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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Trooper is good off-road, well built and great value for money

Against The cabin looks cheap, the ride is unsettled on-road, and SWB cars are cramped

Verdict The value is appealing, but you can spend your money better

Go for… 3.0 DT Duty LWB 5dr

Avoid… 3.5 Insignia auto LWB 5dr

Isuzu Trooper 4x4
  • 1. As the Trooper is best as an off-road workhorse, the ideal engine is the 3.0-litre diesel, with its stronger low-down pull
  • 2. Problems with the gearbox are not uncommon and the steering can wear rapidly if the car is used for towing
  • 3. The Trooper is one of the very best 4x4s off-road
  • 4. Failed fuel injectors can be costly to fix
  • 5. The boot is good, but the split rear door (which doesn't open the full width) is maddening
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Isuzu Trooper 4x4 full review with expert trade views

Along with the Mitsubishi Shogun, the Isuzu Trooper is almost the definition of an off-road workhorse. Although it normally runs in rear-wheel drive, you engage four-wheel drive via a button on the dash, with low-ratio gears for when the going gets really rough. In short, it's one of the very best in the sticky stuff.

Sadly, it's nowhere near as good on the road. There's loads of body roll through the bends, the steering is imprecise, and the ride never seems to settle. If you'll spend most of your time on the road, try a Honda CR-V instead.

However, if you're after practicality, you've come to the right place. At least, you have if you choose the long-wheelbase five-door model, which is much more versatile than its smaller brother.

In both versions, the swathes of black plastic on the dash make it look cheap, and the split rear door (which doesn't open the full width) is maddening.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Durable and reliable workhorse. Not so much image these days so values on the slide

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Trooper only ever had two engines: a 3.5-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre turbodiesel. As the Trooper is best as an off-road workhorse, the diesel makes the better choice.

It's the more fuel-efficient (although not by much), but most importantly it has more low-down pulling power, which makes it better suited to off-roading, towing or carrying heavy loads.

Steer clear of the three-door model. Not only do we think the five-door is better looking, the SWB car is effectively only a four-seater and the LWB car can take up to seven, with an optional third row of seats.

It's best to avoid the most basic (unbadged) trim in favour of the next step up, Duty, which has twin airbags and central locking. You can step up to Citation for air-conditioning (climate control from December 1999), or Insignia (from October 1999), which had leather upholstery and a CD changer. However, both are needlessly dear.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Reliable seller, especially with 3.0TD and Citation spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

At any given age, the Trooper works out cheaper than the equivalent Land Rover Discovery.

In terms of other running costs, the Isuzu looks respectable, too. For example, the various models sit in groups 14 and 15 for insurance, which is almost identical to the Discovery and Shogun.

The V6 petrol engine in the Trooper is also much more fuel-efficient than the Discovery's V8, although the diesel's 26.9mpg does rather lag behind the 30.1mpg of diesel versions of the Discovery.

If there is a downside, it's that the short service intervals mean that routine servicing works out as rather expensive, particularly on the diesels.

However, on the other hand, unscheduled work should not be too dear. Warranty Direct tell us that Isuzu's labour rates and average repair costs are lower than average - and considerably lower than those for other 4x4-renowned companies such as Jeep, Mitsubishi and Land Rover.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Durable and reliable workhorse. Not so much image these days so values on the slide

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There have been two recalls on the Trooper, but both affect only the diesel models. The first concerned possible fires caused by the ceramic heater terminal, and the second was a result of problems with the fuel injectors.

Apart from that, there aren't too many problems to worry about. According to figures from Warranty Direct, the Trooper is one of the better 4x4s, with reliability levels above average.

However, when things do go wrong, there are three usual suspects - the fuel system, engine and brakes. Failed fuel injectors can be costly to fix, problems with the gearbox are not uncommon and the steering can wear rapidly if the car is used for towing.

Certainly, owners seem reasonably happy with the car. Reviews online barely mention any problems, and in its last appearance in the JD Power survey, in 2002, the Trooper was rated as fifth-best 4x4, with above-average ratings for its quality and reliability.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Reliable seller, especially with 3.0TD and Citation spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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