How can one say anything bad about an Asian utility vehicle that has been around for 17 years, has sold more than 100,000 units, and is still in high demand.
This is despite its design, engine, and amenities seemingly forgotten by time and overtaken by the rapid developments in SUVs, MPVs, and urban crossovers.
Those numbers say everything. After four upgrades and relaunches of the Crosswind nameplate since its 2001 introduction, the fundamental design isn’t that much different, and so is its Euro 2-era 2.5-liter 4JA-1L turbodiesel engine that chugs out 84hp of maximum power at 3,900rpm and 185Nm of maximum torque at 2,000rpm.
The interior of the Crosswind feels dated, with entertainment features and dashboard displays presenting themselves as throwbacks to turn-of-the-millennium creature comforts. The automatic transmission version of the Crosswind leaves much to be desired as far as engine response and acceleration is concerned. This manual tranny was more obedient, though. Still, there is no denying that the Crosswind is made of really heavy stuff, making it impossible to achieve the snappy, light-footed drive that many seemingly heavy diesel-powered SUVs right now can accomplish with the flick of a switch and a common-rail direct-injection engine.
All this begs the question: So, why is the out-of-time Crosswind still selling briskly here? The answer lies not in one, or two, or a hundred thousand Crosswind units sold, but in the collective reputation of the Isuzu emblem itself representing a reliable and durable all-around Japanese diesel automaker.
Go to any province, and the evidence is unmistakable. Isuzu diesel is the dominant species outside of humans. Board any outrigger plying the sea in between our islands, and peep into the engine room. What do you find? Apart from seawater leaking in, you’ll see an Isuzu engine rattling on, loud and proud, come hell or high water.
And that is why the traditional Filipino family outside of Metro Manila still views Isuzu as unbeatable when it comes to diesel workhorses. It thinks it’s virtually indestructible; much tougher and longer-lasting than that iconic car battery that flaunts itself as “pang-matagalan (for the long term).” This also means it’s hard-earned money very well spent for any income class – urban or rural.
For the Crosswind, Isuzu Philippines Corp breaks down its buyers’ profiles: The XS and XL variants are usually chosen by small and medium entrepreneurs; starting families almost always eye the XT; the XUV variant targets the overseas Pinoy balikbayan; while this top-of-the-line XUV-i Sportivo variant goes for middle-class families who want their first “feel” of an SUV but are around P300,000 short of the real thing.
The information age may soon catch up with the invincibility of the Isuzu reputation, as more and more Filipino families in the countryside are exposed to more modern automotive options available in the local market, thanks to easier access to the internet and social media. But even with the IT onslaught, it’ll be hard to topple a legacy built through decades upon decades of proven reliability and pass-on anecdotes (that may or may not be exaggerated).
They say your past always has a way of haunting you. Well, in the Crosswind’s case, the past always comes back to prop it up. Even if Tatay knows you can afford a much more expensive SUV, he’ll still recommend that you buy anything from Isuzu, because an Elf once gave him a ride on its back, and he remembers that it was all good.
PS: I’ve heard through the grapevine that this would be the final year of the Crosswind’s production. IPC, however, is mum on its replacement. Crosswind owners need not fret, though. Parts and services for this model, just like its maker, are enduring. And, to be honest, you die-hard Isuzu fans need to upgrade to the Mu-X, ASAP.
Positives: Solid body, low maintenance costs, proven durability
Negatives: Outdated entertainment system, engine noise and rattle, engine lag in the A/T version