American Isuzu Motors Inc. on March 28 revealed the all-new 2003 Ascender flagship SUV at the 2002 New York International Auto Show. With standard third-row, seven-passenger seating, a choice of inline six-cylinder and V8 engines, and icargo capacity that rivals much larger full-size SUVs, the Ascender is the largest and most powerful SUV in Isuzu's history. According to Isuzu, the Ascender is the only vehicle in its class to offer a 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. "The Isuzu Ascender is a true SUV for families who now need to move up to more room, more performance, more security and more value," said Rick Balsiger, vice president of SUV marketing and product planning for American Isuzu. The 2003 Isuzu Ascender will be offered in three trim levels - S, LS and Limited - with a choice of two-wheel drive or on-demand four-wheel drive. The Ascender is scheduled to go on sale at Isuzu dealers nationwide later this year. Dynamic Styling The Isuzu Ascender's wheelbase is an extra-long 129.0 inches, providing ample space inside the cabin for seven passengers, according to the company. Ascender's chrome grille reveals its family resemblance to other Isuzu vehicles, including the Rodeo. An aerodynamic front fascia incorporates halogen headlamps and standard integrated fog lights. All Ascender models will be equipped with sporty 17-inch alloy wheels, overfenders, body side moldings and a roof-mounted luggage rack. The Ascender Limited will include a special monotone paint treatment and running boards. A power moonroof will be standard on LS and Limited models. The Ascender's standard 4.2-liter, 24-valve, dual overhead cam aluminum inline six-cylinder engine generates an impressive 275 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 275 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm, and has already been selected as one of the industry's "10 Best Engines" by Ward's Communications. For those who desire additional power, the Ascender LS and Limited will offer an optional all-aluminum, 5.3-liter OHV V8 that weighs about 100 pounds less than an equivalent cast-iron block engine. The Ascender's V8 generates 285 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 325 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. With its strong torque output, the Ascender V8 is rated for up to 7,400 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped. Both engines will be mated to a standard four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that, according to Isuzu, provides extremely smooth shifts. Traction in Action Two-wheel-drive Ascender LS and Limited models will offer the added security of electronic traction control. For those who seek all-wheel traction, the Ascender will offer an advanced on-demand four-wheel-drive system. When set in the "Auto-4WD" mode, it automatically engages four-wheel drive without any input from the driver. One hundred percent of the power is sent to the rear wheels until conditions warrant a change to 4WD. Then, torque is automatically transferred to the front wheels as needed. As a true SUV, the Ascender will employ body-on-frame construction. Full-length hydroformed side rails with 10 cross-members will provide Ascender with an extremely rigid chassis. The Ascender's suspension will feature a front independent A-arm design with a five-link solid rear axle. With its standard premium-ride suspension and Bilstein monotube shocks, Isuzu says the Ascender will deliver a comfortable, car-like ride on the pavement while being equally adept at handling the rigors of off-road navigation. The Ascender has a hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. Bringing Ascender to a halt will be standard four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS and aluminum dual-piston front brake calipers. Plenty of Space Ascender's cabin will provide an abundance of passenger and cargo space. Seven-passenger seating will be standard on all models. The second-row split-folding and reclining seats include a flip-and-tumble feature to allow easy entry to the third row. The split-folding, reclining third seat allows plenty of room for two full-sized adults, according to Isuzu. With the second- and third-row seats folded down, Ascender will have a flat load floor with 100.2 cubic feet of cargo space, plus the added convenience of standard under-floor storage and a rear cargo shelf with adjustable height levels. Luxurious Appointments The Ascender's standard comfort and convenience features will include power windows and door locks, power heated outside mirrors, cruise control, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, AM/FM stereo with CD player, an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with a digital compass display, and dual-zone air conditioning with pollen filter and rear climate controls. Standard on LS and Limited will be a Driver Information Center, which offers instant access to a variety of information, and the Travelnote voice recorder, which allows the driver to record appointments, notes or reminders. Automatic air conditioning is available on LS and Limited models. Befitting its stature as the most luxurious Ascender, the Limited will add leather-trimmed, power heated front bucket seats. A driver's memory system will allow the seat and side mirrors to be personalized for two individual drivers' preferences. The Limited's standard premium Bose sound system will include AM/FM stereo with six-disc in-dash CD player, Radio Data System (RDS) technology and rear seat controls with two headphone jacks. Safety a Priority Ascender will be the first Isuzu SUV equipped with the OnStar telematics system. Available features of OnStar services include destination guidance, remote unlocking and diagnostics, emergency assistance when airbags deploy and concierge services. Other standard safety features on all Ascenders include three-point seatbelts in all seven seating positions, dual-stage front airbags, dual side airbags, daytime running lights and an engine immobilizing anti-theft system. Ten-Year, 120,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty Isuzu backs the Ascender - and all of its SUVs - with "America's Longest Warranty," a 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. In addition, there's a three-year/50,000-mile basic factory limited warranty, five-year/60,000 mile roadside assistance and six-year/100,000-mile perforation from corrosion limited warranty. The Isuzu Ascender is based on a General Motors platform that it will share with the extended-wheelbase Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL. All three will be manufactured at a GM facility in Moraine, Ohio. When Ascender replaces Trooper at the top of Isuzu's line, Isuzu becomes the first import brand in the United States to assemble all of the passenger vehicles it sells here. Isuzu has been a member of the GM Global Alliance Network since 1971. Complete specifications and vehicle pricing will be announced closer to the Ascender's retail release, according to American Isuzu. American Isuzu Motors Inc. in the U.S. distributor of Isuzu sport utility vehicles and diesel engines. For more information call (800) 662-2464 or visit