City streets, highways, mountain roads and rough, unpaved trails – all of these and more are in a day’s work for the Isuzu Crosswind as we made our way to the summer (and surfer’s) paradise of Baler.
Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) invited a group of motoring media to get re-acquainted with the newly-launched 2015 Isuzu Crosswind on a 230-kilometer drive to Baler, the latest in a series of drives featuring one of the country’s best selling Asian Utility Vehicles (AUVs).
“We at Isuzu believe in continuously improving our products, so we have decided to give it an upgrade, keep it up to the existing market trends to make our customers’ everyday drive more special,” said Nobuo Izamina, IPC president.
Before setting off, we took a look at the updates that Isuzu made to the 2015 Crosswind. The time-tested AUV gets a fresh front fascia with a new matte silver grille, redesigned headlamps with daytime running lamps, a new lower bumper, new wheel designs and other details. The high-riding Sportivo X and XUV variants get an aluminum black side step board, while roof rails are standard for Sportivo X, XUV and XT variants for increased cargo-carrying capabilities.
Once on the road, the venerable 4JA-1 turbodiesel engine continues to be at the heart of the Crosswind, along with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic for convenience. The engine itself may be dated compared to its peers, but its reliability and incredibly easy maintenance requirements make the Crosswind easy on the pocket to own.
The leather seats and the in-dash DVD player units with dual headrest monitors on the top spec Sportivo variants make the Crosswind a strong choice in the segment for cruising on the new expressways north of Manila, especially for large families of seven or more. The 2015 model also gets a back up camera, USB, a reverse sensor and other features as standard for the top-spec variants.
Out of the new expressways and onto provincial highways, mountain roads and rough terrain that leads westward from Tarlac to Cabanatuan and to Baler, the Isuzu Crosswind showed its comfortable driving and riding qualities. Isuzu actually fitted the Crosswind with a comfort-biased rear suspension system that it calls FlexRide. The suspension makes quick work of any imperfections on the road, ensuring a great ride on any kind of path, whether paved or not.
We made our way to Baler and stopped at the center of the town after hours on the road. It is here that the Crosswind feels like it’s in its element; a vehicle made by Filipinos and represents the dream of many Filipinos, a fact that was shared to us by our companion during the drive: IPC Senior Vice President Art Balmadrid.
“There are a lot of new vehicle in the market, but our Crosswind still sells very strongly,” said Balmadrid. “To many Filipinos, especially our dear OFW [overseas Filipino workers]customers, the Isuzu Crosswind is still their dream vehicle to own,” he added.
It’s hard to argue with a vehicle that has a unique charm such as the Isuzu Crosswind, even after 14 years in showrooms since it was originally launched by IPC. Since then, the Crosswind has been constantly and continuously updated and upgraded almost every year, but Balmadrid shared with us a special trait with regards to the owners of the Isuzu Crosswind.
“Check the online classifieds,” said Balmadrid. “Very few of our Crosswind customers actually sell their Crosswinds compared to owners of other models. That’s a unique trait of the Crosswind customer,” he added.
True enough, there were very few Crosswinds actually on sale compared to similar AUVs and MPVs from other brands.
“Our customers buy their Crosswinds and keep them,” he continued as we made our way to our destination: the Costa Pacifica Resort along the coastline of Baler after several hours on the road. “For them, panghabang-buhay na yung Crosswind nila [For them, the Crosswind is for long-term ownership],” Balmadrid concluded.
After spending a long drive in one and seeing how this dated but loyal 2015 Isuzu Crosswind fares, it’s easy to see why.