New Car Review

1998 ISUZU RODEO LS 4X4

by Matt/Bob Hagin

isuzu

SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,910
Price As Tested                                    $ 31,480
Engine Type                DOHC 4-Valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 193 cid/3165 cc
Horsepower                                   205 @ 5400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               214 @ 3000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.4"/70.4"/183.4"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3934 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P245/70R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 55 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            16/20/17
0-60 MPH                                        9.5 seconds
Towing capacity                                 4500 pounds
Top speed                                           110 mph
   * Multi-point fuel injection

(The current trend towards sport/utility vehicles churns on and the all-new Isuzu Rodeo exemplifies a push to get the SUV image off dirt roads and onto urban boulevards, according to Bob Hagin. His son Matt says that the modern SUV is the thinking person's family car.)

BOB - This is the third sport/utility vehicle in a row that we've tested, Matt. But I guess that it's inevitable since almost every auto maker in the world is getting into the game. They're even producing mini versions that are intended strictly for tiny-boppers on city streets. I was a little disturbed to find that the Isuzu Rodeo that packs the little 2.2 liter four-banger isn't even offered with four-wheel drive.

MATT - If it's any consolation, Dad, not very many Isuzu buyers go for the four-cylinder version. It's a pretty sophisticated Australian- built twin-cam unit but at 2.2 liters and 129 horsepower, the engine is a little weak for the 4000-pound Rodeo. The four only comes with the five-speed transmission and it's a pretty good choice for "wanna-be" off-road posers who don't use the fire roads of Montana or face the ice and snow of Vermont in the winter. The V6 version is another story. Its an all-new, all-aluminum twin-cam 3.2 liter unit that puts out 205 horses, which is a boost of about 15 percent over the old model and the total weight of the new Rodeo is down by almost 300 pounds. It's offered as a 4X2 or a 4X4 and in either standard S trim or the fancier LS version. For my tastes, the V6 is the way to go in a new Rodeo.

BOB - The rest of the Rodeo is also all-new. The chassis is still a full-frame ladder unit with a half-dozen crossmembers but the antiquated rear cart springs have been jettisoned in favor of a pair of coils and a multi-link system of bars to hold the solid axle in place. The chassis is a couple of inches shorter than before and there's room for the spare tire under the rear section thanks to the suspension changes. The new Rodeo is a little wider, too, which indicates that it's aimed at Americans since the rest of the world likes a narrower track on SUVs. The body is completely revised and is a bit longer and wider, with softer curves which makes it more aerodynamic. Isuzu went to great lengths to make the new version quieter and the more slippery shape helps a lot, I'm told. Even the engine fan has been changed to electric power to get away from the roar that accompanied the engagement of the old viscous model. The S version comes with 6.5-by-15-inch steel wheels, while those on the LS are aluminum and a half-inch wider and one inch taller. There's a couple of tires sizes available but the primo version is a P245/70R16 all-weather unit that's at home on or off the road. This new slick version of the Rodeo comes only as a four-door, which seems to be the modern trend in sport/utility vehicles.

MATT - The interior is also all-new. The round basic instruments are laid out in a half-moon pod in front of the steering wheel with a tach and speedometer that are equal in size flanked by smaller temp and fuel gauges. There's an in-dash CD changer that can hold six discs at a time, and the interior comfort controls are now knobs rather than levers. The back seat is a couple of inches wider than the old version, which really helps when it comes time to moves five adults farther than across town. And the four cup holders have been enlarged to hold todays full-sized soda-pop bottles.

BOB - That's really a technological breakthrough, Matt. Maybe one of the buff magazines will make the Rodeo "Truck of the Year" because of it, but I think our readers are lots more interested in the fact that Isuzu has sold more than a quarter of a million Rodeos since the model came out in '90 as a '91 model. The Rodeo isn't an orphan either since there are nearly 600 Isuzu dealers coast to coast. Besides the "regular" warranty, the company offers a 24-hour/60,000-mile roadside assistance program just in case something goes wrong, even out in the remote desert highways.

MATT - That isn't something that you'd need to worry about, Dad. I don't think you've driven much past the post office in a while. But if the post office parking lot floods, you'll be set in the Rodeo.

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