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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Isuzu Axiom Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Isuzu Axiom Overview

Stylish Yet Rugged

Isuzu was really ahead of the curve when they built the first Axiom. The idea that a four-wheel-drive SUV could be anything but a four-wheel-drive SUV had never really occurred to anyone, so when the Axiom came along—with its space-age styling, luxuriously appointed interior and ad campaign that spoofed the Jeep Grand Cherokee's off-road advertising—there were quite a few skeptics. Of course now this crossover "more car than truck" kind of vehicle is all the rage in the industry, as can be seen with such makes as the Infiniti FX, Cadillac SRX and Porsche Cayenne. What's that you say, haven't got a cool $50K plus to toss out on vehicles such as those? No worries, the Axiom starts at just $24,849 and even when fully loaded lists for just a hair over $30K.

The already impressive Axiom gets even more attractive this year with the addition of a brand-new engine: a gasoline direct-injection V6. This rare and difficult to master technology involves a process where the injector dispenses fuel directly into the combustion chamber rather than into an intake port. By using a high pressure injector, the fuel can be disperse in a finer spray, allowing it to burn more efficiently thus producing more power and less pollution. To give you an idea of just how rare this type of engine is, Isuzu likes to point out that the only other manufacturers to offer gasoline direct injection are BMW and Rolls Royce. The Axiom's new 3.5-liter GDI engine is more efficient than its predecessor and actually produces more horsepower and torque. The GDI can run on regular unleaded gasoline and still produce fewer harmful emissions than a traditional fuel injected engine.

With a comfortable 250-horsepower and 247 lbs-ft. of torque under the hood, there is little in the way of obstacles to impede the Axiom's forward momentum. Though big and boxy in appearance, the Axiom seems to sail through the air with relative ease. We experienced very little in the way of wind buffeting or blocking, a trait that too often causes taller profile vehicles to act as giant sails when caught in a crosswind. You'll find that power comes on quickly with the Axiom, with plenty of passing and pulling torque available in the low rpm band. With some V6's, you have to mash the accelerator to the floor to summon the advertised horsepower output, but with the Axiom, the power you desire is completely linear to the degree of throttle input. The quick-thinking four-speed automatic does a good job of maximizing the engine's power, delaying shifts when you're trying to accelerate quickly and minimizing the workload when you're simply cruising the highways.

The Axiom also features a unique two-setting electronic suspension that allows you to choose between a soft or firm ride. Though you probably won't feel an immediate difference between the two settings at first, after living with the Axiom for a few days, you'll begin to feel the subtle difference. For the most part, you can probably just keep the suspension setting in the "sport" mode and still find the ride to be more than acceptable. Though it still has a higher center of gravity than a passenger car, the Axiom handles fairly well, exhibiting minimal lean and roll. Part of the credit for the Axiom's polite road manners goes to the stiffer suspension and fat 17-inch tires.

If you live in an area that regularly sees snow, you'll probably want to opt for the four-wheel drive model. The Axiom uses a sophisticated Torque-on-Demand system that splits power between the front and rear axles. Under normal driving conditions, the rear wheels are pushing the Axiom, but should they begin to slip, power is immediately routed to the front wheels until traction is regained. Unlike most all-wheel-drive system the Axiom also features a shift-on-the-fly system with a high/low transfer case that allows you to permanently engage the four-wheel drive.

The Axiom's other technological triumph can be found inside. Here you'll discover a thoroughly modern interior that dares to take chances with color and design. In a sea of boring monotone clones, the Axiom's interior design is a breath of fresh air. You'll find a handsome two-tone treatment applied to the dash, doors and steering wheel, a warm environment that looks particularly alluring with the optional leather seating. The instrument panel is clear and simple, with large analog gauges and a multi-function monitor that displays settings for the compass, fuel economy meter, calendar and the ambient outside temperature.

You'll find the Axiom's front seats to be very comfortable with good lower back and side support. Rear seat passengers don't have a tremendous amount of legroom, but two adults can ride comfortably with the option to recline their seatbacks. When no one else is along for the ride, you can fold the Axiom's rear seats flat and create a very large cargo area suitable for carrying all types of gear. Standard features on the S model include power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, cruise control, automatic climate control, power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar, a tilt steering wheel and an overhead console. The XS trim offers heated mirrors, power sunroof, fog lights, intelligent suspension control, heated seats, auto-dimming rear view mirror and a six-disc CD changer. All Axioms come standard with Isuzu's 3-year/50,000-mi bumper-to-bumper and 7-year/75,000-mi on the powertrain warranties.

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