The original Isuzu Trooper debuted during the early 1980s. Thanks to the public’s nascent demand for SUVs, the Trooper was fairly successful although it was plain and very utilitarian. Its boxy, two-door body has an obvious Land Rover appeal, but early versions were available only with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and were quite underpowered.
Soon, a four-door model joined the lineup, and a GM-sourced V6 engine became available. As the sport-utility market grew, luxury amenities were added to the Trooper, but by the early 1990s, it was apparent that Isuzu needed to redesign the Trooper so it could remain viable in a market populated by steadily improving competitors.
It’s this new “box with round edges” Trooper most people remember. Still truck-based, this wider, longer and taller Trooper added features such as a more powerful V6 and antilock brakes. That design lasted 10 years, and for some of those years Acura sold a rebadged version called the SLX. By the start of the new millennium, however, the Isuzu Trooper had been eclipsed by newer and superior competition and was still suffering from the effects of a negative report published in Consumer Reports magazine. With sales stalled, Isuzu discontinued the model for 2002.
As a used midsize SUV, the second-generation Isuzu Trooper is nicely equipped (in Limited trim) and, thanks to aggressive depreciation, priced affordably. Good off-road ability, excellent outward visibility and a spacious interior are among the Trooper’s other positive attributes. Poor on-road handling and mediocre fuel economy are the Trooper’s main drawbacks. The best years for the Trooper are the mid-to-late ’90s. After that, models like the Ford Explorer or Toyota 4Runner or Sequoia are better choices.