2005 Isuzu Ascender SUV (547)


This week we’re taking a look at the 2005 Isuzu Ascender 5 passenger SUV. News flash: this is just another player in this once popular form of transportation before skyrocketing fuel prices around the globe forced buyers to consider alternatives. Sound like a future statement in the later part of the 21st Century. Nope – it is here now and I’m hearing more and more comments from readers that they are not in the market for gas burners that consume this much fuel. To some, a doubling of prices of gas at the pump this past year is not a deterrent to travel by highway in their SUV. Yes, some will have the dough to burn while others will find alternative means of transportation. Commuters will car pool, take the Metro Rail or purchase a car that gets twice the mileage. Pretty simple, eh?

It is certain you will have to take a loss when you dump that gas hog. So don’t tarry. Move quickly and get out cheap ahead of the rush. I don’t want to cause a run on the bank, so to speak, or encourage an exodus to a promised land of milk and cars that run on it. But I don’t need to. Even though there aren’t enough people who read my column to do that anyway, this is the obvious mood of the consumer. I think most people are smart and are noticing the signposts along the way and will make the move sooner or later. I encourage sooner.

However, if you don’t care about the cost of running your car, truck or RV, join me in considering this Isuzu Ascender. The model I tested is the five passenger, but you can buy a seven passenger if you believe kids are cheaper by the dozen. The Brady Bunch would have to leave one person home, or tie them to the roof rack.

Handling & Performance:

Very good vibes. Surely up to challenging those companies who were first on the SUV scene.


Styling is consistent with the look we’ve come to love. The interior is better than most and Japanese quality makes the design jump out at you. While Isuzu hasn’t enjoyed as much popularity as Toyota and Nissan this is a thoughtful if not cookie cutter clone that is less expensive.

Fit and Finish:

Assembly is typical Japanese in spite of the fact it was put together here in the US. The straw boss must still be Japanese with a Samurai Sword to cut the dead weight.


It is cost competitive but still more than it should be. You know you are getting old when prices like this amaze you.


Not bad. But the price and poor fuel economy make all the rest less important in my buying decision.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you MUST own an SUV, you will want to test-drive this one for a comparison with more expensive versions. And if you see the world demand of oil making an SUV too expensive to operate, change your perception of what you really need.

The Competition: 

Isuzu Ascender $26-37,000, Mercury Mountaineer $30-39,000, Ford Explorer $27-38,000, GMC Envoy $29-40,000, Buick Rainier $34-36,000, Dodge Durango $27-36,000, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $26-33,000, Toyota 4Runner $28-38,000, Honda Pilot $28-34,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $26-33,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $26-34,000, Nissan Pathfinder $25-35,000, Lexus GX 470 $46,225.

Good News: 

Nice styling and decently priced.

Bad News:

Typical poor fuel economy.

Standard Equipment: 

4.2 liter 6 cylinder 275 horsepower engine, 4-speed auto trans, anti-theft immobilizer, on demand 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, power steering, stainless exhaust, dual front air bags, fog lights, rear child door locks, variable wipers and rear wiper washer / wiper, climate control, power windows and locks, 2nd row split and fold seat, tilt steering column, center console, wood grain trim, platform trailer hitch and 17 inch alloy wheels.

Gas Stats:

15 City and 20 Highway MPG


MSRP $27,959.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

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