What's New for 1997
Cruise control is added to the S model's standard equipment list, and four new colors are available.
For several years, Honda has been purchasing Rodeo sport utilities from Isuzu, and rebadging them as the Honda Passport. Honda dealers were clamoring for an SUV, and rather than wait for engineers to develop a new model from scratch, the company forged a relationship with Isuzu. Starting last year, Honda also began selling an upscale version of the Isuzu Trooper as the Acura SLX, to capitalize on the booming luxury-SUV market.
To reciprocate the favor, Honda allows Isuzu to rebadge a Japanese-market sedan for sale across the Pacific, and has donated the slow-selling Odyssey minivan to fill a niche in Isuzu's U.S. lineup. The Oasis has a different grille, different wheels, and an Isuzu-embossed steering wheel center hub.
The Oasis is actually a better deal than the Odyssey, mainly because Isuzu offers a more comprehensive warranty, and the few options available are priced by the factory, not individual dealers, which reduces the dealer's ability to rip off the consumer. Powered by a strong 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and featuring four conventional doors, the Oasis scores well in government crash tests, and offers side-impact protection that meets 1998 passenger car standards. Antilock brakes are standard equipment.
The Oasis S can accommodate up to seven passengers, but LS models have center row captain's chairs which reduces capacity to six. The third-row bench seat folds forward, flips backwards for tailgate parties, or folds away into the floor to create a flat load floor. With seats removed and folded, the LS model can hold up to 102.5 cubic feet of cargo.
Despite the distinct lack of V-6 power, we think the Oasis offers solid value as a family wagon. It's roomy, attractive, and well-equipped. Best of all, prices are in line with the new Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable station wagons, as well as the Volkswagen Passat Wagon. Oasis offers more versatility and cargo capacity than any of these competitors, an excellent warranty, and proven Honda mechanicals. What's not to like?