e are the culmination of our experiences, and the same is true for companies. Companies, like people, seem to have a life of their own.
Each new product, each new decision adds to the evolution of a company, creating a legacy of quality or leading to its eventual downfall. Isuzu is one of those companies that have survived, learned its lessons, responded to market demands, and because of its success, we felt it was worthy of rewinding the clock twenty years and taking a look at the past two decades of automotive achievement.
While Isuzu is now known for its high-quality Ascender and tough pickup trucks, it’s not surprising that 20 years ago, the company was already on the road to success. In 1988, Isuzu positioned itself as the number one truck maker (medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks) in the world, surpassing Daimler-Benz. With such an incredible output of trucks, it was only a matter of time before the company began to focus on the light-duty truck market.
By 1992, American Isuzu Motors Inc. had something to celebrate. The company retailed its one-millionth unit in the U.S., catering to the growing needs of the sport utility vehicle market in North America.
With the introduction of the famed Isuzu Trooper, the company became the first import manufacturer to offer three segments of SUVs: the mini, the compact, and the full-size.
Two years later in 1994, the Isuzu Rodeo – another popular model – took on competitors at the Alcan 5000 – a 4,133-mile rally from Seattle, Washington ending eight days later in the Arctic Circle. It won, becoming the first SUV to boast that accomplishment. The Rodeo proved its worth again in 1994 when another Rodeo won first place, ensuring it was no surprise when the winner of the 2000 Alcan Winter Rally was, again, a Rodeo.
A year later, in 2001, American Isuzu Motors Inc. introduced the Axiom – a revolutionary blend of performance, comfort, and technology. The Axiom was popular but Isuzu realized that the SUV market was changing and they needed to change with it.
In 2003, Isuzu introduced the Ascender 7-Passenger with more passenger space than Axiom. In addition, the Ascender 7-Passenger was the first Isuzu SUV to boast a V8 engine. While the Ascender 7-Passenger was revered by many as one of the best high-performance SUVs on the market, it wasn’t for everyone. City dwellers wanted SUVs that were just as high-quality, but smaller, more fuel-efficient, and more affordable. And thus, the following year, Isuzu came out with the Ascender 5-Passenger – a more compact version of its older brother.
Determined not to compromise the vehicle’s versatility, the Ascender 5-Passenger contained Isuzu’s most powerful six-cylinder engine ever.
In 2006, Isuzu expanded their offerings to include two new pickups – the i-280 4×2 Extended Cab and the i-350 4×4 Crew Cab. Produced in Shreveport, Louisiana, the pickup trucks are an instant hit, providing customers with class-leading towing and payload capacities. 2006 was a good year for Isuzu. In addition to the new pickup line, Intellichoice recognized Isuzu’s entire lineup as the best in their class for low costs.
In 2007, Isuzu improved on its pickup truck line, upgrading both the i-290 and the i-370 with larger engines and increased torque and horsepower. Prices, however, stayed the same as the previous year.
In 2007, Isuzu added two new models to its line: the i-370 4×2 Extended Cab and the i-370 4×2 Crew Cab, giving pickup customers multiple options.
What’s Isuzu up to now? Let’s just say 2008 promises to be a good year for the company. And why wouldn’t it? With a track record like theirs, staying on track seems like the right thing to do.