EarthCruiser, one of America’s largest overland vehicle manufacturers, moves to a new platform for some of its models. The company switches to the Isuzu NPR Series Class 4 platform, which replaces the previous Fuso platform. This move covers the next-generation EXP and FX EarthCruiser models, as well as the CORE model.
The company combines the new architecture with its proprietary 4x4 drivetrain and implements upgrades to the platform to create “the most agile and capable vehicle in its class.” EarthCruiser says the new Isuzu platform provides the ideal size and footprint for an adventure vehicle of this class and also provides solid performance and reliability. The result, the firm says, is the only cab-over all-wheel-drive vehicle in this segment in the United States.
Gallery: Earthcruiser new Isuzu platform
The Isuzu platform is built in Charlotte, Michigan, and uses an American-sourced 6.6-litre V8 powertrain. Produced by General Motors, the unit has a peak output of 350 bhp and 425 lb-ft of torque and is used in GM’s Heavy Duty range of pickup trucks.
EarthCruiser says the cab-over concept of the platform offers “unmatched” visibility, which helps in off-road situations. Also, models based on such platforms come with impressive maneuverability. What’s probably the most important factor for an overlanding camper vehicle, however, is that this platform enables the shortest possible vehicle with the largest possible living space.
Transferring the power from GM’s V8 engine is EarthCruiser’s own four-wheel-drive system which was designed with widely available off-the-shelf components from the industry. The company explains the 6.6-litre engine fits the EarthCruiser’s custom gearing and delivers high low-end torque on the trail.
Adapting the Isuzu platform to the all-wheel drive wasn’t an easy task, though. The platform is designed for just a single driving axle, but EarthCruiser modified it to fit its 4x4 system without touching its powertrain. The company strips the stock chassis and replaces the suspension and driveline, and also fits an Atlas transfer case Fusion axles with Auburn electronically locking differentials.
EarthCruiser promises it will continue supporting the old Fuso-based models with service and maintenance.