Here’s our review of the refreshed Isuzu D-Max V-Cross lifestyle pick up truck
It’s not every day that you get to drive a pick-up truck that can intimidate other blue-blooded SUVs on the road. Although we have seen pick-ups from the likes of Tata and Mahindra, these products have never become popular among private car buyers. However, an exception to this is the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross. While this behemoth lifestyle vehicle is absolutely utilitarian at heart, the Japanese manufacturer has done its best to add a dash of comfort and convenience to make it easier to live with.
Although this body style has never been popular in India, the D-Max V-Cross has slowly but gradually cultivated a cult status for itself. This pick-up truck had previously offered space, size, power and status. But now in its revamped avatar, Isuzu has attempted to add comfort, convenience and practicality to the V-Cross’s utilitarian DNA. With a mid-life redo, the 2019 version of the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross looks quite modern and also comes with some new bells and whistles, such as a 6-speed automated to a new 1.9 l diesel engine that has been made available only on the top spec High+ model.
UPGRADES: TECHNOLOGY, AESTHETICS & MORE
The D-Max V-Cross offers the same robust-looking design; sitting on a ladder-frame chassis, the vehicle is sure to turn heads. The model refresh offers a more brutish twist to the already beefed-up UV. The front features bi-beam projector headlamps with DRLs, a chunk & thick chrome grille and other cosmetic upgrades. The V-Cross now rides on new six twin-spoke 18-inch alloys that look quite edgy.
The Japanese OEM has also added bits such as a new shark-fin antenna, LED tail lamps, new step plates and plenty of chrome garnishing. The company has added new decals as well as emboldened the Isuzu badging to look more prominent. While the front wears a modern look, the same cannot be said of the rear. The cargo bed comes with the same load capacity of 235 kg with a plastic waterproof lining.
The interiors now feature brown upholstery and the interiors now have a black colour scheme for the dash and door trims. Other changes include some soft touch materials adorning the dash and instrument cluster. The driver seat gets electronic adjustment, which is a welcome addition offering a level of convenience witnessed in higher segment vehicles. While the D-Max V-Cross comes with a touchscreen infotainment unit, it does miss out on basic functionality such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, which is being offered on models in much lower price brackets.
The new V-Cross does get many cubbyholes and storage spaces and in today’s age and date one can definitely appreciate multiple charging slots. This UV gets three along with two 12 V ports. The new V-Cross has also got a few technological upgrades. It features cruise control, six airbags, hill-descent & start control, keyless entry, traction control, ESP, push button start/stop, new multi info display and reverse parking camera.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
The highlight of the new V-Cross is its 1,898 cc, four-cylinder diesel mill that is rated for 150 hp and 350 Nm of torque. This new engine now offers an additional 16 hp and 30 Nm over the larger 2.5 l turbo diesel that was bolted on the older model. One would expect this new engine to also be BS-6 compliant. However, the manufacturer instead has opted to go with a BS-4 compliant unit.
While driving both on and off-road, we found this new engine to be better than its predecessor. Owing to a smaller size and the engineering behind it, we felt that this 1.9 l unit is more refined than the 2.5 l unit. The power build-up is smooth and the overall performance of this engine feels quite robust. Once the turbo kicks in, the smaller 1.9 l mill is capable of sending this UV hurtling up any beaten path. However, the power band could have been slightly longer. The mid-range is where this vehicle really offers the most acceleration and performance, and post 3,000-3,200 rpm, the vehicle feels a little out of breath and there is not much on offer post 4,000 rpm.
While the performance is adequate, one must understand that this engine has been mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox, which is meant to be used more as a cruiser and lifestyle product than expected to perform herculean off-road tasks routinely. With this aspect in mind the 1.9 l diesel does fit the bill rather well. The torque converter is smooth and together with the engine, it does the job without glitch. While it is quite comfortable to drive in the city, one could have expected a more seamless performance from the automatic. But unfortunately in our books, it was not up to the mark and could have been smoother.
What we really appreciated in the new V-Cross’s automatic transmission was the choice of shifting manually. The transmission also holds the gear you select and offers minimal interference, only kicking-in when the engine is about to stall. Isuzu is also offering a shift-on-the-fly drive mode for 2WD and 4WD. In four-wheel drive, the driver can choose between high and low ratios. The low ratio does well from most sticky situations one would encounter, and with adequate power from the motor we had minimal complaints crawling over obstacles. While the approach and break-over angles are reasonably workable, the departure angle can pose a challenge, especially with steep gradients.
The suspension set-up is a double wishbone system in the front and a leaf spring in the rear. While this UV does make short work of bad roads, the RWD system does loose traction from time to time, when driving off-road at higher speeds, especially if you are not carrying any load. At slow speeds the steering does lean to the heavier side, and while navigating traffic or a trail, there is a reasonable amount of effort that needs to be put behind the hydraulic steering set-up. The plus here is that you feel more confident on highways, while driving fast.
This is a spacious five-seater UV that stands out no matter where you go in this sub-continent. It offers enough creature comfort to be considered as an optional second car for metropolitan buyers and a definite first car for the wealthy farmers in India. If utility and off-road prowess are on top of your list, then this should be your weapon of choice. With a few driver aids and new convenience features, one can argue about its usage in the city, but it will never be a practical option for just city use. For a price tag of ` 19.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the new D-Max V-Cross is a bit costly and clearly not an option everyone will choose. That said, if you really want to stand out in a crowd of SUVs, this UV does the trick rather well.
TEXT & PHOTO: Joshua David Luther