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SEE ALSO:Isuzu Buyer's Guide

It has been a couple of years since Isuzu introduced the latest edition of its highly successful Trooper. Since its original debut in 1984, as the Trooper II, it has dramatically changed from a boxy two- door, four-cylinder, truck-like utility vehicle to a smooth four-door, V6-powered luxury sports utility vehicle. It now offers many passenger sedan-like features along with its off-road capabilities.

The Trooper is available in three trim packages, the standard or S model, and the higher powered and higher contented RS and LS models. While the Trooper S is quite well equipped, Isuzu, in an effort to broaden its consumer base, has developed two special equipment packages that tend to make it very close in power and appointments to fancier cousins, the RS and LS vehicles. When outfitted with Isuzu's Appearance and Preferred Equipment packages this version becomes a real value in the upscale end of the sports utility field. While its V6 engine is slightly less powerful it has the same running gear as the more luxurious models and its general appearance and trim is nearly identical to them.

Here are my recollections after having the opportunity to drive the Trooper S over a special off- road trail, as well as back roads, city streets and interstate highways:

APPEARANCE: The Trooper is unmistakably a sport-utility vehicle. Although its lines are rounded and somewhat softened, it is still high and boxy. The word that first comes to mind in describing it is "utilitarian", but it is a prime application of that old addage that "form follows function". The appearance package provides the S model with a bright radiator grille, shiny large power side mirrors that can automatically be folded flat when travelling in very narrow areas, alloy wheels and body colored bumpers. All Troopers have unique 70/30 split rear doors that can be opened with one hand. The covered spare tire is mounted on the "70" side for easy access and increased cargo space.

COMFORT: While the standard equipment could well satisfy the needs for many buyers, those who desire passenger car amenities on this basic sport utility vehicle can, for about $ 2,000, add air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, an upgrade six-speaker sound system, plus very comfortable 60/40 split and reclining rear seats, as well as a cargo cover and convenience net. The Trooper was specifically designed for all-weather use, and all controls and switches and controls are not only ergonomically located for easy and safe use, but major controls are designed to be easily usable even when wearing ski gloves. The tastefully upholstered seating is not only comfortable, but designed for flexiblility so that, according to needs, from 1 to 5 adults can be seated. Cargo security is enhanced by the window-shade type cover. The climate control and sound systems are more than adequate for this multi- purpose conveyance.

SAFETY: The EPA classifies sports-utility vehicles as special purpose vehicles, and, as such, they are not subjet to many of the safety rules and regulations for passenger cars. While the Trooper S is not required to be fitted with airbags, it is equipped with rear wheel anti-lock brakes. All-wheel anti-lock brakes are an available option. Other safety features include power assisted, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, side- guard door beams and three-point front and rear outboard seat belts.

ROADABILITY: Even though the Trooper S has a very positive off-road capability, when on the paved road it behaves very much like a passenger car. Its ride is soft and quiet and the high 4X4 seating delivers great all-around vision. For off-road jaunts drivers will appreciate the protection provided by the triple skid plates that shield vital underframe components. Automatic locking hubs make it easy to shift from two- to four-wheel drive, and the optional, but desirable, limited slip differential and all-weather Goodyear Wrangler AP tires contribute to driving stability.

PERFORMANCE: The Trooper S is powered by Isuzu's single overhead cam, 24 valve, multiport fuel injected V6 aluminum alloy engine that produces 175 horsepower. Importantly for off-road use as well as for quick acceleration it puts out 188 foot/pounds of torque. The transfer case shifter and automatic transmission shift lever are conveniently located for easy gear and drive wheel changes in adverse weather conditions. A "winter" setting on the transmission locks out the lower two gears to insure positive traction on slippery surfaces. The Trooper can tow up to 5000 pounds.

CONCLUSION: The latest Trooper S offers an excellent combination of no-nonsense all-terrain capability coupled with passenger car amenities plus roomy storage and hauling capacity.


	   Base Price              $  22,400
	   Price As Tested         $  25,840
	   Engine Type             V-6, sohc -24v,  mpfi
	   Engine Size             3.2 liter/193 cid
	   Horsepower              175 @ 5200
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         188 @ 4000
	   Wheelbase/Length        109"/184"
	   Transmission            four speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             4340
	   Pounds per Horsepower   23
	   Fuel Capacity           22
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tires                   Goodyear Wrangler AP P245/70R M+S
	   Brakes                  rear wheel ABS standard    disc/disc    
	   Drive Train             front engine/rear drive - part time 4 WD
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed 15/18/16.1
	   0 to 60 mp              11.4 sec
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)           18.5 sec 
	   Towing Capacity         5000 lbs
	   Payload                 1200 lbs