Isuzu Ascender

By Don Rush
First, a thought from the wrong side of the road . . . with all automakers world-wide now selling their products in each other’s territory, there must be a ‘rush? to come up with just the right name for each new product.
A company has to come up with a fresh name that describes their product not only in the native tongue, but also in other languages. It cannot be offensive, funny or copyrighted. It’s not like the old days when the Big Three handled all things falling in the jurisdiction of the Monroe Doctrine (save for a few luxury cars); Japanese took care of the Asian market, and the Europeans fought among themselves.
That said, Isuzu is fast becoming a recognized brand with the Ascender name. New in 2004, Isuzu introduced a five-passenger version of their popular Ascender SUV line (the original seven-seater is a scant 888 pounds heavier).
The Ascender-5 is a good family vehicle. I state this flatly, ‘cuz it passed the ‘buckle-up? test. In this test, booster seats for our six- and four-year-old sons were securely fastened to the vehicle. It was a snap. You may consider this a small thing, but you’d be surprised at the difficulty we have had in trying to buckle the lads into different vehicles. I’d go as far as to say, at times it is harder than getting a federal judge appointed.
When I test drove the Ascender-5, it was the end of winter. Warm weather was trying to push in from the south. With nature waking up from its winter’s sleep, driving area back roads, with all the hills, dips and curves was getting fun again.
My first foray with the Ascender-5 was Clarkston Road. And, on that little section of winding stretch around Walter’s Lake, between Eston and Clintonville roads, I thought the Ascender ‘swayed? a little more than I like. I give this initial negative report because that first experience was trumped by my last experience with the Ascender-5.
On the morning I was to turn in the Ascender-5, I was traveling Oakwood Road in Brandon Township. I was heading to Oxford by the old Tucker Farm property (between Leece and State roads) at the posted speed limit — well, I believe 45 miles per hour is the speed limit there, because that is how fast I was driving.
I was humming along, when out from behind a gray garbage can on the east side of a road, a nice looking male Phasianus Colchicus came a-trottin?. In English, a Ring-Necked pheasant darted out in front of me. What followed was an impromptu road maneuverability test.
As it was not yet 8 in the morning, the roads were kinda slick. Upon spotting said fowl, my catlike reflexes kicked in. I swerved to the left and then swerved to the right. In a fleeting moment the Ascender-5 showed it had an agility I did not think it possessed. Both the bird and I survived, unscathed. The Ascender-5 responded nice and tight and saved a situation that could have ruined my whole day.
The Ascender-5 I test drove was of the four-wheel-drive variety. It also comes with just rear-wheel drive action. The SUV is powered by a 4.2 liter, in-line six-cylinder engine. The engine was powerful enough to propel the 4,612 pound vehicle and, according to the sticker, get between 15-21 miles per gallon of gas.
The Ascender-5’s wheel base is 113 inches, which I felt allowed a tight turning radius. As a typical American who has a love affair with McDonald’s hamburgers and fries, I still had plenty of room. I was comfortable.
All tricked-out, the four-wheel drive Ascender-5 runs $34,127. The bottom price is $27,849. The rear-wheel version starts at $25,849. For more information go to