The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross has been on sale for quite some time in the Indian market and it did get a facelift too. However, we weren’t able to get our hands on it for quite some time. Until a few weeks back, we did get our hands on it and we spent a good time with this Isuzu D-Max V-Cross. A highly praised pickup in the country by enthusiasts and owners who we spoke to all this time. Customers have been all over the internet singing praises and praising its reliability, toughness, and solid package that the pick up is. It has helped them conquer all parts of the country too. Our week with it? How was that, we find out as we do whatever we do always. Our usual Mumbai-Pune run. The Mumbai traffic, the medium-level off-road track, and of course, this time, taking two parking spaces in the complex with this just one pick-up.
On the outside, believe it or not, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is almost a six-meter pickup! The pickup still has a proportionate stance and a very good design to grab attention. The elements such as the front grille and the angular headlamps and the rectangular tail lamps fit right on this pickup! The large 18-inch wheels, boxy design, and butch SUV stance thanks to the large extending pickup bay make it look macho too. The build quality seems solid and as we know, Global NCAP has awarded 5 Star safety rating to the V-Cross.
On the inside, the build and quality are from the past so the fit is acceptable but quality, plastics, and buttons are still very early 2000. The stowage is good, charging points are missing and the overall cabin is just about practical. The feature list is sparse considering its update is long due to the Indian market. You get an age-old screen that works really well because it’s been over a decade, so we are now used to this type of infotainment system. The system does not have anything new that you think it should. No connectivity, no android auto or apple car play. A sound system is also an old-school unit. The instrument cluster though had a lot of information to offer. Our test car did not have cruise control, which is only available with an automatic. We had push button start and keyless entry on offer as well.
The space is quite good too. The shoulder, head, leg, and knee rooms are adequate in the five-seater dual cab version. The boot space aka the loading area of the pick up bay is humungous and is over 600 litres. Put a cover over it and you can haul your world with it. Road and wind noise inside the cabin can be better controlled as it can get intrusive. Wind noise creeps in, but after 140 km/hr.
The safety kit includes traction control, ESC, ABS and EBD with six airbags that come as standard. Overall, the cabin experience is conventional and vanilla but all of this for a V-Cross whose strengths lie in driving and capability is almost good enough but the Isuzu needs to bring an upgrade if they want new age customers rather than just enthusiasts.
We drove the 2.0-liter diesel making 163 PS and 360 Nm. The motor is a free-revving and low on NVH unit by a big margin but some intrusion does happen when you start pushing the car in the rev range. What we have driven is manual. Isuzu still delivers spectacular fuel economy on the highway and city. 15 km/l on the highway and 8-9 km/l in the city is a very good number for diesel full-size pickup. Low and mid-range are good and the top-end is adequate as it runs out of steam after 3500 RPM. However, it ends up cruising at speeds, legal and above it, quite speeds easily. This makes it good enough for city and highway duties. The low to medium ride quality has underlying stiffness means it takes bad roads well enough at all speeds.
The high-speed ride is stable and well-judged too. Clearly, the independent suspension at the front makes things so much better. The rear suspension is leaf springs even today and can be a whole lot bouncy but still not commercial vehicle bouncy. Body roll increases as speeds get higher while taking a corner or changing lanes at high speeds. Steering is light, almost precise, and has the bare minimum feedback on offer. However, it is a confidence-inspiring driving situation making the V-Cross worth that all-rounder tag. The steering kickback is quite low despite that being a trait of every ladder-on-frame SUV. Driving in the city with a slightly heavy clutch, gearbox and steering action can take some time to get used to.
The brakes are good with the pedal bite which could be better. Overall power and bite could be better if the inclusion of rear disc brakes can happen. With a 4×4 fly shifter and excellent traction in the worst of conditions that we could find in a short time on an off-road patch which included normal articulation, a medium-sized trench, and very wet and muddy roads, the Isuzu just went through like it was on the highway munching miles. The higher weight can bog it down in a really tricky situation but then again, consumers have been doing that and V-Cross has aced it over the years that we waited for the vehicle to come to us for testing has taught us too.
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Review, Verdict
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is not a product ready for pleasing the 2022 audience. The automatic version, sure, is much better, hoping we get a chance to sample that someday too. Why? Because we cannot get over this pickup. A large car is rarely any Mumbai citizen’s favorite. However, we did like it because of its presence, core strengths that I mentioned time and again in this review, and its sense of fun behind this large and slightly cumbersome vehicle to drive in a congested city.
It is the best of both worlds for some reason. Why? Because it breaks the monotony while being in the past and facing a challenging present market. The future for the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is set as the facelift showcased worldwide makes it more appealing. With Toyota getting in the market, Isuzu will find some buyers in cross-shopping and when they do get behind the wheel of this, it is just a 100% analog machine that makes you go wow with its capability not its luxury at that price point.
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Review, Road Test