The 2005 Isuzu Ascender features improved safety features, a freshened face and interior, and added creature comforts. The Ascender is based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer, but continues an Isuzu tradition of rugged capability with body-on-frame construction and available four-wheel drive. Ascender comes in 5-Passenger and 7-Passenger versions. The five-passenger version is shorter and it handles better than the seven-passenger version and is much easier to park. We feel the 5-Passenger Ascender ranks among the best of the mid-size SUVs, particularly for buyers who want a rugged vehicle. It features a pleasant cabin and a versatile cargo area. It's relatively smooth and offers responsive handling for a midsize SUV. GM's inline-6 is an excellent engine, smooth and responsive, with strong torque. The 7-Passenger version, on the other hand, is built on a stretched wheelbase and feels long and cumbersome. The standard six-cylinder engine struggles with the additional weight. The optional 5.3-liter V8 is a better match and, for 2005, it's more powerful and more fuel-efficient than last year's V8. The new V8's Displacement on Demand seamlessly shuts off cylinders at light throttle cruise to further fuel economy. Safety is enhanced with upgraded airbag systems. Late-2005 Ascender models offer the availability of rollover-sensing roof-rail curtain airbags designed to provide head protection for outboard passengers in the first and second rows. The available OnStar system, which we recommend highly, has been upgraded to better alert emergency crews and summon them to the scene in the event of an accident. Ascender offers a slightly better warranty than the nearly identical Chevy and GMC models. Ascender comes with Isuzu's three-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a new seven-year/75,000-mile roadside assistance program, and seven-year/75,000-mile powertrain coverage. The Chevrolet and GMC versions of the vehicle are covered by a three-year/36,000-mile warranty program.