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2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

4dr 2WD EXT Limited

Starting at | Starting at 15 MPG City - 20 MPG Highway

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  • $28,569 original MSRP
Printable Version

2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

Printable Version

2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

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2005 Isuzu Ascender

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

The 2005 Isuzu Ascender features improved safety features, a freshened face and interior, and added creature comforts. The Ascender is based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer, but continues an Isuzu tradition of rugged capability with body-on-frame construction and available four-wheel drive.

Ascender comes in 5-Passenger and 7-Passenger versions. The five-passenger version is shorter and it handles better than the seven-passenger version and is much easier to park. We feel the 5-Passenger Ascender ranks among the best of the mid-size SUVs, particularly for buyers who want a rugged vehicle. It features a pleasant cabin and a versatile cargo area. It's relatively smooth and offers responsive handling for a midsize SUV. GM's inline-6 is an excellent engine, smooth and responsive, with strong torque.

The 7-Passenger version, on the other hand, is built on a stretched wheelbase and feels long and cumbersome. The standard six-cylinder engine struggles with the additional weight. The optional 5.3-liter V8 is a better match and, for 2005, it's more powerful and more fuel-efficient than last year's V8. The new V8's Displacement on Demand seamlessly shuts off cylinders at light throttle cruise to further fuel economy.

Safety is enhanced with upgraded airbag systems. Late-2005 Ascender models offer the availability of rollover-sensing roof-rail curtain airbags designed to provide head protection for outboard passengers in the first and second rows. The available OnStar system, which we recommend highly, has been upgraded to better alert emergency crews and summon them to the scene in the event of an accident.

Ascender offers a slightly better warranty than the nearly identical Chevy and GMC models. 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.

Model Lineup

The 2005 Isuzu Ascender is available in regular and long-wheelbase versions. GM's 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine, rated at 275 horsepower, comes on the five-passenger Ascender and is the standard engine on the seven-passenger model. The seven-passenger Ascender has the option of a 5.3-liter V8 rated at 300 horsepower, an increase of 10 horsepower over the 2004 model. All Ascenders come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions are available.

The 5-Passenger Ascender S 2WD ($25,959) and S 4WD ($27,959) comes standard with dual-zone climate controls, power windows, power locks, CD stereo, fog lamps and a tilt steering wheel.

Options add convenience and comfort: A Preferred Equipment Package ($1,519) adds cruise control, an overhead console, illuminated vanity mirrors, keyless entry and a Homelink garage door opener. The LS Package ($1,999) adds a limited-slip differential, a power moonroof, 6CD in-dash changer and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels with a machined finish. The 2WD Luxury Package ($2,699) adds leather interior trim, traction control, adjustable pedals, heated front seats, a Bose premium audio system, OnStar, and monotone paint. The 4WD Luxury Package ($2,569) also gets a 3.73:1 rear axle.

The 7-Passenger Ascender S 2WD ($28,569) and S 4WD ($31,398) get the same standard equipment plus cruise control, a HomeLink transmitter, overhead console and cargo cover. Options packages add the features above. The 5.3-liter V8 ($1,499) is available as an option on the 7-passenger with the LS Package ($2,599).

Walkaround

Isuzu Ascender has a solid, handsome appearance. The 5-Passenger models look best. The 7-Passenger version looks long and a bit out of proportion.

Ascender shares its architecture with the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. Styling details distinguish Ascender from the TrailBlazer and Envoy. Ascender gets a distinctive chromed grille that features the Isuzu badge on a bold horizontal beam intersected by a pair of vertical bars. Ascender also has a unique front bumper with fog lights, halogen headlamps, and special overfenders, protective door trim, and rear bumper. Its five-spoke wheels look like 10-spoke wheels because of the blacked-out center section of each of the spokes, which are arranged in a star-like formation.

Interior Features

The Ascender's cabin is a pleasant place for driver and passengers. It's similar to the interiors in the GM models.

The driver and front passenger will find their shoulder belts mounted into the seat for a proper fit. All seven seats have three-point harnesses. Front-seat passengers have both front and side airbags in the event of an accident.

We appreciated being able to control audio and climate with buttons mounted on the steering wheel, part of an upgrade package. The steering wheel was easy to tilt into a comfortable driving position. One unusual feature was a button on the steering wheel that controls the interior lights.

Switchgear is easy to find and to use. The heating and ventilation systems provide good air flow and we didn't have to constantly fiddle with the settings as we do on some so-called automatic climate control systems. The stereo sounded surprisingly good for a vehicle in this class. There are plenty of cupholders and storage compartments for those sitting in front or in the third row, but there are only two cupholders and audio jacks for the middle seat, which seats three people.

The second-row seatbacks can be reclined, a nice feature that adds to the comfort of rear passengers. Access to the third row is provided either by flipping forward the second-row seatback or by tumbling either side of the seat forward.

The third row folds flat for hauling cargo: The seat bottom cushions tumble forward and the backs flip down. The third-row seatbacks include a panel that extends the cargo floor forward, filling the gap to the folded second row. It isn't a seamless, perfectly flat cargo area, but it works well. Access to the cargo area is made easier by a rear window that can be opened without having to open the entire tailgate. Ascender's cargo area features a package shelf that can be placed in a high or low position, providing an extra surface for holding cargo and cover for the packages beneath it.

Driving Impressions

The Isuzu Ascender comes in two lengths, and it is the shorter of the two that's the better vehicle, at least from a driving standpoint.

The 5-Passenger model has no trouble ascending to highway speeds. Inline six-cylinder engines are naturally balanced, and the Ascender's inline-6 is smooth and quiet. It idles so smoothly that it's sometimes hard to tell it's running. This 4.2-liter engine generates 275 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. It's a wonderful engine, more powerful than many V8s.

It's thirsty, however, EPA-rated 15/20 mpg City/Highway on 4WD models. It comes with GM's four-speed automatic transmission. Called the Hydra-Matic, this transmission has proven itself over the years and many miles in the TrailBlazer, but it doesn't seem to let the engine achieve its full potential.

We found the ride excellent, very smooth without being too soft. The 5-Passenger models are easy to maneuver in crowded parking lots, with tight turning circle of 36.4 feet. Ascender uses an independent front suspension and a live rear axle with premium-quality Bilstein monotube shock absorbers.

We found the 4WD model impressively stable on washboard surfaces. 4WD versions come standard with traction control. When it rains, snows or turns icy, the driver can select the automatic mode and the system will distribute power to the four wheels as needed. For driving off road, the 4-Hi mode provides for a 50/50 front/rear split in the engine's power. Shift into 4-Lo and the Ascender can ascend steep grades, plow through deep snow, or slog through slimy mud. For dry conditions, select 2-Hi for rear-wheel drive and best fuel economy.

We found the 2WD Ascender 7-Passenger model we drove smooth and comfortable, in town and on the highway. Its rack-and-pinion steering was sure. Its four-wheel disc brakes with ABS never wavered. Its BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires on 17-inch wheels are mud-and-snow rated, yet we found them to be extremely quiet, even at highway speeds.

But we find the 7-Passenger Ascender less compelling than the 5-Passenger version. It's longer and narrower than a Chevy Tahoe. It's harder to park. It wallows in corners and doesn't feel as stable when entering a turn at high speeds. And because it's heavier, it taxes the standard six-cylinder engine.

Opting for the V8 engine improves this latter situation, but it doesn't turn the 7-Passenger model into a rocket. The V8 is new for 2005 and features Displacement on Demand, which shuts down four of the eight cylinders when they are not needed for up to 8 percent better fuel mileage under light-load conditions. The engine-management computer instantly revives the sleeping cylinders the moment the driver tips the throttle. This all happens seamlessly; we could not feel it. With this new V8, the 7-Passenger Ascender 4WD gets an EPA-estimated 14/19 mpg. The V8 and 3.73 axle ratio boost Ascender's towing capacity to 6,600 pounds on the 2WD version, 6,200 pounds for the 4WD.

Summary

The Isuzu Ascender 5-Passenger SUV is among the best of the mid-size sport-utilities. Its standard inline six-cylinder engine is smooth and powerful. It rides and handles well. And its interior is convenient and versatile.

The 7-Passenger Ascender is less compelling. Built on a longer wheelbase, it lacks the responsive handling and rock-steady stability of the shorter 5-Passenger models and its increased weight diminishes its acceleration performance.

New Car Test Drive correspondent Larry Edsall is based in Arizona; with Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$25,959
Model lineup:
Isuzu Ascender 5-Passenger S 2WD ($25,959), S 4WD ($27,959); 7-Passenger S 2WD ($28,569); 7-Passenger S 4WD ($31,398)
Engines:
275-hp 4.2-liter dohc inline-6; 300-hp 5.3-liter ohv V8
Transmissions:
4-speed manual automatic
Safety equipment (Standard):
front and side-impact airbags, ABS
Safety equipment (Optional):
roof-rail curtain airbags
Basic warranty:
3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:
Moraine, Ohio
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Isuzu Ascender 7-Passenger S 2WD ($28,569)
Standard equipment:
dual zone climate controls, three-row seating, fog lamps, tilt steering wheel, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, CD player, Homelink garage door transmitter, trailer hitch
Options as tested:
LS package ($2,699) includes automatic climate controls, limited-slip differential, traction control, power moon roof, alloy wheels, six-speaker audio system with controls on steering wheel and rear-seat headphone jacks, electrochromic rearview mirror with compass and driver info center; Preferred Equipment Package ($829) includes dual illuminated vanity mirrors, heated outside mirrors, eight-way power driver's seat, front rear and third row floor mats, remote keyless entry
Destination charge:
685
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$32,782
Layout:
rear-wheel drive
Engine:
4.2-liter dohc inline-6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
275 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
275 @ 3600
Transmission:
4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
15/19 mpg.
Wheelbase:
129.0 in.
Length/width/height:
207.6/76.1/75.5 in.
Track, f/r:
63.1/62.1 in.
Turning circle:
41.3 ft.
Seating capacity:
7
Head/hip/leg room, f:
40.2/55.5/43.1 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
39.6/58.4/37.5 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r:
38.5/45.9/32.2 in.
Cargo volume:
100.2 cu. ft.
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
5000 lbs.
Suspension F:
independent
Suspension R:
solid rear axle
Ground clearance:
8.0 in.
Curb weight:
4773 lbs.
Tires:
P245/65R17
Brakes, f/r:
disc/disc with ABS in.
Fuel capacity:
25.0 gal.

Printable Version

2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Opt
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Std
Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Rain Sensing Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Std
Printable Version

2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

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Printable Version

2005 Isuzu Ascender Sport Utility

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