I know what you're thinking.
Why could we be possibly be reviewing an Isuzu Crosswind? What new thing can we find about a generation of car that has been on sale since I was in college 10 years ago.
But since then, the Crosswind has existed steadily, maintaining a good chunk of the MPV/AUV market share even in the face of new competition such as the dominant Toyota Innova. At least on paper, It's hard to see why so many people still buy the Crosswind. Perhaps a drive would tell me more.
For one, there's the look.The Crosswind, over the years, has received enough facelifts to make you think that Belo is working for Isuzu. Frankly, it's a good thing, exhibiting how the car has been updated to give it a fresher look year after year.
It's a dated body, but has been given new projector headlamps, big, powerful foglamps, new chrome bits like the bumper, door handles, side mirrors and an new grille, as well as new chrome rims. Honestly, in terms of looks, I still find it a manlier choice than the Adventure and a better looking than the current Innova.
Inside, not much has changed. The Crosswind still retains the same interior as before. There's nothing wrong about it, but it just feels a bit 90's in here. The dashboard reminds me of the one in the Isuzu Trooper of old. The buttons feel the same. The controls feel the same. Everything is very similar.
The steering wheel feels beefy to hold, while the leather on the seats do feel pretty good. What they have done is outfit the Crosswind Sportivo with a new DVD system with a small monitor in front and dual headrest LCD for the rear passengers. It's pretty good to have around on a long drive, especially if you have kids in the back.
What I do wish they put in is a proper suite of safety features, especially for this top of the line model. Still, the Crosswind does not have any airbags, nor does it have anti-lock brakes. The only real safety features are the seatbelts, back up sensors and rear camera.
The engine has not changed ever since Isuzu initially sold the Crosswind: a 2.5 liter, SOHC 8-valve turbo diesel. No fancy computer controlled, common rail direct injection here. It produces 85 horsepower and 185 Newton meters of torque. In this particular example, the engine is matched with a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Driving it around town is not a problem, but you get the feeling that the Crosswind's automatic does rob a lot of power from the engine. As such, based on a quick fuel economy computation (the Crosswind does not have a fuel eco meter), the Crosswind does just 9.2 kilometers per liter of diesel in city driving (moderate traffic).
Where the Crosswind does shine is in the comfort department. The Flex Ride suspension really does work, absorbing much of the road's many imperfections for you. Don't try to take on winding mountain roads at speed, as the soft suspension will give you that queasy feeling.
So why do so many people still buy what is essentially a decade old car? Simple: the ownership experience. It's comfortable, it looks pretty good, but more importantly, it's simple and extremely easy to maintain. Having a simple diesel engine with no fancy electronics means low maintenance costs and fewer components to break over the long haul. No wonder OFWs keep on checking our website's buyer's guide to look at the Isuzu Crosswind, making it one of the most searched cars in our database. True story.
Remember the aftermath Ondoy? My village in Pasig was extremely quiet the next day because all the cars were waterlogged. The first engine sound I heard was of a neighbor's flooded Isuzu Crosswind. His lights didn't work, his expensive DVD system was busted, but the engine was working fine after a quick check and oil change. Go figure.
Isuzu have banked their reputation on the reliability of their diesel engines, and that in itself is one heck of a selling point. I still wish they would come up with a replacement that can truly rival the Toyota Innova D-4D, but the Isuzu Crosswin still stands strong. It's not a great drive by any yardstick, but hey, the Crosswind is one great car to own.