EXPERT REVIEW

chicagotribune.com's view

Comfy and cozy even if a bit lacking in the styling graces. In other words,it’s got sheet metal only the designer would love.

While the U.S. competition drags its feet, Trooper is one sport-utility that has dual air bags and ABS (rear-wheel only) as standard (four-wheel ABS a$1,100 option).

The 3.2-liter, 175-h.p., 24-valve, V-6 moves quickly and quietly from the stop sign, but the mileage rating is depressing at 15 m.p.g. city/17 m.p.g. highway teamed with a 4-speed automatic.

What may cool down the sport-utility market? The realization by owners thatmileage is considerably worse than in that four-door sedan they gave up.

Great feature-the rear side windows power all the way down instead of stopping a few inches from the bottom.

Not-so-great feature-the rear seats are twice as hard as a marble slab. Anylong trip better be to a chiropractor to straighten you out. By the way, entryto the rear seat is directly over the wheel well, meaning you risk rubbing your good clothes against the slush and mud and dirt buildup there.

Love/hate feature-the awkward looking 70/30 split rear doors in which the left side door swings open like a car so you can slip a ladder or lumber in back.

Questionable feature-this 4WD utility comes with a transfer case on the floor and not a push-button or dial on the dash to activate the system.

Questionable game plan-Honda’s Acura division is supposed to get a version of this as its luxury sport-utility in 1996. The Honda version is supposed to be no more than a Trooper with an Acura logo on it. You’d expect more from Honda/Acura. The Honda/Isuzu venture already has yielded the Honda Passport, arebadged Isuzu Rodeo.

Notable standard equipment includes power brakes, speed-sensitive power steering, tilt steering, rear window washer/wiper/defroster, dual power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks.

Base price: $29,980. Add $550 for a CD player and $420 for freight.

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