The General had a big showroom hit with the 2002-2009 GMT360 platform, which we know best when sporting Chevrolet Trailblazer or GMC Envoy badging, though sales slackened as the decade went on and crossovers nudged aside truck-based family haulers. There were Oldsmobile- and Buick-badged GMT360s as well, but SUV trivia fans prefer to discuss the versions sold as the Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender. We saw a 2008 9-7X in this series a few years back, and now it’s the Ascender’s turn.
Isuzu departed the United States in 2009, but the only two Isuzu-badged machines available here at the end were rebadged Chevrolets: The Ascender (Trailblazer) and the I-Series pickup (Colorado), and the Ascender alone carried the Isuzu flag here in 2005. The last Isuzu-badged car sold new here was the 1993 Stylus (the what?), though Isuzu trucks were very popular throughout the 1990s. Joe Isuzu had seen better days by the time this Ascender hit the road.
The Ascender had one big marketplace advantage: it was the cheapest of all the GMT360 trucks during its 2003-2008 sales run (and that’s not a lie). The Bravada got the axe with the death of the Oldsmobile brand in 2004, but we can look at the remaining steps on the GMT360 pricing ziggurat for 2005: Ascender ($25,959), Trailblazer ($27,520), Envoy ($29,750), Rainier ($35,080), 9-7X ($38,270). Those are the prices for the base-model, five-passenger trucks, of course, but you get the idea.
Today’s Junkyard Treasure is the big seven-passenger model with the Limited package, and it has the optional 5.3-liter V8 engine as well. That’s 300 horsepower, versus just 275 for the base 4.2-liter straight-six (an engine with which I have become quite familiar in recent years). Out-the-door price on this truck likely flirted with Rainier levels, but it still would have been a better deal for near-identical features.
When it comes to power and space and value, three of out three’s not bad!
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