The 2008 Isuzu Ascender SUV is largely unchanged. Ascender is a traditional truck-type SUV and is essentially a retrimmed version of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. Ascender is available with rear-wheel drive or with 4-wheel drive that can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes low-range gearing. The sole powertrain teams a 285-hp 4.2-liter 6-cylinder engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 5800 lb. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, and curtain side airbags. Note that Isuzu will discontinue sales of light-duty vehicles in North America during calendar 2009.
Ascender matches most traditional truck-type rivals for pace and space. Intenders would be better off with a Chevy TrailBlazer or GMC Envoy, as their pricing and equipment are much the same. Further, Isuzu is discontinuing light-duty vehicle sales in North America. Towing capacity with proper equipment is 5800 lb.
Six-footers enjoy ample headroom and OK kneeroom, plus good under-seat foot space despite the stepped floorboard. The split bench seat is comfortable, fairly supportive, and wide enough for three adults with a little squeezing. As in front, step-in is a bit high. Entry and exit are just OK.
Generous volume is abetted by an easy-fold 60/40 split rear seat with self-stowing headrests, but the resulting load deck is uneven and can frustrate packing. The liftgate’s separate opening glass is fairly high, thus partly negating its usefulness. The cabin has good array of pockets and compartments for small items.
We hear this SUV will be dropped along with its GM-brand cousins during or after the 2009 model year. That’s bad news for the few Isuzu dealers still catering to retail buyers, as the brand’s only other products, the i-series pickups, are said to get the ax by model-year 2010, perhaps ’09.