SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide
Sport-utility vehicles are the hottest things on four wheels these days. Growth in this market segment has been nothing short of phenomenal, and sport-utilities have replaced sports cars as the prestige models for many manufacturers. A decade ago, SUVs were still basic utility vehicles, designed for backcountry life and emphasizing practicality over luxury. Today, luxury sport-utilities are such serious competition to traditional luxury cars that nearly all luxury manufacturers are eager to produce their own SUVs.
A very good example of the evolution of sport-utility vehicles can be found in the Isuzu Trooper. When it was first introduced in 1984, the Trooper II was a utilitarian two-door machine powered by a four-cylinder engine. It had plenty of interior space, adequate power for its intended purposes, but was short on creature comforts. "Luxury" was not a word to be associated with the original Trooper II. In 1992 the "II" was dropped and a new softer-lined and more powerful four-door all purpose vehicle debuted.
For 1995 Isuzu introduced a new luxury Limited edition of the now venerable Trooper. It has all of the niceties of the LS and more. The Limited boasts all of the usual luxury cues - good soundproofing, leather upholstery, walnut veneer, excellent highway riding qualities, all of the comforts of a luxury sedan, plus a 12-cartridge CD player. It is not inexpensive, but is priced significantly less than some other luxury sport-utes. It offers all of the comforts of a luxury sedan and all-weather, multi-terrain capabilities.
APPEARANCE: This year the Trooper has been redesigned to give it a more aggressive and sporty look. Rocker panel extensions, new wider over-fenders, newly-designed 10-spoke alloy wheels and molded mud flaps make it appear wider and more aggressive. Contrasting colored lower body cladding adds practicality and sportiness. Another practical feature is the 70/30 side opening rear doors, with full-size spare tire mounted on the wider door. This allows cargo of most any size to be easily unloaded at floor level. Bright fold-way side mirrors improve vision.
COMFORT: The Trooper Limited is not lacking for creature comforts. Standard equipment includes a leather and wood grain interior. The driving position can be tailored to fit any tastes as the heated, leather-covered front seats are electrically adjustable every which way and the steering wheel can be tilted. The instrument panel is new this year. The rear bench seat will hold two people in comfort and a third reasonably well. It folds down with a 60/40 split just in case the normal cargo area isn't quite cavernous enough. Passenger access is helped by an assortment of grab handles. The power-operated moon roof impairs headroom only for extremely tall people. The Isuzu Trooper is no cramped sports coupe.
SAFETY: All Troopers now have dual air bags, side-impact protection beams and child safety locks in the doors. All important mechanical parts are protected by skid plates. The Limited is fitted with four-wheel antilock ventilated disc brakes, keyless entry and anti-theft systems.
ROADABILITY: The Trooper has a very good sport-utility ride. The suspension has gotten some detail improvements this year and features longer wheel travel than before. It is not an old-days harsh truck. However, the height of the vehicle amplifies any motion. One gets used to this quickly, and the height is advantageous for visibility in traffic. There is little tire or wind noise and, unlike some sport-utilities, the Trooper doesn't wander on the highway. Good ground clearance and skid plate protection make the Trooper a capable off-roader, and it should perform like a real trooper in the snow. It has a towing capacity of 5000 pounds.
PERFORMANCE: The Trooper Limited has a 3.2-liter dual overhead cam 32-valve all- aluminum V6 engine that develops 190 horsepower. It has been refined to develop more power at lower speeds and works well with the 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. Even though the Trooper is no lightweight, there is plenty of power for all uses. The Limited has four-wheel drive that is useable at speeds up to 50 mph. The front hubs have automatic locking.
CONCLUSIONS: The Isuzu Trooper Limited illustrates the changes that have occurred in sport-utility vehicles in the last few years and is a good example of a contemporary luxury sport-utility.
1995 ISUZU TROOPER LIMITED
Base Price $ 36,800 Price As Tested $ 37,220 Engine Type V6, dohc, 24-v, mpfi Engine Size 3.2 liter/193 cid Horsepower 190 @ 5600 Torque (ft/lbs) 195 @ 3800 Wheelbase/Length 109"/184" Transmission four-speed auto w/lockup converter Transfer case part-time two-speed Curb Weight 4510 lbs. Pounds per Horsepower 23.7 Fuel Capacity 22 gal. Fuel Requirement Unleaded regular (87 oct) Tires P245/70R16 all-season Brakes vented discs front and rear, ABS standard Drive Train Front engine/rear drive, on-demand 4WD Ground Clearance 8.5 inches PERFORMANCE EPA Economy - miles per gallon city/highway/observed 14/17/16.2 0 to 60 mph 11.2 sec 1/4 mi (E.T.) 18 1 sec Coefficient of Drag (Cd) .42 Towing Capacity 5000 lbs