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Isuzu Trooper

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,127
    Off-topic, but I thought some of you would get a kick out of this link.

    Next thing you know, CR will start taking Isuzu ads.

    Steve
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  • seanreidseanreid Posts: 152
    Thanks very much for all the feedback so far. Just wanted to address one misunderstanding.

    Regarding the 4-runner system...

    In 1999 and 2000 the limited model 4runners came with an optional center differential which, if I recall, uses a viscous coupling to determine the power split between the front and rear wheels. With this option, the truck can be used in 2WD, 4WD(center diff locked) or AWD. I've owned several part-time 4WDs as well as AWDs. I find that the big advantage of AWD is the ability to leave the system engaged on mixed pavemment surfaces - dry turning to ice turning to snow turning to dry, etc. I also find that a paved road in the rain does not have enough slip to use P/T 4 wd in. The 1999 and 2000 runners can also be had with a locking rear diff.

    In 2001, Toyota introduced a system on the 4Runner which is shared with the newer 100 series Land Cruiser and the Seq...(can't seem to spell this morning). With this system, the front and rear diffs are open, if I recall correctly. The vehicle skid control/traction control system will selectively brake any individual wheel as needed.
    This also seems to eliminate the need for a locking diff. With an open diff, one would expect the wheel without traction to spin while the opposite wheel gets little or no power. The VSC/TC system, however, effectively fools the open diff by braking the spinning wheel (only) and thus tricking the open diff into sending power to the opposite wheel. It's a darn clever system and seems to work very well according to all reports I've heard.

    None of that technology, alas, solves my headroom challenges with the 4-runner. So, getting back to the Trooper. I have a lot more expertise with two wheels than four but I do drive a lot of dirt roads under all kinds of conditions. This is my best guess about what is happening with the Trooper on an uphill dirt road: The TOD senses that the rear wheels have been loaded (given that the truck is headed uphill and its effective cg has shifted rearward) and thus sends most of the power to the rear wheels. When the rear end chatters over a bumpy surface, the stock tires aren't grabbing very well when they return to earth and are getting 85% of the power without having much grip on the road. So, the truck rear end kicks out. I'm hoping this is just a tire issue (and of course tires can make a huge difference). To be sure, the rear end on the Trooper I drove yesterday came out much too easily with the stock tires.

    Appreciate the thoughts and feedback, please keep it coming.

    Sean Reid
    Rockingham, Vermont
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That loosing traction while on a bumpy road is due to the poor shocks used on the trooper. They are hydrolic ones that usually go bad in the first 10K miles. When I changed mine out at 10K they looked and felt like hell. Put in a set of Rancho 9000s and that jump while on a bumpy road fixed itself.

    -mike
  • seanreidseanreid Posts: 152
    Well now, that's an interesting thought. It fits the symptoms as I only saw this behavior when the rear end chattered over rougher road. Better shocks certainly would glue it to the road better so maybe Rancho 9000s all around might be the answer. Thanks Mike. Any feedback on this from other folks who have swapped the shocks?

    Sean Reid
    Rockingham, Vermont
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    Congrats on considering the Trooper. It's easy to see that you're an educated consumer, and the Trooper really is an educated consumer's choice. I like the 4Runner too, but the Trooper is better in some areas that are important to me (value, passenger room, cargo room, etc.)

    Overall, it sounds like the Trooper is a great fit for your criteria and needs.

    We have a 98 Trooper w/63,xxx miles. Bought from Isuzu dealer at 1 year old and 7k miles. It was a corporate Isuzu vehicle. Apparently, Isuzu auctions these year-old Troopers at Isuzu dealer-only auctions, and then dealers sell them for $8-10k below original MSRP, which is approximately $1-3k below the price a smart buyer could get on a brand new one.

    This is a great way to get a nearly new Trooper for a less-than-new price. Also, Isuzu considered that we had bought a new Trooper: since the 'original' owner was Isuzu USA, the vehicle had never been titled. I'm not sure, but the 10yr/120k powertrain warranty might still be in effect if you went this route.

    Previously, we had a 96 Trooper for a year. Bought used at 27k miles, was totaled at 50k miles. Was very sad to see it go. While we had it, it lived up to the high Trooper reliability standards.

    To hit the items on your list about which I have experience/opinion:
    1. Bulletproof reliability long term - agree. Our 98 has had very few repairs. We did have a (cracked?) head gasket problem just before the 60k powertrain warranty expired. I think that one is fairly common for the newer 3.5L Troopers (3.5L started in '98, but you already knew that). Also a couple other minor hardware issues: e.g. in-dash CD changer was replaced (a fairly common problem, I think), my mom broke the right rear interior door handle
    and it wouldn't open, etc. As for routine maintenance, I've minimized those costs by 1) ignoring what I feel are the unimportant dealer 'checks' that comprise the majority of the scheduled maintenance; 2) doing some stuff myself (mostly fluid changes); and 3) having other things (e.g. tire rotations) done at non-dealer shops.

    2. 19 - 20 mpg on the highway using regular gas - our 98 is rated 15 mpg city, 19 highway. Our fuel economy has been better than many folks on this board. Overall we get around 16.5 mpg. That is about 70% city, 30% highway driving. Our highway mileage is 18-19 mpg at an average speed between 70 and 75 mph. Based on our experience, if you drove 60 mph, you'd probably get 20 mpg. At 65, probably 19-19.5. At 70, 18.5-19. At 75, 17.5-18.5. Above 75 mph-- ask paisan, because my wife and I don't drive our Trooper that fast!

    3. A center differential

    4. Towing capacity of 5000 lbs.

    5. A reasonably powerful engine - to me, the 215 hp 3.5L V6 is quite peppy. We don't use the Power transmission mode because I think the truck is peppy enough without it.

    6. A body on frame design with a good ground clearance for driving off road (which I do)

    7. A power rear window which, in combination with a sunroof, creates a quasi-convertible

    8. A small enough body to be maneuverable in tight quarters

    9. Seating for 4/5 - the passenger room is unmatched in anything smaller than the Expedition/Tahoe class, in my opinion. The rear seat is just huge. Many folks who try out the Trooper complain about the seats being too firm, but the smart consumer knows that "too firm" on the test drive often translates into "great support" over the long haul,
    while "nice and soft" translates into "insufficient support."

    Rollover
    I'm a Consumer Reports fan and longtime subscriber. But the Trooper rollover issue is total bunk. It's a truck, it's tall, and it will tip over if you drive it recklessly. It may even tip more easily than a Pathfinder, Blazer, or other shorter wider SUV. But in everyday driving, our stock 98 Troop and our previous 96 Troop feel solid and steady.

    When our 96 was totaled, a Caddy ran a red light, from my left side. As he came through the intersection around 40-45 mph, I was doing 50-55 mph. I hit the brakes and swerved left, trying to cut in behind him and let him squeak through the intersection just in front of the Trooper. Unfortunately, I still hit the guy (98 Seville). But I had made a quick
    swerve at moderately high speed. #1, I wasn't nervous to make this sort of split-second maneuver in the Trooper. #2, in retrospect the vehicle seemed totally fine while doing this. No giant leaning or tippiness.

    As others have noted, you can stiffen up the handling with some easy and cheap sway bar bushing mods. I haven't bothered yet because I don't think the handling in our 98 is a problem.

    If you want the Torque on Demand system, be aware of this: it requires automatic transmission. Also, in the 98 model year, it required the Performance Package. Starting in '99, all auto trans Troopers came standard with TOD (until the 2WD Troopers were rolled out-- in 2000 model year?).

    There are other minor equipment differences from year to year. If these things are important to you, let us know and we'll tell you what was standard, what was optional, and when.
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    If you buy one, and go off-roading, definitely upgrade the shocks. The truck is fairly affordable, so a $250 shock upgrade isn't too bad. It really improves the off-road handling. I put OME's on, could not be more satisfied with their performance so far. Better shocks also reduces some on road annoyances, nose dive in hard braking, reduces pothole thud, keeps it flatter in back to back turns, and more!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    MY98: TOD on S Performance and Luxury w/AT
    MY99: TOD on all AT vehicles
    MY00: TOD on all AT vehicles w/4wd, also added grade logic on ATs
    MY01: TOD on all AT vehicles w/4wd, also added grade logic on ATs
    MY02: TOD on all AT vehicles w/4wd except "S" models, also added grade logic on ATs

    -mike
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    I checked out my MDX manual last night. It is very interesting regarding the rear differential. It says to avoid spinning the front wheels if ever stuck (obviously there isn't a true 50/50 split because the fronts seem to get the lion share of power) because you can damage the VTM system. It also says that never get towed by anything other than a flatbed, having 2 wheels turning without the others will damge the 4wd system. So maybe its true AWD with the fronts and the rears never really being disengaged?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    at 19mph it cuts the rears out completely unless there is slippage on the MDX. Also on a side note, make sure to read the maintenance interval for those 3 diffys I believe it is something like every 8K miles!

    All cars that are in the "awd" class carry the "do not tow with 2 wheels on the ground" warning.

    -mike
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Yes the differentials is something like 8K, however the oil change interval is 7500. So I will be saving $60 on oil changes to cover the $100 differential fluids. oh well.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That is what all cars post like '95 recommend for oil changes. Even our troopers have a 7500mile oil change interval IIRC, maybe 5K.

    $100 for the diffys is not bad! Figured they'd be like $80/each.

    -mike
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm having an Installfest at my place May 4th! And just recently bought an electric impact wrench from sears! :)

    -mike
  • bstone3bstone3 Posts: 97
    Before we bought our 2001 Trooper LS TOD I too looked at 4 Runners - test drove a bunch of them and almost bought - but what always stopped me was its size - I had owned three Tahoes before. Then I drove the dreaded roll-me-over Tropper - what a shock - this thing is nice - its:
    - bigger volume - and green house affect - sun roof heaven`
    - has 4 whell disc brakes - no rear drums here
    - rear seat backs recline
    - if you flip the rear seats forward to make more storage room you don't have to remove the head rests
    - bigger engine 210 hp vs 186
    - better seats - front seats have just the right amount of side bolster - not too much
    - powered driver and front passenger seats
    - heated seats - heated mirrors
    - 6 disc in dash stereo - good sounding too
    - 10 yr/120 kmile warranty
    - $8K discount off of MRP
    - and almost forgot - the blimmy thing down shifts automatically when going down hill

    - what it don't have is a luggage rack - but you can add one
    - cup holders suck but they work for most occassions
    - no transmission dip stick - I don't like this - I lost a transmission once that blew out fluid.
    - stick on some gas shocks and the poly sway bar bushings and the thing handles like a gem.

    and best of all - you will never see a 2003 Trooper - you will be styling forever.

    Get the Trooper - be one of the guys on this board
  • boxtrooperboxtrooper Posts: 843
    I think the Trooper is 80% good as new after only 120K miles. It will still be rattle free and perform as new. So unless you need to change to a different type of vehicle, save your money and put in the next timing belt, a new set of tires, and take it to a body shop for a new car prep. New car prep $125 to $200 is a really nice way for your Trooper to feel new again. Do the new car prep right before you go shopping for a new car, you will end up keeping your Trooper. Or do ther new car prep as a pre-sale value adder then get $8000 for that almost new 120K mile Trooper
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    mine? I was going to have it done at a shop I like down here. I have heard springs can be real dangerous if you make a mistake. As far as timing I am not sure. I still have to order the springs. I am looking at maybe early June.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The springs are probably the easiest part of it. I heard the hardest part is getting the front shocks off if you are doing them. Otherwise you lift the rear, unbolt the shocks from the rear one at a time let the axle fall and the springs just fall out. put the new ones in, drop the truck, bolt on the shock, repeat on other side.

    Although a shop would probably install it pretty cheap for yah.

    -mike
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    Springs and tires this year.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Cool, go for the OME springs and 275-70-16 Pirellis! :) Not that I'm biased or anything. hee hee

    I'm gonna get an ARB for mine eventually, but probably going to buy an SVX first.

    -mike
  • seanreidseanreid Posts: 152
    Wow, thanks for the thorough responses bluedevils, paisan and others. The Trooper would be my personal car and also serve as a backup chase vehicle on the motorcycle tours (pavement) that I run for a living. (Our primary chase vehicle is a one-ton conversion van). So the Trooper would sometimes carry luggage and tow 1000-2600 lbs. and sometimes (in the evenings) taxi people to and from restaurants. For that latter job, I'm intrigued by the idea of getting my hands on those (non-USA spec) folding third row seats. Two or three smaller ladies could certainly fit there for a short drive to a restaurant.

    The 2003 4Runner is likely to also fit my needs to a tee (taller greenhouse, more space, third row seat, etc.) but it won't be out until September and I'd like to get something sooner.
    I wonder if I shouldn't just find a Trooper for $15,000 and drive it all summer. Then in September I could keep it or go for the new Runner. Maybe I'll join the gang that's fallen in love with these Troopers and then will drive it into the ground at 250,000 miles. I do also like the character the vehicle has, it's definitely a bit out of the mainstream and I enjoy cars and bikes that have a personality. Looks like a 1998 or 1999 would be my best bet (gotta have that giant sunroof).

    Thanks
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'd try to get an 00 or newer just because you get the cool auto-temp climate control, grade-logic tranny, and drive-by-wire system.

    You probably can find an 00 for around 15K if you look hard. Definitely keep us in the loop!

    -mike
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    As my buddy says "The moonroof for the Husky Man!"

    -mike
  • seanreidseanreid Posts: 152
    I suppose it's time to put the 1998 RAV-4L up for sale and go a Trooper huntin'. I'm inclined to just get one and see how it goes. All the time I was driving it yesterday, I kept saying to myself "What a cool truck...".

    And that sunroof....heck, a year ago I even thought about getting a Jeep Wrangler (which is not in the running) just to have a 4WD convertible. A massive sunroof is a good substitute.

    Cheers,

    Sean
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Drive a Trooper for a week, and you'll never drive anything else. I think that is pretty accurite. I know I'm hooked.

    -mike
  • I have been a Trooper man since 1986!!! We bought our first Trooper in 86 and then traded it in for an Amigo when we hit 120,000 miles. I had the Amigo until 1994 and traded it in for a Trooper. The Amigo had 106,000 miles on it and I traded it in because it had been broken into three times (damn soft tops). The 94 Trooper was an incredible vehicle. It went everywhere and anywhere. I sold the 94 for a 2000 S model in 2000. The 94 Trooper had 165,000 miles on it and still ran like it did the day I picked it up. Hell I thought I was going to cry when I sold it. I have almost 50K on the 2000 Trooper now and once again the vehicle continues to impress me.

    Go with the Trooper. You definately won't regret it!!!
  • beer47beer47 Posts: 185
    Paisan,

    What brand/model of shock would you reccommend for someone who does NYC/Philly driving with alot of interstate thrown in? I do not off-road but I do pile up the miles.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Posts: 2,554
    as paisan says, you can probably find a 2000 Trooper for those $$. However, it likely won't have the moonroof. If you want a loaded Limited model, you could probably find a 98 or 99 with fairly low miles for $15k.

    Personally, the improvements in the 2000+ Troopers aren't extremely important to me, so I'd say anything from '98 and up would be fine.

    Beware that factory moonroof-equipped Troopers don't grow on trees. My sense is that Isuzu sells far more base S models than LS (aka Performance Package in earlier editions) or Limited (aka Luxury Package) models, and the factory moonroof isn't available on the plain S models.

    For a 3rd row seat, try www.littlepassengerseats.com. This is a more readily available, though less functional, alternative to the non-U.S. factory third row seat.
  • sbcookesbcooke Posts: 2,297
    There was an article in the WSJ today about the european community possibly barring bull bars. You never know...if it crosses the atlantic you may be out...better hurry :-)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    ARB: This isn't the socialist states of Europe! Hee hee, they'd have an easier time hiking taxes than elminating bars, everyone has em here right down to the senators! :)

    3rd row for Sean: He needs to carry luggage and just needs the 3rd row to run workers to dinner/hotel etc. So my guess is that he'd really want the fold-up OEM ones. I really need to look into this deeper and see if we can procure some from outside the US.

    shocks for Beer: I live in NYC and love my Rancho 9000s. I feel they are well worth it even if you don't off-road. 99% of my driving is on-road and I keep them dialed in @ 4 in the front and 3 in the rear out of 5+ settings. When my dad drives it I crank it down to about 3f 2r and this gives it a nice smooth ride. For towing I do 4/5+ and offroading 5+/5+ If it was going to be 100% on-road I'd probably go for the very expensive Bilstiens but not sure if they are worth the extra $$$$. The Ranchos are buy 3 get one free right now I think.

    -mike
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    It's nice to know that NBC and GM have kissed and made up after the NBC fireworks display. I guess this means I can finally end my boycott of NBC.

    Can anyone tell me if Huntley and Brinkley are still together? ;-)

    tidester
    Host
    SUVs
  • gtroopgtroop Posts: 85
    I have found a place in Australia that can sell me everything for AU$770 plus shipping. Catch is I need someone on the ground there to do the foot work and the shipping...
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