2004 Isuzu Ascender LS 4.2 litre V6 from North America


Reliable and relatively trouble free


Speedometer/tachometer started acting up at about 30000 miles. I did a little research and found that this is common on these cars. I bought a couple of new stepper motors from ebay and replaced the original. This required taking the instrument panel off, but I'm pretty handy, so it only took about an hour.

General Comments:

Overall, it's been reliable. We traded a Rodeo for it because the Rodeo was built on a truck chassis (and rode like it). The Ascender has a much smoother ride. It's a big car, however, and gives me the overall impression of being 'bulky'. My wife loves it, however. The third row of seats is great when family visits, or my kids have friends over, and is easy to fold down.

We've taken a couple of long road trips, and overall it's a very smooth driver. I expected better mileage... averaging 14-17 mpg in mixed city driving. Not long after we got it, my wife wished we had gotten the luxury model, because she realized we would have it for a long time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th April, 2010

10th Apr 2010, 12:26

We have a 2004 as well, and it is also built on a "truck chassis" as it is a full frame SUV. It is smooth, but doesn't handle multiple large bumps too well, and hops around, especially on curves. We get around 24 mpg on trips, and don't do a lot of around town, so the mileage isn't too bad.

We just put about $900 into various minor repairs at 85K miles, but now it is making the infamous "jet engine" sound underneath, and research leads me to believe the transmission may have issues as it is coming from under the truck and not under the hood. The two issues are the fan clutch and the transmission that make the sound I am hearing. Both of these are very expensive fixes... especially the transmission. Trailblazer owners are looking for a recall on the fan clutch, and if they succeed, I hope they include the Ascender as it is about 95% Trailblazer.

Unfortunately, I couldn't talk my wife into trading it this year when the minor issues started racking up the bills. She wants to be free of car payments. Now we'll likely be making payments on a new transmission! Could be my last GM product as this will be the second one I have owned that needed thousands in repairs before even getting to 100K miles. My other car was an Olds Cutlass, and I was in about $6,000 of repairs by 98K miles and it was traded with $100's more in repairs still needed. A bit extreme for a highway driven car. Time to try another company.

2006 Isuzu Ascender LS 4.2L from North America


Best large SUV for the money


Like the Trail Blazer the A/C pressure relay acted up and had to be replaced (known issue on Trail Blazer). Also the rear hatch latch has a plastic sleeve that is like a shim to cushion the closing and action on the latch, the plastic spit causing the latch to jam and not close (I unjammed and took to dealer for repairs).

Another issue with this body style is the rear window on the hatch; the hinge for the hatch-back is on the window, and if the window is open and hatch is tried to be opened, you can BEND the hinge and need to replace the window/hinge (cannot do independently), this means painting the new window hinge. Isuzu replaced for free, but to me it's a design flaw.

Last design flaw is the sunroof drain lines; they are too small and can be easily plugged, making it leak on driver and passenger (same on the Trailblazer).

These are items you need to own to find out, but been great other than these few things.

General Comments:

I see others talking about the mileage, must be the 2 wheel drive models, as mine (4x4) gets 13mpg city and 18ish mpg highway. Not as good as I hoped, but for the size and weight you get OK.

I wanted another truck, wife wanted a luxury car so she said an SUV would be OK if had lots of bells and whistles.

The Ascender has lots of space and rides great, the 3 rows of seating on our 7 passenger makes hauling the gang around easy. I wanted the 7 passenger since I needed the back space for hauling, the 5 passenger was just a little too small for all I haul. On a recent scout camping trip, we loaded 7 people and all the gear for a Friday - Sunday trip. Hard to do that in most SUV's, but not the Isuzu.

I like to keep my vehicles for at least 10 years to get my moneys worth, so I wanted a vehicle that was reliable. Many friends have owned Isuzu for 10+ years and still running!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th July, 2008

19th Jun 2011, 00:30

I have an 2004 Ascender and I lover my BABY...

The only issue I have is the faulty instrument panel which randomly shuts-off. Excellent road mileage in city and great on highway!

I wonder how do I fix the faulty instrument panel?

20th Jun 2011, 09:38

Type "2004 Isuzu Ascender instrument panel failure" into Google and you'll get the frightening results. This is a nationwide problem that GM has ignored for many years on these vehicles. The Trailblazer, Envoy, Rainier, Saab 92X (which are all the same vehicle as your Ascender) have all had similar issues. It is likely a computer problem, which can cost a lot of money to fix.

We had a 2004 Ascender too, and thought it was great... until about 75K miles when everything started failing on it. We put over $3K into it and then finally traded it in. We too thought it was great, but it failed us miserably. We only experienced the speedometer reading wrong once. I looked it up and found the problem was probably the computer, but luckily it never did it again. We had the jet sound, stalling issues, front end falling apart, rear end falling apart, and pretty much every other issue they had other than the computer failure. By the time we traded it in, the transmission was failing and the front differential had failed, so it no longer was AWD.

Many of the posters on this site will have you believe GM is full of deceitful dealers and everyone tries to rip you off because your vehicle breaks all the time. Trust me, if you can, sell it now and move onto something better. You may be sorry if you continue to drive it much longer. We surely were.