New Car Review


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SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide

1998 Isuzu Oasis LS

by John Heilig

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE:            2.2-liter 16-valve inline four
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 140 hp @ 5,600 rpm/145 ft-lbs @ 4,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:      20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, 19.3 mpg test
WHEELBASE:         111.4 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    187.2 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    64.6 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     70.6 in.
CURB WEIGHT:       3,483 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:     17.2 gal.
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:  9.8/45.9 cu. ft. (rear seat up/folded)
TIRES:             P205/65R15
INSTRUMENTS:       Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, 
                   water temperature, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:         Power windows, power door locks, 
                   power mirrors, cruise control, 
                   air conditioner with rear controls, 
                   AM-FM stereo radio with cassette 
                   with in-dash CD, power sunroof, 
                   anti-lock braking, dual air bags.
STICKER PRICE:     $26,905

Isuzu builds a sport utility vehicle for Honda that Honda sells as the Passport. In payment for the Passport, Honda builds a minivan for Isuzu. It's the Honda Odyssey turned into the Isuzu Oasis, this week's test car. They are essentially the same vehicle except for some minor trim items to convert the van from a Honda to an Isuzu.

Oasis is a pretty nice minivan to begin with. Configured as it was when we received it, the Oasis is a people mover, with three banks of seats; two captain's chairs in front, two captain's chairs in the middle and a bench seat in the rear. As such, the Oasis can carry seven passengers.

Behind the rear seat is not a lot of luggage space. There is, however, a deep well in the floor behind that rear seat that serves as storage. Into that well the rear seat folds when you want to increase luggage space and if you're carrying four passengers or less. For most of our week we used the Oasis in "truck" configuration as we were carrying items back and forth for our daughter's impending wedding. The Oasis turned out the be the ideal vehicle of choice. We could carry four passengers and we could carry a large amount of cargo behind the rear seat, which made the Oasis a practical vehicle.

In order to get the rear set fully compact so that it will fit into that little hole, you have to remove the head restraints. There is a cubby hole in the rear area that will hold the restraints.

The driver and passenger seats are very comfortable. There are arm rests in the center and good side bolsters and lumbar supports to hold the passengers in the seats.

We used the Oasis on winding roads and Interstates and the Oasis rode very comfortable. On winding roads there was a tendency for the Oasis to want to lean, especially at higher speeds. With the aspect ratio of a minivan--it is taller than it is wide--the center of gravity is higher than it is on sedans and sports cars, so you will have this tendency to lean more than on a lower vehicle. In no case was the apparent tendency near dangerous. We always felt comfortable with the van and had a feel for its limits.

On the Interstates and longer straight stretches, the only deficiency with the Oasis came up, and that was in the engine compartment. This is powered by a 2.2-liter inline four cylinder engine. It is rated at 140 horsepower, but it's really a little underpowered for what the Oasis wants to do. On the highway and once you're up to speed the engine is fine, but if you want to accelerate to pass someone the transmission downshifts and you get a huge amount of noise before anything happens. You have to plan well ahead for any passing maneuvers. A V-6 would be almost perfect in the Oasis.

The Oasis has four doors with swing-out side doors on the driver's and passenger's side. They are more like sedan doors, much like you find on the Mazda MPV. What I would like to have seen, especially on the driver's side, is for the hinging to be at the back rather than the front. This would make access to the rear seat easier for the driver. Quite often, the driver will want o put something in the rear seat. With the door hinged as it is (and it's the same in all sedans) the driver must walk all the way around the door to gain access to the rear. A rear-hinged door would eliminate the walk in traffic.

With the driver's window down there is a lot of wind noise around the rear view mirror. With it up there is no more noticeable noise than with any other minivan.

The Isuzu Oasis is a nice package that does its job well. As a people mover it can transport up to seven passengers in comfort. As a truck it serves a good purpose. It was comfortable to drive and did everything I asked it to do.

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