Weird and Rare: 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS 4WD SUV
For October 5, 2021, our used car find is this well-kept and unusual 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS compact four-wheel-drive SUV with 108k miles. It’s offered on Craigslist by a private seller in the Sedona area for $14,500 or best offer.
Here’s what makes this one special.
Based on a popular 1993 concept vehicle, the Isuzu VehiCROSS entered production in Japan in 1997 and arrived on US shores two years later. The production version closely resembled the funky concept — its distinctive curves, short overhangs, and huge wheels giving it a cartoonish appeal.
And it wasn’t just a styling exercise. Isuzu built the VehiCROSS on the existing Trooper platform, complete with its body-on-frame construction and torquey V6 engine, and added an innovative Torque on Demand 4×4 drivetrain that sends power to the rear wheels until traction is needed in front. The setup made the VehiCROSS a surprisingly capable off-roader.
Reviews were mixed back when the VehiCROSS was new. Some balked at its wacky look; others loved it. In their write-up at the time, Edmunds joked that it was “the closest thing to a moon buggy.”
These days, the VehiCROSS’s odd charm, as well as its limited production numbers (just 4153 examples made it to America), help it to garner more favorable takes. Hagerty recently profiled the model, concluding that it’s “the 90s SUV that deserves more love.”
In the words of the seller…
This 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS is a VERY rare vehicle. While in total, only 4153 VehiCrosses were made over ALL production years 1999-2001, with a total global production well under 6000. In THIS color, the Kaiser Silver Metallic exterior with black and gray interior, there were only 135 of them ever made.
It comes equipped with the on-demand, 4WD system co-developed by Borg-Warner, which defaulted to rear-drive, engaging the front axle as needed for grip…with 12 independent sensors for detecting wheel spin and capable of redirecting power to the wheels with the most traction. The VehiCROSS has 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. Motor Trend featured the VehiCROSS on its May 1999 cover, and included it in its “Top 10 Sport Utilities” for Most Unique Styling. It is very reliable with 5.0 ratings for reliability, value and performance, with near perfect overall scoring from owners. The VehiCROSS has the torque split display in the instrument panel which relays the instantaneous readings. 215 hp at 5400 rpm, 230 lb-ft of torque. Black interior with leather Recaro seats, seats 5, side opening back cargo door, enclosed rear tire carrier and black lower body cladding are standard for this rarity.
This VehiCROSS is in EXCELLENT condition with a clean title, added performance flowmaster muffler and cosmetic scoop, black leather Recaro seats, just had its check up, oil change, recent tires, timing belt, water pump, all other belts and hoses changed, fuel pump, front end bushing, Rancho struts, ball joints, new alternator, steering box and has the original 18″ chrome wheels with locking system, and a brand new battery. Has some oxidation and lines in roof rack. Head turner and drives like a very well-mainted dream!
Four Wheeler featured the VehiCROSS as the “First Runner Up” for Four Wheeler of the Year in 2000 behind the Tahoe Z71; when pitted against: Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, GMC Yukon, Nissan Xterra, Ford Excursion and Mitsubishi Montero Sport. The VehiCROSS scored highest of all 6 Mechanically, for Trail Performance and Highway Performance. Design team was led by Shiro Nakamura and Satomi Murayama, chief designer/manager at Isuzu’s European office in Brussels, the design team was an international group: Simon Cox (assistant chief designer best known for designing the Lotus Elan’s interior), Joji Yanaka, Andrew Hill and Nick Robinson. The task was to build a “lightweight but tough, fun but environmentally friendly” SUV. Stage 2 and 4 Class Winner, 1998 Paris–Granada–Dakar Rally.Class Winner 1999 Australian Safari Rally. Winner “Most Unique Styling” Motor Trend 1999 Top 10 Sport/Utes. Used by Austin Robot Technology as foundation for robotic VX in 2005-2007 DARPA Grand Challenge. Motor Trend reports it gets thumbs up for look-at-me-Gen-X Styling and outstanding seats.
Available to be seen Monday/Tuesday.
There’s not much to find fault with in the listing. We’d prefer one in an even more outlandish color, such as the available Proton Yellow or Dragon Green Mica. But with such low production volumes, VehiCROSS buyers can’t be overly picky. It’s probably best to nab the cleanest one you find regardless of hue.
Probably the biggest issue with this particular car is the price. The $14,500 ask is understandable given the rarity of the model. However, with a recent 10k-mile example bringing not much more than that on Bring a Trailer, it’s probably a bit too steep, even for this rugged little 4×4.
Isuzu VehiCROSS Details
- 108,643 miles
- 3.5-liter V6 engine
- 215 hp @ 5,400 rpm
- 230 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
- four-speed automatic transmission
- four-wheel drive (4WD)
- Kaiser Silver Metallic exterior
- black and gray leather interior
- for sale by owner
- $14,500 (or best offer)
- Sedona, Arizona