2006 Isuzu Ascender SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Isuzu Ascender SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Isuzu Ascender Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.2 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 277 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 14/19 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Isuzu Ascender

  • In addition to strong drivetrains and a roomy interior, the 2006 Isuzu Ascender comes with a generous warranty, which makes it worth considering over its nearly identical Chevrolet and GMC cousins.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Strong six- and eight-cylinder engines, simple interior design, plenty of passenger and cargo room, long warranty.

  • Cons

    Spongy suspension, numb steering, low-grade interior materials, odd exterior proportions, poor expected resale value.

  • What's New for 2006

    For 2006, minor package revisions and stability control highlight the changes for the Isuzu SUV.

Full 2006 Isuzu Ascender Review

What's New for 2006

For 2006, minor package revisions and stability control highlight the changes for the Isuzu SUV.


As automakers go, Isuzu has been in a deep rut. A lack of money for both new product investment and marketing has forced Isuzu to rely heavily on its partnership with GM. Both of the company's 2006 product offerings, the i-Series pickup and the Ascender SUV, are derived from existing GM products.

The Isuzu Ascender is very similar mechanically to the GMC Envoy. It comes in two lengths, with seating for up to seven passengers, many standard features and optional V8 power. Compared to the Envoy, the Ascender has slightly different styling, including a different front grille, restyled front and rear bumpers, special headlights and taillights and different 17-inch wheels. The five-passenger model is equivalent to the regular Envoy, while the seven-passenger model is modeled on the Envoy XL. To achieve its seven-person capacity, the extended-length Isuzu Ascender offers a third-row seat that, according to Isuzu, can comfortably accommodate two 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound adult males. Fold the second- and third-row seats flat, and the bigger Ascender really shows its advantage, offering up to 100 cubic feet of cargo space -- that's almost 20 cubic feet more than a seven-passenger Explorer.

The 2006 Isuzu Ascender certainly one-ups the competition when it comes to seven-passenger comfort and overall cargo capacity. Combined with the powerful engines, it makes quite a case for itself in this hard-fought segment. In most areas, the Isuzu SUV matches up favorably. But as it's pretty much the same truck as the Envoy, we suggest comparison shopping between these vehicles, paying particular attention to final price and warranties. Also bear in mind that given Isuzu's uncertain future, resale value is likely to be lower on the Ascender.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The midsize, four-door Isuzu Ascender SUV comes in five-passenger and seven-passenger versions, each of which is available in one basic S trim level with several upgrade packages: Preferred, LS, Luxury and Limited. Two-wheel-drive S models include standard features such as power windows and locks, and dual-zone manual climate control with rear-seat climate controls. Select the Preferred Equipment Package to pick up a power driver seat, keyless entry and cruise control, or order a four-wheel-drive S model to get them standard. Midgrade LS package models get all of the above, plus 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and an in-dash CD changer. The Luxury package includes monochromatic paint, leather seating, Bose audio and heated seats. The Limited includes upgraded exterior mirrors, automatic wipers, a power passenger seat, power-adjustable pedals and driver seat memory.

Powertrains and Performance

A 4.2-liter inline six rated at 275 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque is standard on all Ascenders. This engine can outmuscle many of its competitors' V8s, let alone their V6 offerings. Optional on the seven-passenger Isuzu Ascender is a 5.3-liter V8. It generates 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque and includes Displacement-on-Demand technology, which saves fuel by using only half of the engine's cylinders while cruising. Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission, and both two- and four-wheel-drive configurations are available. With the V8, the Isuzu SUV can tow up to 7,100 pounds.


All Ascender models come with four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control. Side curtain airbags are optional. Government crash tests of the Ascender's five-passenger Envoy twin yielded three out of five stars for frontal-impact protection and a perfect five stars for side impacts (when equipped with side airbags). The IIHS rated the SUV "Marginal" (the second lowest of four) in frontal-offset crash testing.

Interior Design and Special Features

The five-passenger Isuzu Ascender should appeal to smaller families who don't need a full three rows of seating. Interior materials and detailing are similar to those of the Envoy, which is to say below average, though the Limited trim adds leather and wood trim. Should you need to haul stuff, the seven-passenger Ascender has 22.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third-row seat. With the second- and third-row seats lowered, it has 100 cubic feet of capacity, considerably more than most midsize SUVs.

Driving Impressions

The standard 4.2-liter engine is impressive enough on its own, so there's no going wrong with either of the Isuzu's engine options. Unfortunately, numb steering and an overly soft state of suspension tune make the 2006 Isuzu Ascender feel ponderous during hard cornering. Less enthusiastic driving generates a smooth, comfortable ride.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 7-Passenger 4dr SUV 4WD (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

We purchased our 2006 Ascender brand new. Granted the body is great. I was hit by a large work van which in a car would of sent me to the hospital, the truck held up well. The engine is a nightmare. We just paid it off and it has less than 115,000 miles on it but the engine has died completely. I am very upset since it was purchased new and well taken care of.. I will never buy another one again.. I will only purchase Honda or Toyota from now on.

High maintenance

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 7-Passenger 4dr SUV 4WD (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

Great looking and a great ride, but very poor mpg on highway 15. Also, at 70,000 mi it fell apart, new water pump, new alternator, stabler track problems, fuel gauge problems, window on passengers side leaks and exhaust leak. Not to mention normal maintenance of breaks and belts. Low initial price, but they make up for it later down the road on repair costs.

Real suv no crossover!

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 7-Passenger 4dr SUV 4WD (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

If you want a real SUV this a great car. The mileage is not great but it is a big SUV . Brakes are a problem on this SUV . The heat builds up and takes out the rotors. Put the better rotors on it.

Bargain for a solid suv

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 5-Passenger 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

A solidly built SUV at a great price is good choice for anyone who wants a basic utility vehicle. The engine is great, with lots of power and good gas mileage. Speaking of gas mileage, remember, if you live in a cold climate and have a lead foot, every SUV will eat gas, but GM's powerful engine lets you use a light foot and still get sufficient power. I average 19 mpg in everyday driving, 21 on the highway as long as you keep it below 80. That's probably as good as real-world results for most crossovers. So if what you want is a car that has more room, get a crossover. If you like to haul, tow and drive on dirt, these GMs are good choices, and the Isuzu has the best warranty (pre 2007).

My truck

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 7-Passenger 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

I love this truck. I drove from Virginia to California and it was the most comfortable ride I have ever had. Even with towing a U-haul trailer this truck had no problems going up the mountain and was so easy to handle. I am a person who trades vehicles in every 2 years, I believe I will have this truck for a lot longer.

Poor quality, not worth the

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Isuzu Ascender S 5-Passenger 4dr SUV 4WD (4.2L 6cyl 4A)

I have only had my Ascender for 4 months now and I have been back to the dealership 6 times. Driving lamps 3 times, rear seatbelt 3 times, transmission 4 times and body molding 2 times. Transmission shifts hard on long trips. Driving lights keep fogging up. The front bumper moves up and down while driving. Center console wiggles by just putting your arm on it.

Talk About The 2006 Ascender

2006 Isuzu Ascender Discussions See all Started By

Hello...I am new to this group. I am a devoted Isuzu owner who currently owns a 2007 Ascender, 2006 I-350 and a 1999 Amigo....

will be no serious effort to market the GM made Ascender through the 2005 and 2006 model years, after which Isuzu's contract to sell that vehicle will end. Isuzu plans to introduce at least two compl...

I just scanned all 11 pages of this message board and took in quite a bit of information regarding the Ascender and the demise of the Trooper (I think my eyes are bugging out now). You guys seemed to ...

Gas Mileage


  • 14
  • cty
  • 19
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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