The Isuzu Trooper is a mid-size SUV produced by the Japanese automaker Isuzu between 1981 and 2002. It was exported worldwide as the Isuzu Bighorn, Subaru Bighorn, Isuzu Trooper, Honda Horizon, Acura SLX, Chevrolet Trooper, Opel/Vauxhall Monterey, Holden Jackaroo and Holden Monterey. It was a huge seller in the sport utility vehicle segment.
There were two generations of the Trooper produced – the first spanning 1981 through 1991, and the second from 1992 through 2002 when Isuzu ceased export of the model. It began its production run being somewhat primitive and underpowered, offered only with a 4 cylinder motor, standard 5 speed manual transmission, and part-time four-wheel drive system. As the first generation progressed, it became more luxurious, and offered more amenities, including a V6 engine. The second generation was more refined, and was available with two-wheel drive.
The Opel Monterey was a Japanese-built four-wheel drive Sports Utility Vehicle produced by General Motors. It was visually identical to the Isuzu trooper, but was only sold in Europe. Production began in 1994, with versions sold on Mainland Europe wearing Opel badges, and the British version being sold as a Vauxhall. Sales in Britain were disappointing, and the Vauxhall version of the car was withdrawn from sale at the end of 1998, though the Opel version continued to sell on the continent until 2002.
The first generation Trooper was available as a 2 or 4 door, with a solid rear axle and the front featuring independent suspension. Early engines included 2.0L 1.9L and a 2.2L diesel which many consider underpowered for the vehicle's weight—about 3,700lb (1,678.3kg) empty. The four-wheel drive system required the driver to engage the front axle by operating a three-position shifter adjacent to the regular transmission shifter. Both Aisin manual-locking and Isuzu's own auto-locking hubs were available. In 1986, Isuzu introduced a 2.3L engine, which, though only 112hp (102kW), was a vast improvement over the previous engines. In 1987 Isuzu introduced its first fuel-injected engine,(v tech injection) a 2.6L (4ZE1), for the Trooper. Some U.S. models were equipped with a GM 2.8L V6 engine (same powerplant found in the Chevrolet S10 pickup. Manual transmission equipped models had a gear driven transfer case with a 2.28:1 low range ratio, models equipped with the 2.6L four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission had a 2.66:1 low range transfer case. As foreign SUVs gained market share, tariffs were introduced, and Isuzu for a time imported a model known as the Trooper II. In a bit of a creative loophole jumping, Isuzu avoided the tariffs by having the dealers install the rear seats. Later first-generation models included an option for a four-speed automatic transmission, a V6 engine sourced from General Motors (their 2.8L pushrod V6), and a combination of 31"x10.5" tires with 4.77:1 differential gears. Standard differential gearing for all 1981-1991 Isuzu Trooper is 4.555:1. Models from 1988-1991 are equipped with Isuzu 10-bolt 17-spline front IFS differentials and Isuzu 12-bolt live rear axles with 4-wheel disc brakes. Also new for 1987 were new rectangular headlights, a departure from the earlier round sealed-beam type lights. A clutch-type limited slip rear differential was available as an option, indicated by the code "G80" on the vehicle's option plate under the hood. Overseas model engines not released in the United States included the Isuzu 4JB1 and 4JB1-T engines, (2.8L diesel inline four-cylinder engines, the "-T" indicating a turbocharged version).
In 1989 only, a short wheelbase (90") Isuzu Trooper was imported to the US market as the Trooper. All of these short wheelbase Troopers were equipped with 2.6L fuel injected 4cyl engines, 4.77:1 differential gears and 31"x10.5 tires mounted on 15"x7" aluminium alloy "snowflake" pattern wheels. Automatic and manual transmissions were offered.
Further history of the first generation of Isuzu Trooper started in Central America, where smaller versions were made with removable roofs and a higher wheel clearance. Powertrain options included the Isuzu 2.9L turbo diesel, a medium-RPM, slightly modified engine that was also used for portable freezer boxes, generators and lifeboats.
Isuzu's completely redesigned Trooper, introduced in 1991 in Japan, was bigger than the old ones at 5510pounds and was in keeping with the trend of making SUVs larger, more powerful, and more luxurious. These vehicles used a 3.2L single overhead cam (SOHC) model that put out 175hp (130kW), with an available 3.2L dual overhead cam (DOHC) engine rated at 190hp (142kW). A SOHC 3.2L engine producing 190hp (142kW) was introduced in 1996, replacing the prior engines. Most models, with the exclusion of the 1996 SE Limited, still used a part-time four-wheel drive system, which required stopping the vehicle to engage and disengage the front axle. The 1996 SE Limited model came with shift on the fly engagement. Models after 1996 included the same shift on the fly arrangement.
From 1992, the UBS Series ("Holden Jackaroo", as it is known in Australia) was available with a pushrod overhead valve (OHV) 3.1L intercooled turbodiesel (designated 4JG2) producing 84Kw (113hp) at 3600rpm, and 260Nm (192ft·lbf) at 2000rpm. It was offered as an alternative to the 3.2L petrol, as a more rugged and fuel-efficient option for towing and heavy-duty operation. The diesel-powered Jackaroo was only available with a five-speed manual transmission and Aisin manually locking front hubs. This turbodiesel engine has established a reputation for excellent reliability and durability. The same engine was also available in the U.K. and other markets with a toothed rubber belt-driven overhead camshaft, which developed slightly more power. After 1998, and the introduction of the 4JX1 3.0L diesel engine, a four-speed automatic transmission was made available in addition to the five speed manual transmission. RFH.
During this period, Isuzu and Honda had an agreement on working together in complimentary product areas. Honda sold a rebadged Trooper in Japan from 1994-1999, as the Honda Horizon, and in the United States from 1996-1999, as the Acura SLX. It has been rumoured that Honda assisted development in this generation of Trooper.
Beginning in 1998, Troopers in the US were equipped with a DOHC 3.5 L engine producing 215hp (160kW). European and Asian buyers could opt for a 4.0L diesel, and other diesel engine options appeared later on, including the 4JG2 3.1L (later superseded by the more problematic 4JX1 3.0L). At this time, the introduction of the Borg-Warner Torque on Demand system provided an All Wheel Drive setting. Freshened styling also debuted at this time, and the grille was redesigned again for the 2000 model year.
Transmission options included a five-speed manual transmission, and an electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The automatic had a "power" shift program wherein shift points were moved higher in the RPM band to take better advantage of the engine's power. It also had a "winter" mode, which allowed the transmission to start off in third gear for added stability in slippery conditions. This 4-speed automatic is called the 4L30E, and is manufactured by GM Powertrain in Strasbourg, France. 2000 to 2002 Trooper included a feature called "Grade Logic" which allowed the transmission to automatically downshift on steep grades in order to slow the vehicle down.
The suspension consisted of a fully independent front suspension, and a multilink rear suspension to handle the solid rear axle.
The Trooper LS and S models contained 117.8cubic feet (3.34m3) of cargo space, while Limited models contained only 112.3.
In Europe and the UK, 7 seat and 3-door versions were offered, however US-spec Troopers came only in the 5-door, 5 seat models. Seating for 7 was also offered on the Opel/Vauxhall Monterey version.
Optional on all models was a rear limited slip differential. While skid plates protecting the fuel tank, transfer case and radiator, and, on four-wheel drive models, automatic locking front hubs, were standard features (until shift on the fly was introduced, at which point hub flanges were used). 1988 through 1991 Trooper with the 2.6l 4ZE1 engine and automatic transmission received manual locking hubs.
In model year 2003, the Trooper was discontinued in the United States in favor of the smaller Axiom and the larger GM-produced Isuzu Ascender, a re-badged GMC Envoy.
The Isuzu Trooper was sold in the Philippines until model year 2005. Known as the Skyroof Edition with a rear wheel drive configuration, billet type radiator grille,and the largest power moonroof ever fitted in a Japanese SUV. ABS and LSD are standard. It is available only with the 4JX1-TC engine with 3.0 liters of displacement and 16 valves that generates 160hp (119kW) and 333N·m (246lb·ft) of torque. Inside, it is fitted with standard leather seats, wood trim and a VCD entertainment system. It was succeeded by the Isuzu Alterra.
- 1992 - Trooper won class victory in '92 Australian Safari.
- 1993 - Troopers took first and second place in the class of '93 Australian Safari.
- 1994 - Trooper won the Marathon class victory at the 1994 Paris-Dakar Rally.
- 1994 - Trooper finished first in its class at the Pharaoh's Rally.
The second generation Trooper received some bad press in the United States when the 1995-1997 models were rated "Not Acceptable" by Consumer Reports for their tendency to roll over during testing. In a lawsuit brought by Isuzu against Consumers Union, the court found that some of the magazine's statements showed a "reckless disregard" for the truth. The court found in favor for Isuzu on 60% of the claims in the suit. Ultimately, however, many of Isuzu's other major allegations (including negative statements, test doctoring, and stunt driving) were dismissed by the jury, and the lawsuit favored Consumers Union. Trooper sales never recovered.
- North America - Isuzu Trooper II (1983-1989), Isuzu Trooper (1990-2002), sold by Honda as Acura SLX (from 1996-2000)
- South America and Africa - Isuzu Trooper and Chevrolet Trooper
- Colombia - Chevrolet Trooper (First Generation), Chevrolet Trooper 960 (Second generation)
- Venezuela - Isuzu Caribe 442
- Asia (excluding Japan) - Isuzu Trooper, also sold by Chevrolet as Chevrolet Trooper.
- Japan - Isuzu Bighorn, Subaru Bighorn, sold by Honda as Honda Horizon (similar to the SLX, introduced in 1994, discontinued in 1999)
- Europe - Isuzu Trooper (1st & 2nd Generation) & Opel/Vauxhall Monterey (late model 2nd Generation)
- New Zealand - Isuzu Bighorn, Isuzu Trooper, Holden Jackaroo, Holden Monterey
- Australia - Holden Jackaroo, Holden Monterey