New Car/Review

1997 ISUZU TROOPER

by Matt/Bob Hagin

Isuzu

SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 37,990
Price As Tested                                    $ 38,615
Engine Type                             3.2 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 193 cid/3165 cc
Horsepower                                   190 @ 5600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               188 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  108.7"/69.5"/178.9"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4665 Pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  22.5 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P245/70R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                  5 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            14/18/16
0-60 MPH                                       11.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     18.5 seconds @ 74.2 mph
Max-towing capacity                                5000 lbs
     * Multi-point fuel injection

(The Isuzu name has been in the U.S. longer than most people think, according to Bob Hagin, and the first vehicles were passenger cars. His son Matt believes the company made a good move by building only SUVs.)

BOB - The first Isuzu I ever encountered was a diesel-powered sedan that a GI had brought over from Okinawa in the early '50s. The company had a history of diesel power and believe it or not, the first Troopers they sold here in '84 could be ordered as oil-burners as well.

MATT - Isuzu dropped that diesel stuff after '87, Dad, and they stopped selling passenger cars here altogether after '93. Since then the company has carved itself a solid niche in the sport/utility vehicle market. It was one of the first to offer a mid-priced model, the Rodeo, which then allowed Isuzu to turn its Trooper into a luxury machine. The Trooper is a relatively vintage design, having come on line as a '92 model, so it has avoided the current "trendy" look in SUVs. It's a tall, stately vehicle that would be right at home at a country estate as the machine used to inspect the premises. When the rear seat is folded down, there's 90 cubic feet of cargo space to haul bales of hay to the stables and with a 5000-pound towing capacity, it would have no trouble pulling a horse trailer to fancy thoroughbred shows.

BOB - You're right about it being big, Matt. It weighs 4600 pounds, which makes its 3.2 liter V6 engine a bit underpowered at 190 horses. The Limited and LS models of the Trooper only come with a four-speed automatic transmission which is in keeping with their upscale images, and the gearbox comes with a three-position selector that be switched from Normal to Power to Winter. This last mode starts the Trooper off in a higher gear to avoid wheel spin on ice. There's a five-speed stick-shift available too, but only in the S version. Technically, I'm kind of intrigued by the fact that the front suspension is sprung by torsion bars while the rear solid axle is sprung by coil springs. This probably helps to control the rear end better than if it was mounted on conventional "cart" springs. But before I did much really serious off-roading, I think I'd like to tighten up the suspension a bit.

MATT - Only a tiny minority of the SUVs sold in the U.S. ever go off-road, so I think the suspension is pretty well suited to what luxury SUV buyers want, Dad. But the four-wheel-drive system can be engaged at speed, which makes it great on snow or wet roads. The limited slip rear differential, anti-skid brakes and 16-inch mud-and-snow tires help in these situations too, which is nice for a family like mine that's into winter sports. The 12-disc CD changer also helps make ski trips more pleasurable, and so do the heated front seats. I really liked the headlight washer and wiper combination, which comes in handy during really bad weather with muddy road conditions.

BOB - You know that I'm not much into gizmos, Matt, but there's a couple of them that I really like on the Trooper Limited. Having knocked the passenger's side mirror off my van when I went through some rough country, I'm appreciative of the Isuzu system that allows the driver to flatten them against the doors. And the overhead-mounted instrument that is a compass, an altimeter, and inside/outside temperature gauge and a barometer impressed me. I don't know when I'd use it, but it sure is fun to operate. And even though it has a 39 degree angle-of-approach to bumps, skid-plates under the engine and transmission and almost nine inches of ground clearance, it looks like this Trooper Limited won't see much hard usage, so I guess that the leather upholstery is appropriate.

MATT - It's gotten to the point where these big luxury wagons are targets for auto thieves and to help counter the problem, this Isuzu has an anti-theft device that disables the ignition if it's messed with, and all the major components are coded to help foil "chop-shops."

BOB - What a shame that auto makers have to go to such lengths to foil crooks, Matt. We didn't have those problems when I was a kid.

MATT - I can understand that, Dad, and I think I know why. I remember you telling me that your first car was only ten dollars. Cars were so cheap back then, who'd want to steal one?

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