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February 3, 2003

Review: 2003 Isuzu Crosswind XUV

Even as Isuzu struck success with its first Isuzu AUV, the Hi-lander, it was already developing its second iteration, the sportier, sleeker Crosswind.  Soon after, Isuzu brought the Crosswind to the next logical step in its evolution, the XUV.

Isuzu wanted the XUV to be head and shoulders above its competitors--literally.  Changes to the suspension, wheels and tires raised the Crosswind body to heights previously reserved for full-size SUVs. AT 1891 mm overall height, the XUV's roof is now level with that of Isuzu's own Trooper.

As Yao Ming probably knows, towering height will be more intimidating if it's backed up by muscle.  Even the illusion of bulk and brawn may be enough.  The XUV plays this game with gusto, providing a front bumper cap, body cladding with flared fenders, functional roof rails, gold badges, rear mounted spare tire, and the biggest tires in the segment, 235/70 R 15 Michelins. Well-integrated aluminum stepboards are also standard, and necessary because of the taller step-in height.  The clear headlamps are now matched by 3D effect, clear-and-red taillights.  A body-colored grille and foglamps complete the sporty appearance.  This is undoubtedly the looker of the AUV lot.

For some buyers, luxury necessitates leather, so of course the XUV obliges—with lots of it.  Seats, door panels, steering wheel, shift knob and even the handbrake are covered in perforated cowhide.  The XUV even goes a step further, with stitching that matches the body color.

Thankfully, there's no fake wood on the instrument panel—just straightforward plastic materials.  Most controls are within easy reach of the driver.  The stereo is mounted high on the dashboard. The Pioneer goes through a distracting display sequence, showing an digitized, dot-matrix F1 car going through its paces. If only it could display text messages as well.  Aircon controls are still ancient-type slide switches, and the pull-and-twist type handbrake lever is also straight from a van.  Instruments are plain and simple, presenting just the necessary information with no attempt at dazzling the driver.

Interior accommodations are spacious for the first row of seats, but tight for the second row passengers.  Those using the side-facing benches may also find their heads scraping the ceiling unless they slouch a bit.

You can have any engine you want with your XUV, as long as it’s a diesel.  Actually, there are two powerplants available, one for the manuals and another for the automatics.  Both are 2.5-liter, direct-injection, overhead valve diesels.  The normally aspirated engine mates with the manual gearbox, and it's good for 80 hp and 167 Nm of torque.  Automatic models are equipped with the turbocharged engine, which generates 83 hp and 185 Nm.

The engine's origins as a truck powerplants are quite evident. It shakes and rattles on start up, and its grumbling engine note, though not excessively loud, is always audible.  Given its ample torque, the engine delivers disappointingly meager acceleration.  Unless you thrash the engine to its redline, you won't get anywhere in a hurry. The rubbery and vibrating shifter doesn't help much either, although clutch effort is light.

As for the turbo engine coupled with the automatic gearbox, initial acceleration is enough to pull away from small sedans at stoplights. The engine soon loses steam at about 80 km/h, and climbing to 100 km/h entails a very long wait.

Steady-state cornering, as in when you're going around a rotonda, feels sufficiently stable.  Quick transitions and tight turns are not the XUV's strong point. There's heavy body roll and a disconcerting delay in steering response.  In its favor, the ride has been softened up considerably compared to the previous Crosswind.

The Crosswind XUV is the vehicle of choice for the extrovert.  Take your pick among the eight painfully bright exterior colors. If you're after the look of an SUV and the feel of leather, this is the best way to do it without breaking the bank.  Sonic yellow, anyone?

Worth A Look: Crosswind XTRM

The move to make the Crosswind look more like an SUV actually began with the previous Crosswind XTRM.  Now the XTRM begins a new life as the lowest variant of the XUV family.

Following a less is more theme, the XUV exhibits a sleek appearance thanks to deletion of the bumper guard, roof rail and rear spoiler.  The foglamps and 3D taillights also bow out.  The XTRM still gets the tall ride height, large tires, integrated stepboard and body cladding of its upscale siblings.

Inside, the XTRM loses the leather and makes do with a plastic steering wheel, faux leather and fabric seat.  Don't bring your Eminem CD, as you'll have to settle for a tuner-cassette radio.  

The same diesel engines power the XTRM, and you do have a choice of manual or automatic transmission.

If the SUV look of the Crosswind family suits your style, but you want something more subtle, then the Crosswind XTRM may be the right one for you.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible that crosswind xuv 2003 manual can be installed with turbo?


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