Bringing in the new year with the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross: The last of old school
Decembers have usually meant a road trip for me somewhere in the country. Mostly work trips but over the years, this has become a tradition of sorts. And barring the Covid years, I’ve been more than willing to seek an adventure out. So at the fag end of 2022, adventure came knocking once again with an impromptu trip. And this time the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross turned out to be my companion.
Also Read : Toyota Hilux vs Isuzu V-Cross: Specification comparison
A diesel pick-up in a year of electrics, hybrids and alternative fuel options. It wouldn’t be the ideal choice for many given all the launches we had in 2022. But here I was with something that still holds its own amidst all of them. The V-Cross isn’t just a diesel offering, it’s a pick-up truck with a very specific use case. Under no terms is it a purchase made by the head. But then the old-school oil burner (BS6 compliant) offers the right low-end grunt to wake up the beast in you. It’s not too hard to convince yourself why this can be a practical buy after all.
I was scheduled to catch up with my extended family for a year-end get-together outside of Mumbai and decided to drive down at night after closing work commitments. A late start meant the roads to get out of Mumbai were relatively empty and a quieter highway would open up to the V-Cross more willingly.
Getting this mammoth-sized pick-up through the packed streets of the city was nothing less than a chore though. The V-Cross feels outlandish when compared to every other hatchback out there and even happily eclipses the biggest of “compact SUVs" on the road. But a towering view from the driver’s seat ensures you’re peaking into the far end of the traffic jam—something I quickly got used to.
It’s easy to feel bullish when you’re behind the wheel of the V-Cross. Your testosterone levels climb at the same pace as the speedometer after 2,000 rpm and the fairly comfortable cabin ensures you enjoy the drive rather than endure it. Speaking of which, it is a comfortable cabin. Plastic levels are decent and the layout is basic but sturdy.
The archaic touchscreen infotainment offered nothing beyond Bluetooth connectivity. Do you need anything more? Well yes, once outside of the familiar territory, I was now navigating between my phone and empty village roads trying to get to my destination about 80 km away in Murbad. The age 4G (and 5G even) meant the map was doing just fine but I would’ve preferred the infotainment screen to show me details instead of having to look down at my phone every few kilometres. The newer version of the pick-up does get an updated infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Just what I needed.
As the route got progressively deeper into the forest, the tarmac made way for more broken patches and that’s where the V-Cross was in its element. The comfy suspension - independent double wishbone up front and leaf springs at the rear - has enough travel to tackle more than just potholes. The ride is soft and bouncy with lots of travel at the rear. What you would need is some heavy-duty luggage on the flatbed to settle the springs. Too bad, I just had an overnight bag buckled in the rear seat. The LED projector lens headlamps offer an impressive throw, precisely the illumination you need when you have absolutely no idea what’s waiting for you around the next corner.
But the massive 1.9-litre diesel engine coupled with that massive size is confidence-inspiring even on the nastiest of patches, all I had to do was choose to go flat out and the V-Cross did, no questions asked. As the forest road connected back to the highway, I couldn’t be happier to see some civilisation. The V-Cross too liked settling down at speeds above 80 kmph at just under 2,000 rpm in the sixth gear. It likes the highway as much as I do and we both would’ve liked spending a few extra kilometres on the open road.
A little under two hours is all it took for us to make it to the destination. That was quicker than what the others endured. Humble brag? Oh yes! The weekend then wasn’t just about reconnecting with my roots. Not just with the family but with cars as well. In a time of electrics and hybrids gaining prominence, and rightly so, here’s an example of old automotive charm. Ladder-on-frame, diesel and so much fun.
The V-Cross turned out to be just the reminder I didn’t know I needed about why we do this. For the love of everything automotive - old and new. Good thing the V-Cross isn't going away. More of this, please!