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In 1984 a gallon of gasoline cost $1.10, and the average price for a movie ticket was $2.50. The world celebrated the centennial of the automobile invented by Carl Benz. And Isuzu Truck decided to take on the North American market.   

“We are celebrating the 35th anniversary of Isuzu trucks in the North American market this year, and what better way to mark the occasion than to expand our lineup,” said Shaun Skinner, president of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada. “We’re thrilled to bring the convenience and low cost of ownership of our N-Series gasoline truck to Class 5 and a whole new group of customers.” 

Celebrating 35 Years in North America

Isuzu Truck of America, Inc. was founded March 21, 1984, and the first Isuzu truck arrived in the United States in November of that year. The KS22 model had no tilt cab and was powered by an 87-horsepower engine.
“With increasing needs for a low-cab forward (LCF) designed vehicle in a growing commercial truck market in the U.S. Isuzu had entered the passenger SUV market a few years prior, and many dealers and customers were requesting Isuzu bring the KS22 to the U.S. market,” said Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing for ICTA.

In typical fashion, Isuzu studied the U.S. market to ensure they were bringing the right truck for American needs. 

“In the fall of 1984, Isuzu brought the Isuzu KS22 with tremendous success,” Tabel added.

Isuzu Trucks in 2020

Now 35 years after entering the U.S. market, the current Isuzu lineup includes Class 3 through Class 6 models. Powerplants include diesel and gasoline choices as well as the first compressed natural gas (CNG)- and liquified propane gas (LPG)-capable engine offered in a low-cab forward truck. The full lineup available for the 2020 model-year includes: 

● NPR Gas. The Class 3 truck features a GVWR of 12,000 pounds and a 109- to 176-inch wheelbase for body lengths up to 20 feet. Powered by the Vortec 6.0L V-8 gasoline engine. 

● NPR-HD Gas/Diesel. The Class 4 truck features a GVWR of 14,500 pounds and a 109- to 176-inch wheelbase for body lengths up to 20 feet. Offered in gasoline or diesel models.

● NPR-XD. The Class 4 truck features a GVWR of 16,000 pounds and a 109- to 176-inch wheelbase with body lengths up to 20 feet. Powered by the 5.2L 4HK1-TC turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. 

● NQR. The Class 5 truck features a GVWR of 17,950 pounds and a 109- to 200-inch wheelbase with body lengths up to 22 feet. Powered by the 5.2L 4HK1-TC turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. 

● NRR. The Class 5 truck features a GVWR of 19,500 pounds and a 109- to 212-inch wheelbase with body lengths up to 24 feet. Powered by the 5.2L 4HK1-TC turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. 

● FTR. The Class 6 truck features a GVWR of 25,950 pounds and a 152- to 248-inch wheelbase with body lengths up to 30 feet. Powered by the 5.2L 4HK1-TC turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. 

The KS22 was quickly embraced by American truck buyers who were looking for durability, dependability, and low cost of ownership in a medium-duty truck. 

In 1986, a little over a year after its stateside launch, Isuzu became the bestselling low-cab-forward truck (LCF) in the U.S., a position Tabel is quite proud of and that the truck maker has maintained ever since.

Today, Isuzu trucks have 73% of the Class 3-5 U.S. LCF truck market. 

Class 5 Trucks & Lineup Updates

During its anniversary year, the truck maker launched two new Class 5 models for the 2020 model-year: The NQR Gas (with a target GVWR of 17,950 pounds) and the NRR Gas (with a target GVWR of 19,500 pounds). 

Both trucks will be powered by a General Motors 6.0L Vortec V-8 supplied by PSI and mated to an Allison 1000 RDS transmission with power take-off (PTO) gear. 

Production is expected to begin in mid-2020. In addition to the Class 5 gasoline trucks, Isuzu announced several refinements to its returning lineup of diesel- and gasoline-powered trucks, including new driver-assistance and audio options for all models.

Additionally, all 2019-MY and newer trucks come with Oil Coverage, which provides oil coverage and some maintenance for the first 24 months/30,000 miles (gasoline models) or 24 months/60,000 miles (diesel models), whichever comes first. 

All Isuzu N-Series will also offer new backup and camera options. Parking is more precise thanks to the camera’s 131-degree horizontal viewing angle and 103-degree vertical viewing angle. 

The base NPR Diesel and Reach models have been discontinued. 

The Isuzu FTR was named Work Truck's Medium-Duty Truck of the Year in 2018.
 - Photo: ICTA

The Isuzu FTR was named Work Truck's Medium-Duty Truck of the Year in 2018.

Photo: ICTA

Highlights of Isuzu Truck Heritage

While Isuzu first entered the U.S. market in 1986, the company’s complete history starting in Japan goes back almost a century. A few highlights from Isuzu’s history include:

1922: Isuzu was Japan’s first domestically produced automobile.

1956: Isuzu diesel engines, diesel-powered snow tractors, and other equipment are delivered to Japan’s Antarctic Observation Base. Isuzu equipment has been operational at the South Pole ever since.

1959: Isuzu Motors Limited introduces the world’s first 2-ton light-duty forward-control truck, the first generation of a line of vehicles now marketed in the United States as the N-Series.

1984: Isuzu trucks enter the U.S. market with the KS22.

1986: R.L. Polk certifies that Isuzu is the bestselling import commercial truck in the United States. 

1988: The 2-millionth N-Series truck rolls off the assembly line in Japan.

1994: The first U.S.-built gasoline-powered NPR-EFI is assembled in Janesville, Wis. 

2002: Cumulative sales of Isuzu trucks in the United States exceed 275,000 units. 

2005: The 50,000th N/W-Series gasoline-powered truck is built in Janesville, Wis.

2010: Isuzu N-Series Trucks are the first medium-duty low-cab-forward trucks on the market to be EPA 2010, CARB HD-OBD compliant, and 50-state clean-idle certified. 

2011: Reach walk-in van powered by Isuzu begins production in Wakarusa, Ind.

2012 : Reach is named Medium-Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine. 

2013: Isuzu N-Series is named Medium-Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine. 

2015: Isuzu delivers its 500,000th Isuzu-built truck since entering the North American market. 

2016: Isuzu opens Center of Excellence in northeast Pennsylvania — a parts distribution, training, and technical assistance facility. 

2017: Second Isuzu Center of Excellence opens in Anaheim, Calif.; Production of all-new Class 6 Isuzu FTR begins. 

2018: Isuzu sells 23,914 Isuzu-brand trucks in the U.S., a new record; Isuzu FTR named Medium-Duty Truck of the Year by Work Truck magazine; The 50,000th N-Series gasoline-powered truck assembled by Spartan Motors rolls off the line in Charlotte, Mich.; Isuzu, in partnership with Nordresa, unveils prototype eNPR-HD all-electric truck. 

2019: Isuzu celebrates 35 years of Isuzu trucks in the North American market.

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