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Remember the Isuzu VehiCROSS? This Auction is Here to Remind You

A 10,000-mile example just hit Bring a Trailer.

Show of hands, how many of our readers even remember what an Isuzu VehiCROSS is? How many have actually seen one on local streets? With just 4,153 of these cute-utes sold in the U.S. (total global production was under 6,000 examples), you'd be forgiven for forgetting the VehiCROSS compact SUV ever happened, but a new auction on Bring a Trailer for a 10,000-mile 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS reminds us how quirky and cool these neo-classic compact SUVs really are.

By the 1990s, the fledgling compact SUV market was gaining huge popularity and every automaker wanted a piece of the sales. Isuzu already had its hands deep in the U.S. utility vehicle market with Rodeo and Trooper models, but those were chunky, utilitarian looking SUVs and the opposite of trendy. The VehiCROSS concept with its swoopy good looks was a hit for the brand at the 1993 Tokyo auto show and by 1997, a mixture of various off-the-shelf parts and Trooper underpinnings had created a production version.

Isuzu knew the VehiCROSS would be a limited-production vehicle—something to get younger, more trendy buyers into its showrooms. With that in mind, it created a series of ceramic body panel stamping dies, which boasted a far lower cost and production time than their steel counterparts, but with a higher rate of wear—fine for a sub-6,000 vehicle production run. Isuzu originally thought it might sell as many as 2,500 VehiCROSS models per year, selling out in just two years or so. As it turned out, annual sales were fewer than expected, but Isuzu did sell out the full run of SUVs between 1997 and 2001.

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The two-door Trooper RS chassis paired to Isuzu's 215-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and a four-speed automatic transmission made for a compelling package in terms of performance. The VehiCROSS used a four-wheel drive system co-developed by Borg-Warner, which defaulted to rear-drive, engaging the front axle as needed for grip. The VehiCROSS even had a nifty display in the instrument panel which relayed the instantaneous torque-split to the driver—fancy stuff for the day. Recaro seats were also found inside, and the Ironman Edition VehiCROSS offered unique exterior paint and graphics. The idea was that the VehiCROSS was a capable off-roader that was also sporty and fun-to-drive on-road, which is mostly what MotorTrend found in their period review. Certainly, the VehiCROSS looked like nothing else on the road—if you were the attention seeking outdoorsy type, this was a compact SUV made for you.

And now a 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS Ironman Edition with just 10,000 miles on the clock has hit Bring a Trailer, where we expect it will sell for a fair amount less than its original $30,000 MSRP. Despite its low miles and better-than-average appearance, this particular VehiCROSS does have an accident on its CarFax history report and is currently listed on non-operational status in the California DMV system after its owner passed away. The seller notes cracks in the timing belt, which is overdue for replacement, though the car is said to run and drive and was last serviced in 2019.

How much would you pay for a time-warp Isuzu VehiCROSS? With five days left in the seven-day auction, bidding has reached $9,100 at the time of this writing. Factor in a little extra to get this one's maintenance history current and this could be a fun, practical and usable modern classic.

To see the current bid, or to join the fray yourself, check out the auction here.

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