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!
On 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.