Impressive as ever

In Photo: The perfunctory class picture in front of the Crosswinds.

Story & photos by Patrick P. Tulfo

IT’S hard to believe that it has been 17 years since the Crosswind was first introduced in the Philippine market and is now nearing the end of its successful run wherein it has sold more than 100,000 units, according to the soft-spoken Isuzu Philippines Corp. (IPC) division manager for sales, Joseph Bautista.

IPC President Hajime Koso proudly gives a thumbs-up for a 50-year-old Isuzu truck.

IPC invited select members of the motoring beat to take a trip down memory lane from June 21 to 23 to experience, perhaps for the last time, the reasons why the Crosswind has been one of the company’s bestsellers in the market to date.

The nostalgic trip started as soon as we landed in Tuguegarao airport in Cagayan in the heat of the midday sun. Cagayan Valley’s capital is known to register the hottest temperatures during summer, and it sure felt like it on our first day. However, the powerful cooling system of the Crosswind XUV variant which we rode in was more than a match for the heatwave. It only took a few minutes to cool the entire cabin as even the third row had its own vents.

We had a pleasant surprise on our next stop for lunch as we saw a 50-year-old Isuzu truck in the parking lot next to ours. The owner confirmed its age and told us that it’s still very much in use and that its engine is still intact. This made IPC President Hajime Koso very proud.

After a hearty lunch, we then proceeded to Isuzu’s provincial dealer showroom that’s still under construction. It sprawls over 600 sq m of showroom area and more than 1,000 sq m of service area, making it one of the biggest dealerships in the province.

The next three hours saw our convoy of five different Crosswind variants driving at a leisurely pace. The fine provincial road lulled most of us to sleep (not behind the wheel. of course), and this can also be attributed to the AUV’s finely tuned suspension, especially in the rear, which boasts of the company’s patented Flex-ride system—an ingenious creation wherein the reduced number of metal leaf-springs creates a more pliable ride even when the vehicle is not loaded.

Isuzu’s decision to change the seating configuration of the third row to a forward-facing setup in the XUV and Sportivo variants made them more comfortable for those who sat on the third row, although it was a bit tight for those who stand taller than 5’6″.

One can’t help but really admire the good looks of the vehicles, especially the XUV and Sportivo. Its SUV stance is the chief reason why a lot of people were enamored by the vehicle and have chosen to buy it.

The short presentation after dinner by the poolside of the luxurious five-star hotel we stayed in was even more nostalgic as we were asked to deliver a short story on our experience with the Crosswind through the years. I proudly shared that we owned successive models of the top-end Sportivo before my mom recently upgraded to an MU-X. I also mentioned the review that I wrote about it when I borrowed one, two years ago, comparing it to a dinosaur because the vehicle was so tough that it may take another cataclysmic event to make it extinct.

Mr. Koso, meanwhile, in his speech, said, “The Isuzu Crosswind perfectly characterized the commitment that Isuzu has and would be delivering to the Filipino market. We will continue to find ways to make this vehicle Filipino-centric”.

The night, however, obviously belonged to Joseph Bautista as he delivered his sentimental speech about the Crosswind. Starting with how they thought of the name Crosswind for the vehicle (it’s a crossover as it possesses characteristics of different types of vehicles rolled into one).

He also mentioned how they tried to make every model of the Crosswind unique from each other, like when they released a model that was equipped with an onboard karaoke audio system.

The 2017 Crosswind was designed in Taiwan and, just like any Isuzu product, it underwent several changes using clay models to see how it would look like physically. Thus, the result is a good-looking front end, which features a new bumper that seamlessly blends with the grille with the Isuzu logo in the middle.

Its 2.5-liter 4JA-1 direct-injection diesel engine, equipped with a light-pressure turbo rated at 85 hp of maximum power and 18.5 N-m of maximum torque, may already be lagging behind its competitor but the Crosswind is tough, durable, reliable and as economical as ever.

Image Credits: Patrick P. Tulfo