Project VehiCross Goes Gambling
VehiCross Saves the Neon
We hooked up the VehiCross and with a gentle tug, the Neon was freed. Hooray for the Isuzu! This was our first rescue of the weekend, but wouldn’t be our last. Between us and the JP Jeep, we pulled another four cars free. Unfortunately, the most impressive rescue we completely missed. We hooked into a 3-way tow where we pulled an XJ who pulled an F250 who had gotten stuck in an axle deep mud puddle. What was most impressive about this is we were pulling the truck out of a football field long two-lane mud track and somehow we were able to back both the Jeep and VehiCross in, hook them up, and pull the F250 out without anybody else getting stuck. I’m still not sure how we managed to forget to film that since it was an epic save…  EDIT: One of the JP Jeep guys DID film it and sent me the following video:

VehiCross Conquers the Gambler
With all of the trails run, we pulled over to air our tires back up and get ready for the 450 miles home. Since I had to be at work on Monday we cannon-balled through the night back to KY. We arrived at 1am, promptly passed out, and I sent Jon on his way home bright and early the next day.

This was a hell of an adventure.  All in all, we drove 1,250 miles in the VehiCross over three days, through just about every type of terrain out there.  The Detroit Gambler is a great mix of highways, two-lanes, dirt, mud, sand, and a dash of rock crawling. The VehiCross was the perfect vehicle for this job.  It was comfortable on the long highway cruise, had plenty of space for all of our gear, and even averaged a solid 15 MPG, despite all the off-roading (which involved a ton of idling).  Best of all, we were never even close to getting stuck, no matter what we went through. The Hankook Dynapro ATM tires were especially impressive. Not only were they nice and quiet on the road, but when the going got tough they provided a ton of grip in even the sloppiest conditions.  They were great at self cleaning in the mud, a very important trait as mud can pack into a tire and clog up the tread, turning it into a useless slick. They were great in the sand too, and they took a hell of a beating as we ran over sticks, logs, rocks, and banged into ruts and berms.  For an A/T tire, these were damn good, way more impressive than the much more expensive BFGoodrich T/As we’ve used on other cars.  The most amazing thing of all was that the Dynapros kicked ass on the trails even after 35,000 miles of road driving!  

VehiCross in Downtown DetroitOn top of the killer tires, the VehiCross was jaw dropping.  The 4WD system in this truck just plain works. The TOD was great in the shallow mud, giving us front traction when we needed it (check out the first video of us in the mud pit.  You can actually see right as the mud gets deep and the truck starts to slow, the front axle kicks in and drags the VehiCross back onto dry land). It also worked beautifully in the sand, always keeping us moving and keeping the tires from digging in.  The one place we did start to get stuck was in the sand pit Saturday evening, but we simply popped the transfer case into low range and the Isuzu broke free. Low range in the VehiCross locks the transfer case into a 50/50 split and with the limited slip rear differential, you’re guaranteed to have traction to at least two tires and usually three.  If we wanted to go into serious off-roading with this rig, we’d switch to locking diffs, some skid plates, and add a winch, but that’s about it. The 3” OME lift kit gave us plenty of ground clearance so we never had to worry about banging the oil pan on a hidden rock, or high-center on a berm. The super short wheelbase and tight turning circle meant we could turn around even on tight trails if we needed to and were never worried about high-centering.  The short overhangs meant we were never worried about approach or departure angles or damaging those hard-to-find bumpers. For a daily driver that can also do some pretty serious off-roading, the Isuzu VehiCross really lives up to the hype. It’s just about perfect for overland type off-roading.  

VehiCross Selfie
I don’t always take selfies, but when I do it’s because I just completed a 1300 mile road trip with 300 miles of dirt, sand, mud, and snow in one of the most awesome SUVs ever made.


  1. Those ZJs came with a shitty full time 4WD transfer case with a viscous center section that eventually failed. The NP231s that came in base models were true 4WD (locked front to rear with no differential). Still open diffs front/rear though…

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