Before I start telling you what I think about the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, I have to make a confession. I had not driven this car before getting my hands on this very vehicle that I tested and the only thing I could think of whenever I saw this car on the road, was just how passionate the people are who own this already. Those who buy this, take it up as a lifestyle and they go to town with it, quite literally. They put in a bull bar, they put in bigger wheels, put in snorkels and give it their own personal touch. But the car itself, the previous generation D-Max V-Cross, could have used a little bit more to make it an overall better proposition. Isuzu has now come out with a facelift version of V-Cross and seems like they have heard the feedback. And this very model that we tested, is a little bit special.
Now one of the biggest changes to the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross facelift, is well, in the face! It has a new front-end design that now looks a lot more aggressive, a lot angrier if you would. And that’s not a bad thing at all as it now fits the overall persona of the V-Cross a lot better. This new look comes from several new elements like the new bumper which is beefier than before and is now complemented by sharper-looking fog lamp housings which get a dash of chrome. Speaking of chrome, there’s plenty of it all around the car but the highlight is that new grille which is now sharper and the chrome element carries on over to the new Bi-LED headlights, giving the look of one continuous large grille. The lights also have new L-shaped LED Daytime Running lights which add to the aggressive look even more.
From the sides, the key differentiators are the new 18-inch alloy wheels which give the car a premium touch. The V-Cross also gets new side step-board that sits more flush than before and there’s a new shark-fin antenna that’s included in the package too.
From the back, however, the car remains the same. And while those chrome bars at the back look fantastic, it is important to point out that this, as well as the bed liner that you see on this unit, are accessories.
Overall, from the outside, the car looks a lot more premium than before and has an upmarket feel to it. And the sentiment continues on to the inside of the car as well. Gone is the dual-tone finish which has been replaced by an all-black cabin which frankly, looks a lot better. The brushed aluminium accents on the centre console and on the doors have also been blacked-out and the split glovebox now gets the V-cross badging as well.
There is the use of soft-touch leather at the usual touchpoints on the dashboard which is a nice touch, but there’s no hiding the fact that the V-Cross still uses a quality of plastic at other places which do not feel premium at all. Adding to that non-premium feeling is the touchscreen infotainment system which just feels dated and too basic to be in a car that is being sold at this price.
Also, missing panels like these don’t really help its case.
Other than that, the seats have been re-profiled and the top-spec model gets perforated leather upholstery. There’s a new instrument cluster too and now there are new roof-mounted speakers and well, that pretty much wraps up the big changes that the car has got. All in all, these additions and changes bring a sense of better value for money in terms of the design and the feel-good factor as compared to what you previously got with the older V-Cross.
One specific thing I would like to add about the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is that when you are seated inside, yes it’s better than before, but given the price tag that it comes with, there are better cabins around. But remember, this is a pick up truck and you are getting into a lifestyle and if I look at it that way, then I really don’t care if the cabin is all black or some of the plastics feel a bit scratchy, because, at the end of the day, the driving experience more than makes up for it.
The only change at the back of the cabin is that the rear passengers have been given a USB charging port. While that’s a helpful addition, rear AC vents are something we would have liked to see as well and we have to point out that while the new USB ports add to the practicality, the covers on them seem a bit flimsy.
Once you are seated at the back of the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, well, the first thing that comes to mind is that you are seated a bit upright and that’s because of the loading area at the back. As a result, you don’t have great under-thigh support but you do have good amount of knee room, headroom and shoulder room. There is an overall sense of airiness because of the high seating position and large glass panels. And if you put away the armrest, you can have three people sitting abreast at the back as well. So overall, a good place to be in.
But the variant we were driving is a bit special, quite literally. You see, this is a limited edition variant and it is called Z-Prestige. What’s special about this is that the drivetrain is completely new. The engine has shrunken in size as the car is now powered by a 1.9-litre diesel engine instead of a 2.5-litre diesel engine that other variants use. However, look past the engine size and you will notice that this engine makes more power and torque than before. That’s not it, the highlight is that it gets a 6-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox and this is only exclusive to this variant. And in case you are wondering, it is not a BS-VI compliant engine, yet.
But, as is the case with all Isuzu engines, this one too is smooth as butter and is very well refined motor. The engine pulls linearly and the gearbox offers seamless shifts if driven with a light foot. Ask more of it, and it does take a moment before deciding what to do. And while the engine is refined, it does get pretty loud inside the cabin. But other than that, the convenience that an automatic gearbox offers with this car while tackling city traffic is great.
Add to that a four-wheel-drive system and the car is not afraid to go off-road as well. What Isuzu also nails is the driving ergonomics. The steering is height adjustable and the driver-side seat is electrically adjustable. The driver sits high up with a commanding view of the road which helps in manoeuvring this huge truck. Speaking of which, if you are doing that at low speeds, then the hydraulic steering wheel will feel heavy. But if you compare it to the older model, it has become lighter while retaining all the feedback. One thing that we did wish for, was rear parking sensors which are a bit of a surprise that this doesn’t have. Same goes for a sunroof, which is not available even as an accessory.
You also need to keep in mind that the ride quality will feel a bit bumpy if you are driving it alone as the suspension has been tuned to be pliant even when you are carrying some load. So, with a single passenger, the suspension feels a bit stiff.
On the safety front, the V-Cross has seen a lot of improvements too. It comes with a Brake Override System, Hill Start Assis, Hill Descent Control, ABS with EBD and six airbags across the cabin, which does go a long way in justifying the price.
But finally, if I were to talk about the value for money that it offers, then it basically comes down to you.
At Rs 19.99 lakh ex-showroom, it is definitely an expensive car. And given the current crop of SUVs that have joined the competition, the V-Cross might end up making you feel short-changed. However, this is the only vehicle of its kind right now and the only one that offers an automatic gearbox, safety features, a four-wheel-drive system, and an outstanding driving quality in the shape of a pick-up truck.
Also, once it becomes BS-VI compliant, getting your hand on this drivetrain could get a bit more expensive than it already is. And, if you are looking for off-roading, then we would recommend buying the manual gearbox variant and spend the extra cash in giving this car the necessary mods.
So to sum up my thoughts about the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, now that it gets an automatic gearbox it’s a good city car as well and it already was a good highway car and was good at off-roading too. So now, it’s pretty much a great car in every driving condition. The only question you really need to ask yourself is how bad do you want a pickup truck over an SUV.