Crapwagon Outtake: 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1999 isuzu vehicross

Most mainstream consumers don’t recall much about Isuzu. If asked, they’ll either remember their friends’ droptop Amigo back in college, or if they are of a certain age, they’ll know Joe Isuzu and his outlandish claims. Some enthusiasts might know Isuzu as the partner in numerous joint ventures with GM, Honda and Subaru, among others.

That said, Isuzu built some remarkably good SUVs worthy of both halves of that descriptor. The Trooper especially was a good, sturdy off-roader that could handle family duties.

However, for a few short years, Isuzu made a wacky, limited-edition truck that could handle nearly any terrain in style.

The VehiCROSS was that special rig. Going against the grain of soft-roaders meant to appeal to families, the two-door VehiCROSS wore matte black plastic cladding over the lower third of the body to protect against the harsh elements. I wonder how the sheetmetal beneath is holding up in salt-laden climates.

This 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS has 173,000 miles on the odometer, but looks quite clean for the age. The electric window winders have failed, apparently a weak spot on these trucks, though thankfully the windows are in the up position. The windows and the mileage explain the low $4,500 price, where clean trucks typically pull at least double this.

If I were a bit younger and unattached, I’d be all over this. I’d spend my weekends on ORV trails in the Appalachians, camping and getting muddy.

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6 of 41 comments
  • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Oct 30, 2015

    The Vehicross is interesting for its use of soft tooling to reduce costs. Also this was Isuzu's second production concept. The Impulse/Piazza (depending on market) was based on the Ace of Spades show car.

    • See 1 previous
    • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Oct 30, 2015

      @Russycle Sorry, guess I was having a Motörhead moment, you are right that the car was the Ace of Clubs but Wikipedia says it was commissioned by Isuzu using a modified Chevette floorpan. Porsche had nothing to do with these, although Lotus and Irmscher did suspension tuning. The styling is very similar to the second generation VW Scirocco.

  • MaryV MaryV on Oct 31, 2015

    Hey I owned a 2001 Vehicross and loved it. Okay it was a bit bulky, awkward, had a few minor flaws... But definitely one of the first test model SUVs before it's time.

  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Oct 31, 2015

    Crapwagon this is not. It may look weird, but that doesnt make it crap. I have had two Isuzus, a 1996 Hombre (cloned S10) which was terrible and a 1986 Trooper two door 4wd 5spd which was awesome until the manual trans took a dump. Id take a VehiCROSS today hands down. Its a true off road capable SUV (like my Trooper), not a pretend poser vehicle. Im not in love with the way it looks, but I dont dislike it. Id buy it for its capability, and probably for its odd styling which will always spark questions from those who have never seen one.