By KBB.com Editors
Have you been itching to get a new GMC Envoy or Chevrolet TrailBlazer, but you're waiting for some big event to ensure you get the most bang for your buck? We're going to let you in on a little secret: The deal you've been waiting for is at this very moment sitting at your local Isuzu dealership. It's the Ascender, a carbon copy of the GMC/Chevrolet twins, with a nearly-identical price tag but with a powertrain warranty over twice as long as its GM cousins (seven-years/75,000 miles vs. three-years/36,000 miles). Unless you need a V8 engine (the Ascender doesn't offer one), with the same suspension, same interior features and same seating capacity, how can you go wrong?
If you love everything about the Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy but you want a better warranty, slightly different styling and can live without OnStar, the Ascender is the way to go.
If you need maximum interior space, the five-passenger Ascender may not offer enough seating for your growing family. A sparse dealer network may make servicing a bit difficult, depending upon where you live.
The seven-passenger model is no more and OnStar is no longer available. On the bright side, a tire pressure monitoring system and machine-finished alloy wheels are now standard.
Driving Impressions On the road, you'll find the Ascender feels controlled and agile. A five-link rear suspension keeps the rear end from bouncing around on rough and broken pavement, and the shock...absorber settings deliver a car-like ride that does not suffer once you move off-road. Four-wheel-drive models feature an automatically-engaged system, which can be left in the automatic mode during normal highway driving, or shifted into four-high or four-low when traversing deep snow, loose sand or off-road trails. The sturdy in-line six-cylinder engine makes a hardy 291 horsepower, providing the Ascender with more-than-adequate response in the areas of acceleration and passing, even when fully loaded.
7-year/75,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty
The Ascender's 7/75 powertrain warranty is one of the best in the business and is over twice as long as the warranties offered on either the Chevrolet TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy.
Adjustable Foot Pedals
The optional power-adjustable foot pedals (part of the Luxury Package) make finding a comfortable driving position a breeze.
The Ascender's instrument panel is modern and fresh, with neat semicircular air ducts on the center stack and tasteful wood grain appliques surrounding the radio and heating controls. Upgraded models feature steering wheel-mounted touch controls for the audio and cruise control functions, allowing you to keep your hands on the wheel while making adjustments. Color choices inside are limited to gray or beige, but the plastics have a nice heavy texture and generally fit together well.Exterior
The Ascender is a solid-looking SUV with a purposeful front-end design and handsome sheet metal all around. It has a number of thoughtful conveniences, like the right-side mirror that tilts down when the transmission is placed into reverse, or the puddle lamps built into the bottom halves of the outside mirrors to illuminate the ground alongside the vehicle.
The base Ascender includes a four-speed automatic transmission, power windows, dual-zone manual air conditioning with rear-seat controls, engine immobilizer, three 12-volt power outlets, fog lights, two-tone paint, tilt wheel, AM/FM stereo with CD and rear wiper/washer.
Options include dual power mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, luggage rack with crossbars, full-time four-wheel drive, power adjustable foot pedals, head-curtain airbags, leather seats, eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, Bose audio and cruise control.
The 4.2-liter in-line six is all the Ascender needs, unless you want to tow something really big, in which case a V8-powered SUV might make a better choice. The 4.2-liter engine is surprisingly smooth and quiet, generating terrific low-end torque and good fuel economy.
4.2-liter in-line 6
291 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
277 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/21 (4WD)
By Air Force 1 on Saturday, July 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of room, great traveling car"
Cons: "Gas mileage but for the size really no too bad."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I have had 10 great years with this car. Its the 3rd Isuzu I have purchased. Reliability, dependability and great ride has been its signature. Isuzu is the unsung hero of the auto world for taking better known vehicles and putting their name on it at prices us common folks can afford."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Julie on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"7 yrs & only had to replace battery & tires, Oil changes & check every 3 months. This is the longest I have ever kept a vehicle & I used to buy a new car every 2 years whether I needed it or not! I wish they still made these, I would purchase another in a couple more years."
By dee on Sunday, April 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 127,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great, solid, sturdy reliable"
Cons: "stupid gas gauge issue lowers value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great sturdy car, looks good too! No mechanical issues at all for over 120k miles, love that! but Important: at 121,000 my gas gauge stopped working. I got a letter from Isuza stating there was a problem with gas gauges stopping, cost to fix $2,000 and Isuzu would pay IF (what they call a big if) you had 120,000 miles or less. Wow, how long did they hold on to that important letter? google this car with "cluster" problems. The issue is unless you spend $2000 to fix that gas gauge, you can't sell it for what its worth as the light stays on, the "empty tank" bells rings so you much keep the odometer set so you know how far you have driven on a tank of gas. Will have to sell for big discount. Otherwise its an awesome driving car, I will miss it when/if I can sell it."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Kat on Thursday, March 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my third Isuzu and I am heartbroken that they no longer make this vehicle. I have owned the Ascender since 2005 when it was new and have never had a problem with the car. Gas mileage has been better than most of my friends smaller autos. The car is comfortable, stable, beautiful and since it will probably live for another ten years, it is going to my daughter. Great car!"
By Tony Soprano on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Stylish looking"
Cons: "Too many mechanical issues even tho I baby my ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Purchased new and only have 54k total miles. I baby my vehicles and take excellent care of vehicles. Garage kept. So far, have not good things to say. Paint cracked..wax car three times a year by hand. Transmission leaks...had to fix that. Computer module has issue that dealer can't find. Gauges work off an on, tach does not work at all, headlights turn off while driving, seats work one day and not the next, sun/moon roof plastic pieces broke cannot get replacement part so you have to buy a new twelve hundred dollar unit so cannot use that, leather came apart at seams and various other minor issues. Very disappointed in my choice and most likely not buy another Isuzu."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Jason on Saturday, January 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Bang for the buck, big engine with fair mpg"
Cons: "Nothing to moan about"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Third row is truly a row of seats with plenty of leg room and leaving room in trunk. The exterior style has been timeless, we still receive compliments on the looks for a car I have owned for eleven years."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful