SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide< br>
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 24,240 Price As Tested $ 28,895 Engine Type DOHC 4-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI* 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 3955 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 PERFORMANCEM EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 16/20/17 0-60 MPH 10.5 seconds Payload N/A Towing capacity 4500 pounds * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
The Isuzu Rodeo has undergone a complete redesign for 1998. It has consistently been among the top three in compact SUV sales since it was introduced in 1991, and these new ideas applied to the same successful formula will keep it in the running for years to come.
Available in base S or upscale LS trim, Rodeo is one the most capable SUV on the road or off. We tested an S model - heavily equipped.
OUTSIDE - Rodeo uses one of the more traditional shapes on the SUV market. Its sharp edges and understated fender bulges give a somewhat rough-and-rugged look, though most of its time is spent on city streets, not in the backwoods. For 1998, the wheelbase is shorter by over two inches, and front and rear body overhangs are shorter. The track width is now wider as well, but Rodeo's overall size looks to be the same. The grille matches the color of the body, as do the bumpers. This year the spare tire makes big news - and for good reason. Rodeos of the past sat upright on the rear hatch using a huge mounting bar that was difficult to swing it open, and even more difficult to close due to its awkward but seemingly simple locking mechanism. Now two spare tire location choices are available: the spare can be mounted directly to the rear door, but with a simplified bracket, or underneath the rear floor.
INSIDE - Despite the shortened wheelbase, Rodeo's interior has expanded. Legroom, headroom and cargo space is increased, albeit slightly, but in a compact SUV, every bit of extra space is appreciated. New rotary knobs control the ventilation system, and the horn can be sounded by pushing anywhere in the center of the steering wheel. Room up front is good, with firm, supportive bucket seats. The rear seats are hard and flat, and are best suited to two riders. They can be folded flat, however, for maximum cargo space, or split 60/40, which comes in handy. The standard Rodeo model can be ordered with the bare essentials, though our test vehicle came equipped with such items as air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, tilt wheel and cruise control, remote entry, a rear cargo area cover and an uplevel CD stereo.
ON THE ROAD - Our Rodeo came with the optional 3.2 liter V6 engine with dual overhead camshafts and two-stage intake manifold runners. It is 18 pounds lighter than the engine it replaces, and features low- tension valve springs and lighter weight pistons to reduce power-robbing mass. The old 3.2 liter version produced 190 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque but the new unit has upped that to 205 horsepower and 214 lb-ft or torque. The extra power is very noticeable, especially off-the-line. Our trip to the mountains for a weekend of skiing showcased the new engine's skills. Prior Rodeos struggled to crawl over the 7000-foot mountain pass, requiring frequent downshifts to keep pace with traffic. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, though most V6 models will be equipped as ours was - with an optional four-speed automatic.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Rodeo still uses body-on-frame construction, a rugged system that is truck-based, along with front independent suspension and a solid rear axle. The front double wishbone suspension carries over from the old model, with torsion bar springing and an anti-roll bar, while the rear axle now rides on softer coil springs, instead of the leaf-type springs it's used since the beginning. The on-road ride is better than before, while its off-road prowess is as good or better than ever. And the previous model's recirculating-ball steering system has been replaced by a rack-and-pinion setup for more precise control. Four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are standard.
SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard.
OPTIONS - Preferred Equipment Package (S series V6 model): A/C; $950; uplevel stereo: $200; power windows, locks, mirrors: $810; remote entry: $200; tilt/cruise: $350; cargo cover/roof rack: $310; door lamps/center armrest pad: $80; intermittent wipers: $50; CD player $550; color-keyed bumpers: $100; cargo mat: $60; California emissions: $180; Sport Package: 16-inch alloy wheels/larger tires/limited slip rear differential/fog lights: $970; destination charge: $445.