Pros: Attractive, fun to drive, great in the snow, Ricaro sport seats, amazing handling
Cons: Very poor visibility, terrible blind spots, awful access to back seats, very little storage area.
Knowing that the vehicle I was driving was on it's last leg, hubby and I agreed that I should start shopping around for a new one. I wasn't sure if I wanted a car or an SUV so I looked at everything. Absolutely NOTHING on the market caught my interest. Sure, some cars looked really sweet, but were horrible in the snow and ice, and that is the ONE priority I was setting for my next vehicle..... must be good in SNOW! The SUV's I looked at all looked the same.... blah. So it seemed I could have ugly but practical/snow-worthy, or sweet-looking and dangerous. Nothing out there was satisfying both. I was getting very depressed knowing we were about to spend a lot of money on a new vehicle and I couldn't find anything that even turned my head.
Until...... I ran into a picture of a Vehicross on the internet quite by accident. I had no idea what it was - I just knew the picture caught my eye and wouldn't let go. I went running out to the garage and told my husband I had found the vehicle of my dreams! He of course asked what it was, and I had to say "I don't know, but I'm going to find out!" I started doing some research and homework, and the more I read, the more I fell in love. (go to end of review for vehicle specifications.) The fact that they are so limited and rare made it even MORE attractive, and I couldn't get over how sweet it looked!!! (There were less than 5,000 produced worldwide between 1999-2001.) When I heard that it was "like a mountain-goat in the snow" I knew I had to have one.
I've had her for 2.5 months now, and I still never tire of looking at her. I truly enjoy walking up to her and getting in (especially with all the looks of envy) and driving her is more fun than any vehicle I've owned. It's like driving the perfect combination of a sports car and SUV!
Handling is phenomenal, and the turning radius is amazing. The steering is very responsive and tight.... no play whatsoever. I don't know the technical term for it, but it's not the type of power steering that you could steer with your little pinky, like some cars. I've read that it's designed NOT to steer that easily, since the vehicle is popular for off-roading and you really don't want the wheel to be react easily when climbing over rocks and dirt piles. It's definitely not difficult to steer, though. I've driven vehicles with no power steering and this is NOT one of them. Same with the brakes - not the sensitive type that puts you through the windshield whenever you tap it, but definitely power-assisted. And yes, they're anti-lock, which worked great when I was maneuvering to the office in our last ice storm.
She's very peppy, as you would expect with a 3.5 liter in such a small body. The photos are probably deceiving - the VX really is small. I was previously driving a Mitzubishi Gallant, and now parking the VX in the same garage, I have a LOT more room leftover in the garage. But the Vehicross is incredibly heavy, and has a true "body on frame" structure, rather than unibody.
The engine runs smoothly and quietly and I always feel like I'm holding her back..... I think this vehicle really wants to "blow some doors in" and I have no doubt that she could! The transmission is an automatic which shifts smoothly, and the "torque on demand" feature has it switching from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive as needed. There's also a stick on the floor for manually putting her into 4WD high or low, and then two different buttons: one called "winter" which tells her to take off from a start in 3rd gear, and once called "power", but I honestly don't know what gear that takes off in.... I believe it's used more in off-roading experiences.
There aren't a lot of "toys" that are standard with the Vehicross, just a couple of basics: rear defogger, power doorlocks, power windows, auto-adjustable outside mirrors (which are also heated with the push of a button)and a climate control system that allows you to set the temperature at your desired degree and it will maintain it automatically. A 6 CD changer/player comes standard, and the vehicle is very tight so the acoustics are good. The dome light stays on for a few seconds after you get in, and to manually turn it on or off you only need to depress the actual dome.
There isn't a lot of interior storage space... just a small glove compartment, a small storage area in the center console, and very little room behind the back seats. I'm seriously considering removing the back seats entirely to give myself more room for pets and groceries. The door interiors are carbon fiber with a tiny pocket on each for a hairbrush or a few pens, not much room for more. No cupholders..... they really missed the mark on that one. Overall, the inside is very tiny and cramped, and if you're an average-sized person I'm sure you'd be fine with it, but if you were on the heavy side, I think you'd find it uncomfortable to be in for a long period of time, and if you're claustrophobic, this may not be the vehicle for you.
The seats are Ricaro sport seats, and I only wish I could bring them in with me and use them in the house when I'm not driving... they are THAT comfortable. Unfortunately, there isn't much adjusting you can do to them... slide them forward or backward, and angle the backrest forward or back, and the control to do that is very hard to reach and maneuver. The two front bucket seats do have a pull out section at the bottom front so that you can "extend" the bottom portion.... almost like a foot rest for your thighs. The rear seat is almost like a bench seat, but they are split so that you can fold one up and give yourself more storage, or fold both up, but when they're both in the "seat" position they look like a bench. Very comfortable, though, and they recline fully.
The actual ride of the vehicle is fairly stiff, pretty much like a truck, but a NICE truck. Certainly not a luxury vehicle, but I could easily drink a cup of hot coffee while driving, so it's good enough for me. I had my husband drive so I could try out the back seat, and it's pretty bumpy and stiff back there. On a highway it would be fine, but I wouldn't want to do many back roads or off-roading from the back seat.
The blind spots and limited visibility are really upsetting at first, but easily remedied by adding those blind spot mirrors onto your outside ones, and I also stuck some "Van Eyes" on the back window which helped immensely. I removed the headrests from the back seats to free up a little more visibility, and all in all, it's not bad now, but it does take some getting used to, and if you're the type that likes to actually look over her left shoulder when changing lanes, you'll need to learn to trust your mirrors.
I would not recommend this vehicle to a family with small children... it's not easy getting in and out of the back seat. The Vehicross is a two-door (which is part of the reason it's so sharp to look at) and the space you're given to crawl in the back, even after the front seat is flipped forward, is MINIMAL. I'm not a big person and I have a hard time, so dealing with children and car seats would be frustrating.
But for a single person or a couple that's looking for a sweet-looking vehicle that can also off-road, it's perfect! It's incredibly attractive to look at, and very good in the snow. I've been calling her my "midlife crisis car" since my kids are grown so I don't NEED to be practical about my vehicle choices anymore - I can buy for FUN. I hope to hang onto her for many more years, and can only hope someone will manufacture something similar before it's time to give her up. I'm not sure I could ever go back to a "regular" vehicle again.
What size engine does the VX have?
The VX engine displaces 3.5 liters or 213 cubic inches.
What kind of valve configuration does the VX have?
The VX has a Dual Over Head Cam with 4 valves per cylinder using a mechanical "Direct attack bucket tappet" configuration.
What is the VX's compression ratio?
The VX has a compression ratio of 9.1:1.
What is the horsepower rating of the VX?
The VX's engine is rated at 215hp @ 5400rpm.
Power to weight ratio = 18.395lb per horsepower.
This is measured at the crankshaft at sea level.
Does the VX use a special spark plug?
The VX uses a platinum-tipped spark plug, this plug has a 100,000 mile lifespan, according to Isuzu.
How much torque does the VX produce?
The VX's engine produces 230ft lbs @ 3000rpm. This is measured at the crankshaft at sea level.
Does the VX have fuel injection?
The VX uses a sequential multi-point fuel injection system.
I see no plug wires on the VX, why?
Isuzu uses a "Direct Ignition" system for the VX. There is a coil over each of the spark plugs thus, eliminating the use of just one coil shared by all six spark plugs.
What kind of drivetrain configuration does the VX use?
The VX uses a full-time 4 wheel drive system coupled by an automatic transmission, transfer case and "T.O.D." unit. Providing up to a 50/50 power split to the front and rear wheels.
What is this "TOD" thing?
T.O.D. is an acronym for Tourque on Demand. This system is capable of distributing torque to the front wheels before tire slip occurs by monitoring twelve different input sensors, including vehicle speed and accelerator pedal angle. The information is fed back to the TOD system every 20 milliseconds and torque is distributed to the front wheels as determined by a patented, preprogrammed software map. This ensures a smooth, stable ride at all times and optimizes torque distributon.
What are the gear ratios of the VX?
Transmission gear ratios - (:1)
Axle gear ratios - (:1)
Transfer case ratios - (:1)
What is the fuel consumption of the VX?
Isuzu lists the EPA estimated fuel economy as 15mpg/city 19mpg/hwy using 87 octane fuel.
The VehiCROSS has a 22.5 gallon fuel capacity.