The Isuzu Ascender was a 5- to 7-passenger SUV produced by Isuzu Motors America between 2003 and 2008. Intended to replace the aging Isuzu Rodeo and slow-selling Axiom SUVs, the Ascender was introduced in both a short wheelbase 5-passenger model and an extended 7-passenger model. Both vehicles were based heavily on the GMC Envoy SUV. While the 7-passenger model was dropped from the lineup in 2006, the 5-passenger model would remain in production for another 2 years.
The Ascender's powerplants were derived from those featured in the General Motors SUVs. These included a 4.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that produced 285 horsepower and 277 pound feet of torque, and a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produced 300 horsepower and 330 pound feet of torque. The V8 engine, which featured General Motors' Displacement on Demand technology, was dropped after 2006, leaving only the 6-cylinder engine available. Both engines used a 4-speed transmission with overdrive.
The Ascender was the result of Isuzu's alliance with General Motors. Both companies have shared product platforms and designs before, often rebadging each other's vehicles in order to fill gaps in certain market segments. The Ascender is essentially identical mechanically to both the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. The Ascender's styling was identical to the Envoy, with only a unique chrome grill and front bumper treatment separating it from its GMC counterpart. Along with the i-Series compact pickup truck, the Ascender was the last truck-based vehicle to be sold in the United States under the Isuzu name. The Ascender was eventually cancelled when the automaker withdrew from the U.S. market in early 2009.
The Ascender was available in S, LS and Limited trim variants, both in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Standard equipment for the Ascender included dual-zone climate control with rear-seat controls, stereo with CD player, power windows and power door locks. Optional items included heated seats, leather upholstery, keyless entry, power adjustable foot pedals, sunroof, cruise control and an upgraded audio system with six-CD changer.
The 5-passenger Ascender S started out with a base manufacturer suggested retail price of nearly $26,000. The 7-passenger Ascender Limited topped the price range at $36,409, before destination fees and other charges. Fuel economy figures recorded during EPA tests varied depending on the configuration chosen. These figures ranged from 16 miles per gallon city and 22 miles per gallon highway to 15 miles per gallon city and 20 miles per gallon highway.
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