Used 1996 Isuzu Trooper Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

More standard equipment, a horsepower boost for the SOHC V6 engine, and standard shift-on-the-fly debut for 1996.

Vehicle overview

Just more than a decade ago, Isuzu introduced the first Trooper. It was a tough truck, sturdy and boxy in style, with two doors and a sparse interior. Powered by a four-cylinder engine, the original Trooper wasn't prepped to win any drag races, but the truck won fans for its off-road prowess and exceptional reliability. Soon, four-door models joined the lineup, and a GM-sourced V6 engine became available. As the sport-utility market grew, luxury amenities were added to the Trooper, but by the early nineties, it was apparent that Isuzu needed to redesign the Trooper so that it could remain competitive against steadily improving competitors.

The Rodeo claimed the entry-level slot for Isuzu in 1991, so the Trooper was moved upscale in 1992. Since then, continual refinements have given the Trooper one of the best blends of style, comfort and utility in the class. Dual airbags are standard equipment, and four-wheel antilock brakes are available on all Troopers. Fold the rear seats, and a Trooper can carry 90 cubic feet of cargo, ten more than rival Ford Explorer. Ground clearance measures an impressive 8.5 inches, and rear seat passengers enjoy as much rear legroom as found in a Mercedes S500 sedan.

A 3.2-liter, 24-valve V6 powers all Troopers, pumping out 190 horsepower for 1996. Four trim levels are available: S, LS, Limited and new SE. SE models, according to the 1996 Isuzu press kit, represent "the epitome of the automotive term loaded'...(designed) to appeal to the most discerning of Trooper owners." SE models will be introduced mid-1996, and will be painted Moderate Blue Mica and Light Silver. Prices will start at about $40,000.

We think you'd be better off with either the S or the LS. The S model is our favorite, when equipped with alloy wheels and a preferred equipment package which includes air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, premium sound, cruise and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. Add running boards, keyless entry, ABS and overfenders, and you've got a comfortable, luxurious $30,000 cruiser that you won't be afraid to take off-roading, for about the same price as a loaded Rodeo.

The Trooper has always been one of our favorites, because it has loads of personality and ability. What it doesn't offer is value. As an alternative to the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Explorer XLT and Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, the expensive Trooper makes little sense for most suburbanites whose idea of off-road is the dirt parking lot at the sweet corn stand. Buyers in this category might want to investigate the Rodeo. As an alternative to more expensive and competent SUV's, like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Discovery, the Trooper makes perfect sense.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.