Wacky Wood: 1999 Isuzu Vehicross – SOLD!
April 7, 2022 Update – The combination of the new caretaker’s comment and the seller’s deletion of their Craiglist ad has us calling this one, “SOLD!” We encourage the new owner to share pictures and the story behind the purchase on our Guys With Their Rides page!
March 10, 2022 Update – The private seller of this rare Isuzu VehiCROSS just replaced their original expiring listing with a new Craigslist ad. In a move we will never quite understand, they decided to raise their asking price by one thousand dollars from $11,800 to $12,800. We’re not sure whether they believe the warming weather justifies a price increase but only time will tell.
All but forgotten in the U.S. today, Japanese automaker Isuzu tried throughout the 1990s to increase market share in the U.S. One of the successful ways they grew brand awareness in the U.S. were the funny “Joe Isuzu” ad campaigns. Alas, save for the company’s very capable Trooper SUV, the brand’s other offerings could not generate much sales buzz stateside. Oddly, throughout its history, Isuzu liked to limit sales of some of its offerings as a way to increase exclusivity. One of the last examples of this practice was the VehiCross compact SUV. This 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS currently originally listed in February 2022 on Craigslist in Southampton, New Jersey is one of only 4,153 imported to the U.S. between 1999 and 2001.
Currently offered by a grandchild of the second owner, they currently have this VehiCROSS listed for $12,800 (their original ask was $11,800). While The NADA Guides Online Valuation Tool currently lists their “Low, “Average”, and “High” retail value range for these quirky SUVs as $2,675, $4,125, and $6,175, respectively, we point out that the seller’s asking price falls in line with past Bring A Trailer results.
Japanese automaker Isuzu produced the VehiCROSS compact SUV from 1997 through 2001, however, the company did not start importing them into the U.S. until the 1999 model year. While it featured radical styling for the time, underneath the VehiCROSS shared many of its components with the highly durable Trooper SUV, including 3.5 Liter V6 that produced 215 brake horsepower at 5400 rpm and 230 foot-pounds of torque at 3000 rpm of torque. VehiCROSS was a small, sporty 2-door crossover vehicle with aggressive external styling, including short overhangs, an aggressive forward stance, titanium “teeth” in the grille, a black hood-insert, and black plastic cladding over the entire lower half of the vehicle. The US VehiCROSS came equipped with 16″ polished wheels in 1999 and 18″ chrome wheels during the remainder of production. The Japanese version came equipped with 16″ alloys with chrome center caps.
The VehiCROSS’ most innovative feature was the innovative-for-the-time Torque on Demand (“TOD”) four-wheel-drive system produced by BorgWarner. TOD combined a computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system for on-road driving and a low-gear four-wheel-drive system for off-road driving. While Japanese versions could be purchased in either two-wheel-drive or a four-wheel-drive, non-TOD version, VehiCROSSes bound for the U.S. featured four-wheel-drive-only TOD. With twelve independent sensors for detecting wheel spin and capable of redirecting power to the wheels with the most traction, the VehiCROSS offered a high level of traction on wet and icy roads. It also has a high level of performance for its height. While possessing on-road nimbleness, its body-on-frame truck construction, suspension and 4WD gearing make it very capable off-road.
The MotorWeek Retro Review Channel features this vintage road test of a 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS when they were new:
Wildly different when launched, the styling of the VehiCROSS has actually aged well. One item that hasn’t is the dealer-applied wood veneer interior accents that were very popular when this SUV was new. While the quality of the materials has held up well, the placement of the applique on the passenger side airbag not only is garish but could become a dangerous projectile in an accident. We highly recommend removing that piece. Otherwise, if you’re looking for an attention-getter at a Cars & Coffee or RADwood event, don’t plan to daily drive this SUV, this might be the vehicle for you.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“Limited Edition Isuzu VehiCross
Rare vehicle only 2005 produced in ’99 collector’s item!
The VehiCROSS was highly regarded for its cross-terrain performance.
Has all options available at time of production
A very unique leather interior
Everything works as it should
The tires are like new and the brakes are great
Runs, shifts, and drives smooth
This was Grandad’s car and he was the second owner
SERIOUS BUYERS ONLY
Call or text“
Show or go: what would you do with this 1999 Isuzu VehiCROSS? Comment below and let us know!