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Dead Marque Spotlight: Isuzu


Next up in our ongoing series on discontinued US automotive brands, we’ll be taking a look at Isuzu.  The Japanese brand, which was long associated with General Motors, technically sold its first vehicle in the US back in 1972, though it was sold under the GM umbrella as the Chevrolet LUV pickup.  Only in 1981 did Isuzu begin selling vehicles in the US under its own brand name.  The ‘P’Up’ pickup came first; it was essentially the same vehicle as the Chevrolet LUV.  That was accompanied by the wedge-shaped Piazza coupe.  Shortly thereafter came the vehicle most commonly associated with Isuzu here in the US, the boxy, body-on-frame Trooper SUV.  From its US launch in 1981, Isuzu would go on to sell vehicles here in the United States until the beginning of 2009; its withdrawal the result of industry consolidation.

Below we’ll take a look at a few of these vehicles a little more closely, but for starters, here’s a list of all the vehicles Isuzu sold in the US over its 29-year run:


  • I-Mark
  • Impulse
  • Stylus


  • Oasis


  • Pickup
  • Hombre
  • i-Series (i-280; i-290; i-350; i-370)


  • Trooper
  • Trooper II
  • Rodeo/Rodeo Sport
  • Amigo
  • VehiCROSS
  • Axiom
  • Ascender

Isuzu Stylus – 1990-1993

Isuzu StylusOn sale in the US for the 1990-1993 model years, the compact Stylus was Isuzu’s last real attempt at developing a passenger car before opting to focus exclusively on trucks and SUVs, a decision it made after the 1993 model year.  Word is that the Stylus was the initially-proposed design for the original Saturn S-Series, but GM rejected it in favor of a more Oldsmobile Cutlass-derived design. 17,754 examples were sold in the US during the Stylus’ short tenure. Find an Isuzu Stylus for sale

Isuzu Trooper – 1981-2002

Isuzu TrooperThe Trooper was all-around pretty mainstream.  Sold over two generations, the Trooper was a body-on-frame midsize SUV similar to the Mitsubishi Montero or Toyota Land Cruiser. It offered boxy styling, both four- and six-cylinder engines, low-range gearing for off-road use, and room for five passengers.  That said, there are two versions of the Trooper that are considered extreme outliers, and you may not have known either of them even existed.  First is the two-door Trooper RS, which was sold over both of the Trooper’s generations, but in extremely limited numbers.  The first-gen was offered for 1989 only and only 800 are said to have been imported to the US, while the second-gen Trooper RS was sold from 1993 through 1995, with roughly 2,000 sold.  The other ‘outlier’ Trooper was the Acura SLX, a re-badged Trooper offered as a stopgap solution while Acura developed its own SUV.  In total, about 6,590 SLXs were sold from 1996 to 1999. Find an Isuzu Trooper for sale

Isuzu VehiCROSS – 1999-2001

Isuzu VehiCROSSThe VehiCROSS is easily one of the boldest SUV designs of all time, and made waves when it debuted in 1997.  It was offered exclusively as a two-door, although convertible and four-door concepts were shown at the 2000 LA Autoshow, but never built.  In total, 4,153 VehiCROSSes were sold in the US from 1997-2001. The vehicle shared a lot of its components with the Trooper, including its standard V6 engine.  Four-wheel drive came standard, and every VehiCROSS even came with high-performance off-road shock absorbers with external oil reservoirs. Find an Isuzu VehiCROSS for sale

Isuzu Axiom – 2002-2004

Isuzu AxiomThe Axiom was built on the Rodeo platform and was the last Isuzu-designed vehicle to be sold new in the United States; after its discontinuation in 2004, the only Isuzu models sold stateside were the GMC Canyon-based i-Series pickups and GMC Envoy-based Ascender, leading up to the brand’s withdrawal from the market in 2009.  In fact, the Axiom was sold only in the US and Costa Rica.  The Axiom was meant to replace the Trooper as Isuzu’s flagship product here in the US.  With such a bold design, we have to thing Isuzu had hoped the Axiom would be more successful than it ultimately was. Find an Isuzu Axiom for sale

Isuzu Ascender – 2003-2008

Isuzu AscenderBy the early 2000s, GM had all but assumed full control of Isuzu, and thus the brand’s lineup became a lackluster duo of re-badged GM products.  The i-Series was a re-badged Colorado pickup, while the midsize Ascender SUV was another application of the widely-used GMT360 platform, and was most closely related to the GMC Envoy.  Two versions of the Ascender were sold; a five-passenger model, and a seven-passenger, which was built on the extended GMT370 platform.  When it came down to it, the Ascender offered nothing unique, and ended production in June of 2008 in conjunction with Isuzu’s withdrawal from the US market. Find an Isuzu Ascender for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

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