2003 Ascender New Car Test Drive
Isuzu has a new flagship for its fleet of sport utility vehicles for 2003. The Isuzu Ascender replaces the venerable Trooper. Ascender is new for Isuzu, but it isn't a completely new vehicle. Instead, it's a slightly modified version of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL introduced in the spring of 2002.
Ascender appears to be a good deal for both Isuzu dealers and their customers. Isuzu dealers get a proven new product to sell. Isuzu customers get an SUV that's roomier and more powerful than last year's Trooper. Ascender's base price is only $544 more than the Trooper's.
Best of all, the Ascender comes with Isuzu's three-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a new seven-year/75,000-mile roadside assistance program, and seven-year/75,000-mile powertrain coverage. The Chevrolet and GMC versions of the vehicle are covered by a three-year/36,000-mile warranty program.
With the introduction of the Ascender, all 2003 models Isuzu sells in the U.S. are built in the U.S.
Isuzu Ascender is available in four trim packages, S, Preferred, LS, and Limited. Two engines are available, both from General Motors: a newly developed 4.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine rated 275 horsepower and a 5.3-liter V8 rated 290 hp. All Ascenders come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel drive and four-wheel driver versions are available. Ascenders come standard with four-wheel disc brakes, independent front suspension and a live rear axle, rack-and-pinion steering, 17-inch wheels, and a trailer hitch. All come standard with three rows of seats.
Standard equipment on the base S 2WD ($28,649) and S 4WD ($31,349) includes dual zone climate controls, power windows, power locks, keyless entry, CD stereo, fog lamps, tilt steering wheel, and a Homelink (garage door) transmitter. The Preferred Equipment Package ($500) includes a driver's seat with eight-way power and two-way power lumbar adjustment, illuminated vanity mirrors on the sun visors, and heated exterior mirrors.
The LS Package ($3,250) adds traction control, automatic climate control, power front passenger seat, six-speaker audio system, steering-wheel audio controls, rear-seat audio controls and headphone jacks, driver information center, TravelNote voice recorder, electrochromic (self-dimming) rearview mirror with compass, a one-year subscription to OnStar's Safe and Sound communications package, limited-slip rear differential, power moon roof with sun shade, alloy wheels, luggage rack crossbars. (LS package retails for $3,100 on 4WD models, which already have traction control.) The V8 engine ($1,490) is available as an option with the LS package.
The Limited Package ($2,110) comes standard with the V8 plus special monotone paint, black exterior mirrors, running boards, moisture-sensing wipers, leather-covered seating surfaces, heated front seats, Bose premium audio, and a memory package that sets seat position, mirrors, radio pre-sets and other settings for different drivers.