Used 1997 Isuzu Trooper Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Antilock brakes are now standard on all models, and dealers get a wider profit margin to help increase sales. Despite delirious requests by a certain consumer group, Isuzu will not equip the Trooper with training wheels for 1997.

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. For 1997, all Troopers get four-wheel antilock brakes. 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 with the manual transmission, and rear seat passengers enjoy as much rear leg room as found in a Mercedes S500 sedan.

A 3.2-liter, 24-valve V6 powers all Troopers, pumping out 190 horsepower. Three trim levels are available: S, LS, and Limited. 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, alloy wheels, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat). Add running boards and remote keyless entry, and you've got a comfortable, luxurious $31,000 cruiser that you won't be afraid to take off-roading.

Many of you may have heard a rumor that the Trooper is dangerous, prone to going around corners on two wheels at moderate speeds. Forget it. Government agencies and private test facilities have debunked the myth. The Trooper is no more tippy than any other sport/utility vehicle on the market. However, keep the following in mind; any vehicle with a short wheelbase and a high center of gravity requires care when cornering or traversing rough terrain. The rules of physics necessarily dictate that such a vehicle is more prone to tipping than a longer wheelbase car or truck with a lower center of gravity, as we discovered during an off-road jaunt in a Nissan Pathfinder last summer.

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 driving 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.