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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Isuzu Axiom Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Isuzu Axiom Overview

More Than Just a Pretty Face

Here's an SUV that makes no secret of the fact that it's more about a nice car-like ride than it is about climbing Mt. Everest. Honesty is so refreshing and with the Isuzu Axiom, it's also extremely attractive. Unless you count running up the curb as off-roading, it is pretty well known that most SUVs rarely if ever see the kind of terrain they're designed to tackle. Most people buy an SUV because it is a big, powerful and allows them to sit up high. So why not take all of these features and combine them in a vehicle that can also perform? That's exactly what the people at Isuzu must have been asking themselves when they came up with the Axiom concept.

You'll know right off the bat that the Axiom is different because when you look at it, it appears to be about ten years ahead of its time. The attractive, angular Axiom looks more like a modern sculpture than a mode of everyday transportation; we particularly like the way it looks in black. There are still two trim levels for 2003, the S and XS, but the S model has been slightly de-contented this year in order to drop the price by more than $2000. This now makes the base 2WD model a much more affordable prospect while still offering a high level of standard equipment. Both the S and XS can be ordered in either 2WD (rear drive) or Torque-On-Demand 4WD. The 4WD Axioms employ a system that splits the engine's torque, directing it to the front wheels only when slippage is detected at the rear; the Axiom also allows you to shift on the fly when you want to keep the 4WD presently engaged.

In addition to its 4WD system, the Axiom features a unique suspension called ISC (Intelligent Suspension Control) that allows you to choose between a soft ride and a more firm, controlled one. Though we didn't detect much of a difference between the two settings at first, after living the Axiom for a few days, we began to feel the subtle difference. For the most part, we kept the suspension setting in the "sport" mode and still felt the ride was more than acceptable. The Axiom does handle fairly well considering it's sitting on a truck platform; the center of gravity is still high in the Axiom and you'll feel it when you go around corners, but the taut suspension and big tires go along way to minimizing body roll and lean.

The Axiom's driveline and suspension are perfectly matched to the power 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces a very respectable 230-horsepower. You'll like the way this engine pulls; it's strong off-the-line and even stronger when you need extra power to pass or climb hills. Unfortunately, you will pay a penalty at the pump as the V6's power comes at the expense of good gas mileage.

A look inside the Axiom reveals an interior equal in design to the vehicle's handsome exterior. The dash, doors and steering wheel feature a handsome two-tone treatment that looks particularly alluring with the optional leather seating. The instrument panel is really cool, with two large round gauge faces for the speedometer and tachometer and an elevated center stack that houses a Multi-function monitor that can display among other things a compass, fuel economy meter, calendar and the ambient outside temperature. Isuzu also wisely includes a standard audio system that absolutely rocks. Other standard features include power windows, power door locks, power mirrors with defoggers, cruise control, automatic climate control, power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar, a tilt steering wheel and an overhead console.

We found it easy to get comfortable in the Axiom's front seats and we liked how all the controls and functions were easy to reach and operate. Rear seat comfort is about average for this class, with legroom becoming tight when the front seats are fully retracted. The rear seat does recline, a nice feature for those who like to snooze on long trips; if no one usually rides along with you, you can fold the Axiom's rear seats flat and create a very large cargo area suitable for carrying all types of gear.

One other very attractive feature we need to mention is Isuzu's incredibly long warranty: 3-years/36,000 bumper-to-bumper and 7-years/75,000 on the powertrain. The 7/75 plan also includes Isuzu's Roadside Assistance program that covers flat tire repair, lockout assistance, battery charging and non-accident related towing.

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