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Like most Isuzu SUVs, the Axiom is a middle-of-the-road effort, amounting to little more than a rehashed Rodeo wearing nice duds and a Halloween mask for effect.
Strong V6, distinctive styling, unique features.
Limited drivetrain choices, old tech underpinnings.
Available Axiom SUV Models
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Debuting this year as Isuzu's fifth sport-ute model, the Axiom attempts to blend the rugged nature of a sport-utility with the style and driving dynamics of a sedan. It features a retuned version of the Trooper's 3.5-liter V6, Isuzu's Torque On Demand (TOD) four-wheel-drive system, an Integrated Monitor System (IMS) that controls both the climate control and audio systems and a trick trip computer synchronized with the U.S. Atomic clock.
With bold styling and numerous gee-whiz gadgets, Isuzu's all-new Axiom is attempting to snare buyers who like the idea of a tough, versatile SUV, but don't particularly desire the ill handling or boxy styling of most sky-high sport-utes.
Underneath, the Axiom is essentially the same as its Rodeo brother, employing a body-on-frame architecture typical of most truck-based SUVs. Unequal-length control arms and torsion bars make up the front suspension, while coil springs and a five-link system locate the solid rear axle. Isuzu's Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) is standard, using multiple sensors and a dedicated CPU to constantly monitor and adjust the shock settings for either a sport-oriented ride, or a softer, more comfortable feel depending on the driver's selection via a dashboard-mounted switch.
The Axiom is powered by a retuned version of the 3.5-liter V6 engine found in the larger Trooper, producing 230 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 230 foot-pounds at 3,000 rpm. With a couple hundred less pounds to haul around than its bigger brother, the Axiom should move somewhat more quickly than the lumbering Trooper. An electronically controlled four-speed overdrive automatic that features both power and winter modes is the only transmission available. Four-wheel-drive models get the Torque-On-Demand four wheel drive system that attempts to "predict" slippage by actively monitoring the wheels, brakes and throttle. It then transfers power to the wheels with the most traction for maximum control.
The interior of the Axiom is highlighted by two-tone trim and the centrally mounted Integrated Monitor System (IMS). It handles all of the climate controls as well as the premium sound system and the atomically correct digital clock. The idea was too reduce knob and button clutter, and the futuristic-looking console certainly is different, but sharp eyes will notice that the interior is still very similar to the Rodeo's. Cargo capacity inside is a very respectable 85.4 cu. ft, besting just about every midsize SUV on the market other than the Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer.
There are only two trim levels for the Axiom: base and XS. Base models include almost every available feature including 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, automatic climate control, dual front airbags, four-way power adjustable driver seat and a six-disc CD changer. XS models add leather/heated seats, leather door inserts, a power adjustable passenger seat and a power tilt moonroof.
Despite the unique gadgets, the Axiom's biggest selling point is still its distinctive styling. Whether or not that will be enough to sway buyers away from traditional SUVs remains to be seen, but knowing the fashion-conscious tendencies of the typical SUV buyer, the Axiom has a fighting chance.
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