Pickup trucks are a big thing in almost all the South-East Asian countries. During my recent visit to some of these places, I was startled to see how pickup trucks rule the automobile market there. Unfortunately, neither there is any demand for such vehicles in India nor do manufacturers offer something like this. It seems like Isuzu is all set to change the trend by introducing its 4×4 DMax V-Cross pickup truck, which we recently got a chance to test drive at the company's first plant in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh.
Here's our first drive review of the Isuzu DMax V-Cross 4×4.
The segment of pickup trucks has its own charm. The big bulky intimidating looks with a big deck behind the cabin that can be customized according to your needs makes it a very special kind of vehicle. The Isuzu DMax V-Cross is no different and looks like a bully that you don't want to mess with on the road. The big chrome grille upfront is flanked by angular projector headlamps on the either sides.
The side profile is the area that defines a pickup truck the best and the DMax V-Cross looks massive from the sides. The chrome ORVMs, 4×4 sticker and roll bars on the open deck make the side angle the best one to see the car from. The rear side has an openable tailgate that leads to a large black-painted deck used for stowing away goods and big boxes.
Surprisingly enough, unlike any other Isuzu vehicle or other cars in this category, the DMax V-Cross comes with a neatly laid-out cabin. The dual-shade black and beige cabin also has some brushed silver accents running on the central console, steering wheel and doors, which gives it a very welcoming appeal. Although the material quality is not the best, it still excels the expectations.
The dual cabin offers seating for 5 adults in a 2+3 configuration and has ample of legroom, shoulder room and headroom both at the front seats as well as the back. The seats are very well built are cushiony enough, and thanks to high seat position, you get a commanding view of the road. Meant for off-roading, the seats will hold you well on any terrain and you will not finish your journey with a heavy back.
There are a lot of gadgets fitted inside the DMax cabin and you will be not be left desiring for any more device. The 7-inch infotainment screen, rotary automatic climate control, steering-mounted controls and a shift-by-fly 4×4 system is enough for any driving soul. The practicality is ample and you will find enough pockets to stack your knick-knacks. We missed the rear AC vents though.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Isuzu has more than 100 years of experience in building diesel engines and it does show in terms of refinement. The 2.5-litre diesel CRDi diesel motor produces 134 hp of power and 320 Nm of torque. The chunky motor is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and performs really well. Of course, it's a heavy machine and you can't expect crazy performance from it, but it's adequate to take you anywhere.
There's a lot of initial lag and pushing the throttle won't give you the expected performance. But once you cross the 2200 rpm mark, the power kicks and let me tell you, the Dmax is really skid friendly. The gear operates really smoothly and while you may be scared to see the oscillating gear lever once the engine starts, it does maintain its calm and gives ample feedback.
Ride and Handling
Like any other bulky SUV, the DMax V-Cross is really heavy and it does take a toll on the steering wheel. It's immensely heavy and taking quick turns can create a bit of nuisance. That said, Isuzu has used the all-new iGRIP (Isuzu Gravity Response Intelligent Platform) chassis for the V-Cross, which makes the ride quality a pleasurable affair.
Luckily, for us, Isuzu constructed a sort of off-roading track with gravel and mud, giving us a chance to test the ride quality of the DMax. To our surprise, it passed the test with flying colours. The double wishbone suspension arms upfront and leaf spring at the back combined with iGRIP chassis didn't lead much of the road harshness into the cabin.
Dubbed as the country's first adventure utility vehicle, the Dmax V-Cross has a lot of things going its way. It offers a proper 5-seater cabin with all the bells and whistles, a punchy and refined diesel engine, 4×4 capability, a large deck to load a lot of stuff, and the butch looks. If you are looking for an SUV with a lot of space, Isuzu Dmax V-Cross can prove to be a well-sorted option.
Images by Arjit Garg