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The Isuzu Oasis: The Rebadged Honda Odyssey That Time Forgot

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author photo by Will Kinton October 2016

Back in the early- to mid-1990s, Honda and Isuzu entered into an agreement that must have made several Japanese businessmen very happy until the sake wore off. Isuzu agreed to sell the Rodeo and Trooper SUVs to Honda so they could be rebadged as the Honda Odyssey and the Acura SLX, and Honda agreed to let Isuzu rebadge the Honda Odyssey as the Isuzu Oasis. At the time, the deal made slightly more sense -- Suzuki had shut down passenger-car production in 1993, and Honda wanted a piece of that hot American SUV market but had nothing in the chamber ready to go. What could go wrong?

The people at the top of Isuzu probably thought they had just hit a home run. The Honda Odyssey was winning awards left and right and selling almost as fast as the Civic, so a rebadged Odyssey would probably fly off the lots. Isuzu bet that rational consumers would look at the Oasis -- which was almost exactly the same as the Odyssey in every way -- see that it was cheaper and had a better warranty and make the obvious choice. There really was no reason to buy the Honda Odyssey over the Oasis, unless you irrationally were dead set on buying a van with a chrome "H" on the front.

Unfortunately for Isuzu, plenty of consumers were irrationally dead set on buying the van with a chrome "H" on the front. Honda's brand recognition caused the Odyssey to dramatically outsell the Oasis at a rate of 33 to 1. By the end of the first generation, Honda had sold over 300,000 Odysseys, while Isuzu struggled to sell 3,000 units a year throughout the entire production run, with most Oasis models going on to live hard lives as New York City taxicabs.

Today, the Oasis is extremely rare. Considering the low sales numbers and the fact that most are probably rotting in junkyards by now, you'd probably turn heads at Cars and Coffee if you arrived in one. Currently, there is only one available on Autotrader across the entire country, with a price of $3,995. The seller quickly points out: "THIS IS A HONDA ODYSSEY DISGUISED AS A Isuzu Oasis!!"

It seems like the Oasis still can't get respect.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Isuzu Oasis: The Rebadged Honda Odyssey That Time Forgot - Autotrader