In the 90s at the dawn of the SUV takeover, truck-based people haulers were trying to move upscale while still retaining their off-road cred. Also, Isuzu still existed as a purveyor of passenger vehicles. Their entry into the segment was the second-generation Trooper (or Bighorn, Jackaroo, Horizon, or Monterey depending on which country you lived in).
Isuzu’s all-new second-gen Trooper replaced the ancient first-gen after a 10-year run. Central to the revamp was an Isuzu-designed V6 (the first-gen was offered with a GM V6), displacing 3.2 liters and generating 175 horsepower and 199 with single cams, or 190 horsepower and the same amount of lb-ft in twin-cam setup.
In a Motorweek review of the 1992 model, the Trooper gets praise for trick features like auto-locking hubs and split barn doors accessing the cargo area. However, it gets docked points for lack of a shift-on-the-fly 4WD mode and some questionable interior ergonomics. Namely, some of the switches are hard to see and the optional CD player is separated from the head unit by the climate controls. The staff, though, shows their refined tastes by tuning the stereo to WHFS, which happens to be playing some Siouxsie Sioux during the filming.
Famously, the Trooper — and its Acura SLX badge bro — were marked for death by Consumer Reports‘ “Not Acceptable” rating for its tendency to roll over during hard cornering. The debacle resulted in a lawsuit by Isuzu. The jury was split, and some jurors found some of Consumer Reports‘ 17 statements to be false, but it wasn’t enough for the court to award Isuzu any damages, and the company claims that altogether it cost them $244 million. For the record, Motorweek keeps the Trooper on all four wheels during their slalom test.
A base Trooper S model started at $18,800, which is about $1,000 more than a base Mitsubishi Montero of the era, but nearly $7,000 cheaper than a contemporary Toyota Land Cruiser. An LS model rang in at $24,250. That made the Trooper a pretty good deal, though one could argue that their long-term durability didn’t match that of the bulletproof Toyotas.
These days, whereas good-condition Land Cruisers are selling for practically what they cost when new, Troopers can be had for a couple thousand bucks. That makes them cheap enough for some pretty mad engine swaps.
A story you might enjoy- Some of my earliest car memories are of my dads white Isuzu trooper. 99% sure it was a first gen. I remember it being pretty agricultural. This was the early 90s but also rural NZ so things took a while to trickle through back then. Anyway one night my dad was driving home from work and fell asleep at the wheel. ( He used to work late) He crashed into a telephone pole and the power lines fell on his car. However fortuitously when the fire brigade showed up (I imagine some hours latter) they found him still asleep in the car… They said if he had gotten out he would have been electrocuted. Needless to say this was a bit of an event and he took a fair bit of rubbing from his work mates including them making a giant inflatable pillow and strapping it to the front of his trooper as a joke.
In Europe the 2nd gen was sold as Opel Monterey.
We moved to the mountains in 1987 and purchased a 85 Trooper. It was a great vehicle -dependable in any condition. Shovel feet of snow off it and go. It did teach patience as it was a 4-cylinder and I was once passed on a long uphill grade by a vw van. As far as stability, I had experience with this on tight turns on mountain roads- even dodging deer and other animals and never came close to rolling it. On the way home one late afternoon, I allowed the Trooper’s front wheel to touch the snow berm and the next thing I remember was suddenly going off-road up the side of the hill. I was traveling at around 55 and I jerked the wheel back downhill and stopped just a few feet from the highway sitting at about a 35 degree angle on three wheels. I climbed up and out the side window and waited for a tow after telling a neighbor who stopped to let my wife know that I’d be a little late.Never did that again but it stayed with us for many years.
In Argentina I am finding more isuzu of the 90 ‘that Toyota of the same was in better conditions. and those who have an Isuzu do not want to sell it. The same situation of being with prices outside the market and cheaper than the Toyota of the same time.
Uhhhhhh, are you guys gonna post this one???
Barn finds of Japanese nostalgic cars sound interesting?
Hello. And Bye.