• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Junkyard Gem: 2004 Isuzu Axiom


Jun 10, 2023
Junkyard Gem: 2004 Isuzu Axiom


Though the final Isuzu-badged car sold in the United States was the 1993 Isuzu Stylus, Isuzu did very well selling trucks here during the remainder of the 1990s. Things still looked pretty good for Isuzu as the new century dawned, but by then everybody had upped their truck game and many of the competition’s offerings made Isuzus seem old-fashioned. Isuzu cooked up a distinctive new body for the Rodeo chassis, arranged to have it built at Subaru’s plant in Indiana, and called it the Axiom. You won’t see many Axioms today, but I found this last-year-of-production example in an Oklahoma City car graveyard recently.

As we all know, the decline and fall of Isuzu in North America accelerated quickly as the 2000s progressed. The VehiCROSS was interesting but just too weird and it got the axe after 2001. The increasingly antiquated Trooper held on through 2002, the Amigo (aka Rodeo Sport) through 2003, and that left just the Axiom and Rodeo to hang on by their fingernails into 2004. By 2005, the only new Isuzu-branded passenger vehicles sold in the United States were two rebadged Chevrolets: the Ascender (Trailblazer) and i-Series pickup (Colorado). In early 2009, Isuzu announced that it would be departing, presumably forever. You can still buy new Isuzu commercial trucks here, of course.

The 2004 Axiom had MSRPs starting at $24,849 for the S trim level with rear-wheel-drive and going up to $30,499 for the upscale XS with all-wheel-drive. That’s about $40,703 and $49,958 in 2023 dollars.

Joe Isuzu was brought back after a decade of retirement to pitch the Axiom. Note that Joe’s brag in this commercial is how much cheaper the Axiom was than the Volvo Cross Country.

This truck is the cheap Axiom S 4×2, which still seems well-appointed.

The 2004 Axiom’s 3.5-liter V6 engine made 250 horsepower and 246 pound-feet, up from 230 horsepower and 230 pound-feet in the 2002-2003 Axioms.

The power improvements were the result of the switch to gasoline direct injection fuel delivery for the ’04 Axiom. Isuzu was so proud of the system that it applied these badges.

The only transmission available was a four-speed automatic.

The Axiom was introduced to the American public as the SPYMobile in the 2001 film “Spy Kids.”

The body and interior of this one appear to be nice enough for a 19-year-old vehicle, so we can assume that it showed up in this place as the result of expensive mechanical problems.

We’ll get to the Joe Isuzu ads in a moment. First, let’s see how Isuzu marketed the I-Mark in the early days of selling its own cars in the United States (the P’up pickup beat the I-Mark to American Isuzu dealerships by a year). This ad has not aged well.

“You’ll never take that thing off-road. You should get an Isuzu Axiom. It’s designed for the real world.”

Somehow, 21st-century Joe Isuzu seems less endearing without the constant lying of 1980s Joe Isuzu.

“You want one, don’t you?”

One can only hope that the Axiom with the Joe Isuzu mural on the hood is still out there.

Joe can disassemble a Toyota Highlander in a hurry.

He also put in some work on Rodeo ads at the same time.

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