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Off-Road Day 2017: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Review

Introduction

There is something really incredible about a massive pickup truck that has been carefully forced up an incline to pose for the camera. It’s like looking at King Kong atop the Empire State Building surveying New York City for a potential reign of carnage. Crazy as it sounds, these were the exact thoughts running through my head as I switched on my phone camera to capture ‘Kong’ posing for me.

‘Kong’ in this case, is the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, and the ‘reign of carnage in New York’ that I was alluding to were the tasks it was made to do during the CarWale off-road day! It’s powered by a 2.5-litre diesel mill producing 134bhp/320Nm of torque. It gets a five-speed manual, shift-on-the-fly AWD system and a low range gearbox.  Thanks to the dealer, our V-Cross had been shod with non-standard Goodyear Wrangler 265/65 R17 tyres.

Off-Road Acceleration

Our first test was acceleration (in the wet) where the V-Cross did the 0-30kmph sprint in 5.92 seconds and covered 24.78 metres. In comparison, on dry tarmac, it did the same sprint in 1.8-seconds. The car was launched in third gear and with 4L engaged. This had to be done because the V-Cross has short gearing and this, in combination with the low-range gearbox, would have resulted in the car spinning its wheels both in first and second gear. To be honest, the timing is quite good for such a large vehicle, and this was no doubt aided by the quick access to the torque as well as the larger tyres.

Off-Road Braking

The V-Cross comes with discs in front, drums at rear and a rather effective ABS system. In the test, it braked from 30 kmph to standstill in 12.61 metres. These are good numbers when you take into consideration the fatter rubbers and the 1.9-tonne weight. To put in perspective, on the stock tyres and in dry conditions, it finished the same test in 3.59-metres. The hero here was the ABS which has been tuned really well for use in off-road situations. Every time we braked hard, it locked and unlocked the wheels individually allowing us to maneuver the car into the path that we wanted. It’s the difference between sticking to the trail and having to rescue ‘King Kong’ from a ditch.      

Off-Road Slalom

Things were looking good so far for the V-Cross and now we decided to put the previous tests to good use by pushing it through slalom. Five cones forward, slide around the hairpin and back through the cones. Now given that the V-Cross is 5.2-metres long, we expected it to struggle through the tight spaces between the cones. But, when we got going, its agility came as quite a surprise and it clocked a time of 46.19 seconds. However, the length and possibly the need to make four turns to go from lock to lock became its Achilles heel when it got to the U-turn and it ended up losing a lot of time in this section. Even then the time it made was really good and was no doubt boosted by the fatter Good year rubbers and the ability of the low-range gearbox to deliver torque at low rpms.

Beaker Test

After getting all serious and scientific, we decided to have some scientific fun at the expense of my colleague Sagar’s pants. We conducted this test to gauge ride quality and here, for the first time, a chink in the V-Cross’ armour was visible. The beaker, which was filled with 400ml of water, saw a spillage of 50ml over the course of the trail which we had used. Because the rear is shod with leaf springs, there is a tendency for the vehicle to rock from side-to-side as well as become jittery when you tread on the path less taken. This was the prime cause for so much water spillage from the beaker.    

Off-Road Hill Climb

The pinnacle of our tests was the hill climb. We took the V-Cross to the bottom of a large slope and then drove it up. So far, its fatter tyres had been a major advantage in everything that we had done. Now, because it was the last vehicle in the fray to climb, everything on the chosen trail had been gutted and rutted by the previous vehicles, thus negating the tyre advantage. But this was hardly an issue for the V-Cross as it muscled its way up the trail. We did have to stop and back up a bit to get onto a surface with more grip as well as uncake the dirty tyres, but this was the only halt in its upward quest. Its cause was no doubt aided by the extra-high ground clearance and the low-range gearbox.     

Conclusion

I’ve never warmed up to the concept of a pickup truck and this, I think, is a bit evident in the crude Hollywood references made throughout the story. But after two days of these gruelling tests, I’ve changed my mind and found a new level of respect for this vehicle. It took everything we threw at it and came out on the top. The low range box and large torque figure helped lug the weight around easily while the off-road oriented tyres proved to be a big advantage during the hill climb and acceleration test. 

V-Cross Data Sheet


Photos: Kapil Angane

Click here to read Carwale Off-Road Day 2017 introduction  

Click here to read about the Tata Hexa at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017

Click here to read about the Jeep Compass at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017

Click here to read about the Toyota Fortuner at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017

Click here to read about the Volkswagen Tiguan at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017

Click here to read about the Spotter's View at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017

Location courtesy: 19 Degree North

An adventure sports outfit located at Aamby Valley City near Lonavla that offers activities like riding ATVs, paintball shooting, Zorbing, and Jungle Safari among others.

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