SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 28,650 Price As Tested $ 30,590 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 213 cid/3494 cc Horsepower 215 @ 5400 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 230 @ 3000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.7"/72.2"/187.8" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4297 pounds Fuel Capacity 22.5 gallons Tires (F/R) P245/70R16 mud/snow Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content 15 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 15/19/16 0-60 MPH 12.0 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1010 pounds Maximum towing capacity 5000 pounds * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
(Bob Hagin checked his archives and found that Isuzu's Trooper has been on our market for 16 years. Matt Hagin recalls that in those days, they were rugged off-roaders that only came with four-wheel drive.)
BOB - When the Isuzu sport/utility vehicle line first showed up in '84, they were strictly rough-and-ready back-road vehicles that were more like enclosed pickup trucks with back seats than city-street cruisers. The company marketed passenger cars here at that time, but by the mid-'90s, it decided that it would be smarter to concentrate on the SUV niche. For this model year, Isuzu dealers have five different models on their showroom floors and the Trooper that we're checking out this week is the biggest and most luxurious of the bunch.
MATT - But our Trooper has one major difference from the ones we've gone over in the past. For the first time, it's available with two-wheel drive for buyers who are honest enough to admit that they'll never get into a position where they need four-wheel drive. Our Trooper looks the same as the 4X4 version, but it's a couple of thousand dollars less. Unfortunately, that feature also brings in less money at trade-in time. The styling hasn't changed since its last update in '92 but during those years it's been freshened up with some new trim pieces and body cladding. It's tall and boxy and its driver and passengers get a commanding view of the surroundings.
BOB - The thing is almost tall enough to require a small step-ladder to get onboard and I think that I'd want a pair of those aftermarket tubular running boards that are popular add-on items. The outside spare wheel and tire bolted to the rear door is one of those things you either like or hate. It allows a lot more usable interior space than if it was stored inside the passenger's compartment and if push came to shove, it's more convenient than dragging the spare out from under the chassis to change a flat. The electric outside mirrors are interesting because they can be folded flat against the side of the vehicle to make the whole vehicle much narrower. However, unless the driver has to park in a really narrow garage, I don't see much use for the system.
MATT - If the garage was that narrow, everyone inside would have to climb out the back door, Dad. I think it's one of those things a driver uses once or twice just for fun, then forgets about them. Much more interesting is the 3.5-liter V6 twin-cam powerplant that has four valves per cylinder. It puts out a respectable 215 horses and 230 pound-feet of torque, which leaves enough engineering room for Isuzu engineers to wring out a few more ponies when the competition heats up. Since this one is designed to be a country-club people-mover, the standard transmission is a four-speed automatic with all the latest electronic computer control systems that do all the speed and load-control thinking for the driver. It has a winter mode to let the driver start from a stop in a taller gear to avoid wheelspin in the snow, along with a limited- slip rear differential to keep both rear wheels churning in sloppy road conditions. The transmission also has a power-mode setting to raise the shift points in case the driver of some other brand of SUV wants a stoplight drag race.
BOB - That's illegal, Matt, but it would come in handy towing something on an uphill grade. The Trooper's towing capacity is a hefty 5000 pounds and it can carry almost half a ton. Our test rig has a factory trailer hitch and it's a shame you and your brother didn't get a chance to tow his boat out to the Delta. Your mother liked the fact that the front seats are heated but at $1100 extra, she thought the power- operated sun roof was a waste of money. She also thought the fuel consumption was high at an average of 16 MPG but I pointed out to her that this Trooper weighs in at over 4400 pounds and is a long way from being an econobox sedan.
MATT - Mom has always been frugal about our cars and everything else for that matter for as long as I can remember.
BOB - I guess it came from having to raise you seven kids on a teacher's salary, Matt. She had to make one dollar do the work of two.