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Crosswind ‘Smart’ ready for heavy hauling

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LEADING the flag off at Isuzu Alabang were (from left) IPC president Nobuo Izumina and Tomita. In the background were verifier Reyes and drivers Moreno and Escarieses.

It’s counterintuitive. While everyone else on the highway were trying to overtake one another, this particular Isuzu Crosswind would not even dare go over 80 kilometers per hour.

In fact, the driver of this particular vehicle would always try to slow down at every intersection while the rest would either beat the red light or pretend emergency to justify the need to break traffic laws.

It was indeed a challenge to be the assigned drivers for the recently concluded second leg of the 2013 Isuzu Challenge. “But come to think of it, this is how we should all drive. My co-driver and I were only showing everyone that it pays to stay within the bounds of traffic laws when driving on national roads. Besides, we are only wasting precious fuel or even invite accidents if we continue to drive haphazardly,” said Domingo Escarieses who was assigned by the Automobile Association of the Philippines for the Isuzu event.

Legal limits

He advised that on drives that are expected to take several hours or even days, keeping the speed within the legal limits would be most fuel efficient. “(Overspeeding ) is one of the major reasons why there are so many accidents occuring on provincial roads and highways. It is also the culprit of why a number of transport and delivery vehicles post high fuel consumption,” said codriver Napoleon Moreno, who is also from AAP.

WITH THE majestic Mayon volcano in the background, the Crosswind XT Smart is still more then a hundred kilometers away from its turnaround point in Sorsogon.

Indeed, this is what the second leg of the Isuzu Challenge would like to emphasize when it features a tweaked version of the Crosswind XT. Called “Smart” or Superior, Multipurpose, Affordable, Reliable and Trusted, this particular Crosswind variant has been configured for transporting people (excluding the driver, it could seat nine passengers). Another Smart version of the Crosswind (XS) offers five seating with the third row seat removed to allow more room for carrying cargo boxes, bags and other items.

“We believe that the ‘Smart’ version is the next evolution of our venerable Crosswind. But while it may now be sporting a new moniker, it will not change the fact that this model is still one of the country’s indispensable and most efficient workhorses,” said  Isuzu Philippines Corp. executive vice president Takashi Tomita.

In fact, the Crosswind XT Smart exhibited its outstanding fuel efficiency during the Isuzu Challenge even as its achieved a 17.42-kilometers-per-liter fuel efficiency while traveling a total of 958 kilometers.

Starting from Isuzu Alabang in Muntinlupa City the team composed of drivers Escarieses and Moreno drove to the town of Matnog in Sorsogon and then turned back toward the direction of Manila. They were joined in the vehicle by Francisco “Bebot” Reyes Jr. of Roadwise Motoring Foundation, who verified the distance traveled and fuel consumed.

Empty tank

The Crosswind XT Smart finally ran out of diesel when it reached the town of Caluag in Quezon.

“This feat was really impressive as we proved once more how efficient the Crosswind is. This time, the market also gets to appreciate the potentials that the Smart edition could offer buyers. (the Smart edition is available in all standard versions of the Crosswind namely, XT, XL and XS,” informed Tomita.

The Smart editions of the Crosswind are designed for operators of taxis, utility vehicle  express units as well as businesses with fleets of vehicles or those needing an alternative to passenger cars, SUVs and vans.

WITH LOTS of roadworks along the way, the drivers of the Isuzu Challenge had to be more cautious on how they time their brakes as well as select the right gear.

Tomita noted that while sales of the Sportivos—the sporty and more premium variants of the Crosswind—have remained strong, IPC observed an increasing demand for the standard variants where the XT, XL and XS belong.

Fuel efficiency

“There are numerous traits that make the standard versions of the Crosswind very popular among our buyers. While reliability, sturdy construction, and the capacity to retain excellent monetary value through the years are among these traits, there can be no doubt that the vehicle’s fuel efficiency has played a key factor in affecting consumer decisions,” said Tomita.

In 2010, a Crosswind XL achieved an amazing 21.64-kpl efficiency after it covered a total of 1,190 km. This particular Crosswind drove from Cauayan City in Isabela and headed north toward Ilocos before going south toward Tarlac, Metro Manila and Laguna. The said Crosswind consumed all its diesel when it reached the town of Tagcauayan in Quezon.

“Every fuel economy run that we conducted is unique. Apart from the terrain—driving along mountain roads consumes much more fuel versus driving in mostly flat roads—there is also the factor of traffic congestion, weather, and road repairs to consider,” explained IPC Corporate Communications head Timmy De Leon. “However, we made it a point that our drivers employ normal driving habits.”

According to the two AAP drivers, the route was filled with numerous road repairs as well as lots of uphill climbs that challenged them on how to conserve fuel without resorting to unusual driving techniques.

“As we tried to drive more efficiently, we made to remainwithin traffic laws—no underspeeding, tailing of big trucks or turning off the engine while going downhill. Even the air-condition was set to normal levels. This is because the organizers want to prove that the Crosswind could still deliver excellent mileage even when driven normally,” recalled Escarieses.

Reyes added that the Crosswind’s fuel tank capacity of 55 liters “is more than enough to cover hundreds of kilometers as shown by the recent Isuzu Challenge event.”

Most appropriate

Tomita said that the Crosswind XT Smart is perfect for those who often travel long distance to transport people or deliver goods. “Moreover, like the rest of the variants, the Smart edition of the Crosswind is equipped with powerful halogen projector headlamps, roof rails, third brake lamp and 15-inch alloy wheels. Inside, occupants would surely appreciate the dual air-conditioning system, beige jersey-vinyl bucket seats in front and the Sony single in-dash audio system with four speakers.”

For comfort and safety, the Crosswind XT Smart is also fitted with Isuzu’s Flex Ride MOVE suspension in the rear for more comfortable ride, 14-inch ventilated disc brakes in front, side-door impact beam, and child-lock equipped rear doors.

De Leon informed that to conclude this year’s edition of the Isuzu Challenge, IPC is set to feature the NHR light-duty truck. “We plan to start in Pangasinan, drive north toward Ilocos Norte and then turn back toward Manila. It will also be an equally exciting drive just like the first two events,” she promised.

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