(First Posted October 8, 2013) Here is an idea for a little game. Walk into ten separate social gatherings. Mention to everyone there that you drive an Isuzu Oasis. Then watch the blank stares. It doesn’t really matter that there has not been an Oasis since 1999, this game would have gone the same way back then, too.
I will confess that the oddball side of me has always wanted one of these in order to collect as many of those blank stares as possible. And the payoff is that you get to drive the best Isuszu ever made. Well, that and you also get to set the cabin temperature, put your favorite music on the radio and say to yourself “Ahhhhh – my very own private Oasis from a hectic world.” Once the oddball side of me gets out, it is hard to contain.
The top product men at Honda and Isuzu must have grown up playing Monopoly. “Hey Ito – I’ll trade you my hotels on Baltic and Mediterranean for that undeveloped St. Charles Place that you have sitting there.” It must have been the same thing in real life. In mid-1990s America, Honda was selling lots and lots of cars, some minivans, and absolutely zero of the very popular SUVs. Isuzu was selling nothing but trucks and SUVs, but none of the highly popular minivans. So, a deal was struck.
Honda would get the Isuzu Rodeo SUV, that would be re-badged as the Honda Passport (CC here). In trade, Isuzu would get a minivan – a re-badge of the original Honda Odyssey (CC here).
So, who got the better deal? That’s hard to say. Well, really it’s not. Honda sold the Passport (in two generations) from 1993-2002, and sold quite a few of them. However, they were reputed to be a few notches below what Honda buyers expected in terms of quality. I knew of at least one Passport owner who became quite angry when she found out that her Honda wasn’t really a Honda at all. (Of course, she found this out during a service visit that was not going well).
Isuzu? Well, they sold fewer than 3,000 copies of the Oasis per year, including a number used as taxis in New York City. Strangely, the Oasis continued to be sold for 1999, even after Honda’s Odyssey entered its second American generation that year. However, those few lucky Oasis buyers got the best vehicles ever to carry an Isuzu badge. So, the final tally goes like this: Passport Owners and Isuzu were the losers, while Oasis owners and Honda were the winners.
The unanswered question is what happened back at the Monopoly table? Why did Isuzu keep supplying Rodeos to Honda, but got no more Odysseys in return? Did Isuzu give up on the deal because of poor sales of the Oasis? Or did Honda turn all cutthroat with success and refuse to deal once they knew that the Gen 2 Ody was a hit? Surely someone out there knows.
So, now all of you are in on this little secret. The lesson here for all of you looking for cheap wheels with no baked-in vices is this: if you find a nice Oasis, snap it up. Only you had better get to it before I do. Just get ready for the blank stares.
I figured if you waited long enough, you’d eventually find one out there. There’s not as many Oases here as gen1 Oddys, but still a fair number.
I don’t know exactly what happened, but Isuzu might consider themselves lucky they didn’t get the gen2 Oddy to sell, given its rep as a tranny buster.
Just what, exactly, is the plural form of “Oasis”? Oases? Oasises? Oasis’? An Oasis and another Oasis?
I guessed “Oases”. And according to certain sources on the web, I guessed right. But I like “Oasii”.
I’ve heard tell that upon release of the Passport and Oasis, the Passport scored the lowest of any “Honda” in the Consumer Reports reliability surveys, while the Oasis scored the highest of any “Isuzu.”
I’ve never confirmed this, but give the reliability of the J-market Odyssey, it seems a likely outcome.
‘And after all, you’re my Wonderwall’.
Drive one of these down to Palm Springs with the best of the Gallagher brothers in the CD player – ‘Oasis, in an Oasis, on the way to an oasis’.
There is another vehicle in the mix in the Honda-Isuzu two step. Honda also bought Troopers and rebadged them SLX for their Acura division from 1996-1999 until the vehicle was replaced by the MDX in 2001(which was based on the Honda Pilot(an in house design) )
By the way, did anybody else notice that the Oasis pictured had a Chrysler radio installed(or attempted to be installed) I know 90’s Isuzu and Honda radios were not anything to write home about but to put a radio from Neon or some other Chrysler product into the car does not seem like an improvement
You’d be surprised. I once pulled a factory stereo out of Volvo at a junkyard to replace the stock radio in my ’77 Catalina because although Volvo was plainly written on the front, Blaupaunkt was the engraved manufacturer on the back. Was a vast improvement. We used to check all the AC-Delco decks in the ’90s because depending on the contract, you may find the GM brand which were crap or a number of different American manufacturers that were well worth the time and the dime.
Blaupunkt manufactured the cassette decks in the UX1 Delco Stereos. Crap, huh?
…and Chrysler sourced stereos/radios from Alpine, Mitsubishi, Chrysler Huntsville and who knows who else. This mostly applied to the base radios. You never knew which you’d get when you bought the car, either. I took the original AM-FM cassette from my Dodge, installed a Chrysler AM-FM-CD-cassette…my brother’s AM-FM-cassette in his same-year Plymouth Voyager crapped out and we swapped in the surplus one from my Dodge. Both were baseline radios. He said his original had never received as many stations.
My understanding is that, in the Japanese market, Isuzu also sold Honda cars with the Isuzu badge, as Isuzu no longer manufactured cars of its own.
Yep, they did, the Gemini was replaced by a rebadged Civic once Isuzu stopped building passenger cars. The Aska, which started life as Isuzu’s J-mobile, was initially replaced by a Subaru Legacy with different badging and then the (JDM) Accord. Weird, how all those competing brands sell each others’ cars, Mazda also sells or used to sell Nissans. What would be the reason for that?
Usually it was to fill a gap in their own product line.
Mazda didn’t make a station wagon for one generation of the Familia so they sold a Nissan Primera wasgon in it’s place. (I think it’s too late at night for me to bother looking it up in the Dog and Lemon guide.)
Indeed, and being the land of the weird used JDM import, we have the Isuzu-badged imposters here –
* 1992 Isuzu Aska (aka Subaru Legacy): http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/isuzu/aska/auction-463969764.htm
* 1994 Isuzu Gemini (aka Honda Domani): http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/isuzu/gemini/auction-648905228.htm
The white one’s the Aska; the green one’s the Gemini.
Great find, and in a my favorite forrest green too!
Besides the one I mentioned on the Odyssey thread, I probably haven’t seen an Oasis since the early ’00s.
I can’t say I’ve seen an Oasis since! 🙂
Don’t forget that Isuzu also furnished Honda with another SUV, the second gen Trooper. Honda sold it as the Acura SLX from 1996-99.
Like the Oasis, its a very rare beast. I saw one the other day in LA traffic.
After reading the Odyssey CC I immediately thought of the Oasis as a cheaper way to get a Honda.
Of course any vehicle named Oasis should have “What’s the Story Morning Glory” permanently on the stereo,
Probably not appropriate for a vehicle but I would have to vote for “Cigarettes & Alcohol”; in any event my favorite Oasis song.
Surely the Bellet and Piazza/Impulse are better. This is really the best-ever Isuzu?
I know right? Say what you want about Isuzu, but I still see a good number of Rodeo’s and Troopers around. Hell even an Impulse lives around here…
I forgot to mention the best of all: the 117 Coupe.
True. I wish I had one like this one.
Do I spy the snout of a Ford Fairmont peeking into the picture at left in the last shot?
I know of these vehicles, but don’t remember ever seeing one.
AS to the Acura SLX – I mean, what was with that?
I always saw the Isuzu-Honda marriage like I always saw the Billy Joel-Christy Brinkley marriage.
Hmm, maybe the exchange continued because Isuzu was supplying Honda with diesel engines for the European Civic. http://world.honda.com/news/2001/c010518.html
Strange coincidence that you posted this one this week. After a month of waiting, we are picking up our first minivan this weekend – a 1999 Isuzu Oasis LS. One owner, 145k miles, silver on gray, a couple dents and some rear wheel well rust, but priced under $2k. Interior is very nice as it has not been used to bus youngsters around (yet!).
Some other interesting facts about the first gen Odyssey/Oasis. Standard Honda 5-lug pattern of the time means recent generation Civic, Accord, and some Acura wheels bolt right up. Also it is possible to do a OEM front big brake upgrade using rotors and calipers/brackets from the same era Acura RL (requires upgrading to at least 16″ wheels). In Japan there were a couple of unique options available including a digital gauge that mounts where the US model has the clock. It featured a clock, outside temp, and a digital tach. Also in Japan was the Sunshine roof which provided a glass roof over the rear seats (as is popular on many cars today). Proof that Honda was way ahead of the curve on that one!
I saw a lot of these as taxis when I went to NYC in 1999.
Actually just scored me an oasis last month, might just resale her soon, doin some minor work to her
All the roads it had to walk were winding.
It would still be together if it wasn’t always breaking up, leaving me with a Blur.
Don’t look back in anger!
Stop with the puns or I’ll beat you all to a Pulp
So I saw this fender bender once. It was between a Isuzu Oasis, a Mercury Villager van, and a VW Routan. Or was it a Honda Odyssey, a Nissan van and a Chrysler Town and Country?
Hmm – beats me!
I don’t think Isuzu ever really shook off the “Joe Isuzu” image, and this sure didn’t fit it.
Ah yes living in the land of the rebadge can be strange but I havent noticed one of these yet, not that I take any notice of Hondas in general, never mind the general public its the parts guys who get confused with all this, my BILs consternation at being sent to write up a Honda Orthia while working as a Ford Mazda panel rep had he not showed me his work laptop with the listings I wouldnt have believed him either, Isuzu Askas badged Holden only sold in NZ outside Japan new one or two still exist, ok one Ive seen locally I assume another must be somewhere, Chevrolet Cruz by Suzuki, the list is long and fascinating.
It just occurred to me that an Isuzu Oasis would be perfectly complemented by a Honda Passport, the badge engineering quid pro quo.
One unique thing about the Oasis is that it was built for one more year than the gen 1 Odyssey. They probably sold a few to people who didn’t like the gen 2’s change of direction from “tallish wagon” to “Chrysler minivan made by someone other than Chrysler, complete with fixed sliding-door glass and frail transmissions”.
Much of the world carried on with a facelift of the Gen1 Odyssey that was built through 2003 rather than a new model. Only the US, Canada, and Japan got the larger minivan-type 2nd generation Odyssey. I just learned in Japan it was called the Honda LaGreat – what an awesome name!