Not their finest hour: Isuzu Vehicross

Celebrating the greatest cock-ups in automotive history. This week we look at Isuzu Vehicross
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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January 30, 2017
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While being futuristic is generally considered a positive attribute, it's not always good to be ahead of the times. And that is what the Isuzu Vehicross was when it was first shown as a concept in 1993. The design, extremely idiosyncratic to put it mildly, was way ahead of the times. Still, Isuzu took the bold step of building the Vehicross with minimal changes just four years later in 1997, which meant the production car looked like nothing else on the road at that time.

Sharing the underpinnings of the highly capable Isuzu Trooper, it also boasted one of the best off-road systems of the time as well. Isuzu also introduced it to the US market in 1999, hoping to attract a younger generation of buyers who were looking for a trendier alternative to the Jeep Wrangler. However, despite its solid 4x4 credentials and the smooth and powerful 3.5-litre V6, the Vehicross didn't take off the way Isuzu had hoped it would. Ironically, it were the very attributes that the carmaker thought would appeal to buyers that put them off. The markets in the Nineties were not ready for the car's wacky styling which also featured an abundance of plastic cladding, which many thought made it an ungainly sight on the road. Despite being around for five years, Isuzu could only shift just under 6,000 of these, and pulled the plug on this sales flop in 2001. It was a good idea on paper, but failed miserably owing partly to the less than perfect execution and partly to the fact that the styling was ahead of its time. If the Vehicross had been launched a decade later alongside oddities such as the Nisaan Juke, it could well have been a different story.