Savoring the beloved Crosswind’s last hurrah
Driving the last 70 kilometers toward the town of Santa Ana in Cagayan province, one cannot help but be both amazed and impressed by what the Isuzu Crosswind—our ride that morning—had accomplished all these years.
This Asian utility vehicle is now among the country’s longest-running nameplates with over 100,000 units already sold since its introduction in late 2001.
Our convoy, made up of five varieties of the latest version of the Crosswind, was almost halfway through the drive that started in Tuguegarao City.
Along the way, our group couldn’t help but reminisce the places we’d been to onboard this sturdy AUV.
The Crosswind’s story began in 1997 when Isuzu Philippines Corp., just two years after it started operations in the country, launched the Hilander, the Crosswind’s predecessor.
After selling a phenomenal 22,000-plus units during its five-year life, and with the arrival of newer, updated competitors, IPC decided to heavily revise the Hilander.
By late 2001, the Japanese car maker introduced the Crosswind nameplate in the Philippines.
Since then, IPC gave the Crosswind yearly improvements but was careful not to tamper with its frugal and reliable 2.5-liter, 4JA1-L turbo direct injection diesel engine, as well as its underchassis, double wishbone with torsion bar springs front suspension, stabilizer bars and flex ride suspension, semi elliptical leaf springs, and telescopic shock absorbers rear suspensions.
Interestingly, IPC could have retired the Crosswind six or more years ago, but for some reason, the market—mostly families of overseas contract workers and those in the transport business—continued to patronize buying the Crosswind.
“It may not be the fastest, the most powerful, or the most technology-laden AUV out there, but the Crosswind continues to get buyers because they just love its super efficient engine, durable body, versatility considering the amount of space it could provide, and easy-to-obtain spare parts,” boasts IPC president Hajime Koso during the introduction of the 2017 Crosswind edition at the Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort.
IPC says that last year, the locally assembled Crosswind remained one of its top sellers, delivering 4,659 units, second only to the sales of its flagship model, the mu-X sport utility vehicle that sold 12,657 units.
Sadly, like most good things, the Crosswind production had to come to an end.
During the three-day event, it was revealed that IPC is just about ready to retire the AUV in line with the Philippine government’s move to enforce Euro-4 emissions standards on new vehicles to be sold starting Jan. 1, 2018 (the Crosswind’s engine is Euro II compliant).
“I would be the saddest person when that happens considering I was with the team that developed the Crosswind in 2001 as well as among those closely involved in its redesign and improvements every year,” recalls Joseph Bautista, IPC Sales and Planning Department head.
Even if IPC stops the production of the Crosswind, the company will continue to provide the services as well as spare parts for several more years, Bautista adds.
Best time to buy
Considering the looming excise tax increase and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Dec. 31, 2017 deadline for the initial (new vehicle) registration of non-Euro 4 compliant vehicles in the country, IPC believes this year is the best time to buy the Crosswind.
For the final iteration of the Crosswind, one should look past the AUV’s engine that generates a modest 84 horsepower and 185 Nm of torque.
That same engine had won fuel efficiency milestones: 20.76 meters per liter (km/l) efficiency for a manual Crosswind XT variant in the 12th edition of the Department of Energy Fuel Economy Run in 2016; 17.42 km/l for an XT variant that traveled 958 kilometers on a single full tank of fuel during an Isuzu Challenge event in 2013; and the still unbroken record of 83.46 km/l set by Motoring reporter Anjo Perez on an XTO variant during the 2003 Isuzu Challenge, just 1.07 liters of diesel after covering 89.3 kilometers.
During that same event, an automatic XUV variant consumed just 2.94 liters running the same distance.
“Those who are driving the Crosswind as a personal transport or for business—as a taxi, for delivering goods, or transporting people—truly appreciate the efficiency of the engine. In general, fuel consumption equates to about 30 percent of total operating costs, so using less fuel makes good business sense, and at the same time, helps the environment by reducing emissions,” shares Koso.
He adds that the 2017 Isuzu Crosswind is perfect for getaways and short and long drives not only because of its efficient diesel engine but also for its class-leading third row space, wide enough to fit luggage, shopping bags, and other items.
The Crosswind is also fitted with a roof rack to carry bikes, kayaks, and other equipment.
To make any drive more enjoyable, IPC makes sure that the Crosswind’s entertainment system (DVD/CD/MP3/
WMA/JPEG playback) is updated and at par or even better that competition.
The latest Crosswind also boasts of six speakers—two each in the front as well as rear doors, plus a pair of tweeters—to evenly distribute the sound around the cabin.
According to Koso, the Crosswind perfectly characterizes the commitment that Isuzu has made to the Filipino market.
“We will continue to find more ways to make this vehicle more Filipino-centric,” Koso says.