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SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide

1996 ISUZU HOMBRE 2WD P/U

By Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 12,063
     Price As Tested                                    $ 13,353
     Engine Type                             2.2 Liter I4 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                  133cid/2189 cc
     Horsepower                                   118 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               130 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  108.3"/67.9"/189.0"
     Transmission                 Five speed manual transmission
     Curb Weight                                     2864 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/75R15
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Three-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 92 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            23/30/26          
     0-60 MPH                                       12.8 seconds
     Max payload                                     1200 pounds
     Max towing capacity                             2000 pounds
     * Sequential fuel injection

In yet another case of inter-car company reciprocity, Isuzu has scrapped its previous TF-series pickup and has teamed with General Motors to produce its new Hombre pickup. It's based on the Chevrolet/GMC S-10 model pickups, and is available initially as a 2WD, short-bed standard cab truck, in two simple trim levels.

This is not the first association between the two companies, however. Few may realize that in 1971, Chevrolet contracted with Isuzu to build its LUV mini-pickup, launching a new category of domestic haulers. During its life span, over 600,000 LUVs were produced. This week we test the XS version:

OUTSIDE - To individualize the Isuzu hauler, the new Hombre features distinctive bulging rear fenders, a pair of strengthening creases down the hood, and smoothed front fender lines. Other Hombre-only characteristics include the front fascia, grille, headlamps and its tailgate and tail lights. Isuzu has done it's homework and its consumer research indicates that this original styling will result in an overwhelmingly positive response from mini-truck shoppers. Inside the bed, tie-down loops makes securing cargo easy, while its sides are double-walled and feature two-tier loading levels. Our test model Hombre came with such standard features as twin outside mirrors, a rear step bumper, and a full-sized spare tire.

INSIDE - Hombre's interior remains basically the same as its clones with the exception of Isuzu-specific badging. Its interior reflects the rounded style of the exterior. Ergonomics are well thought out, with logical placement of all controls, and rotary knobs for ventilation and audio. Our test XS model has carpeting covering the floor, whereas Base Hombre models carry vinyl flooring. Other XS standards include a comfortable 60/40 split bench seat with a folding center armrest, four-speaker AM/FM stereo, and a tachometer. Options on our test truck were air conditioning, a cassette player, and a sliding rear window.

ON THE ROAD - Even though Isuzu is one of the world's largest truck makers, by using an existing platform Isuzu was able to make a quick and relatively painless re-entry onto the U.S. truck market. Hombre power comes from a proven source. Its 2.2 liter inline four-cylinder engine produces 118 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. While this may not excite the power-hungry truck buyer, its power is certainly adequate for light-duty hauling and personal tasks. We did find, however, that after lengthy trips on the freeway, its drone became tiresome, but when it came time to fill the tank, we greatly appreciated its 23/30 city/highway miles per gallon. All Hombre models come initially with a five-speed manual transmission, while other powertrain options may become available based on what the truck market dictates. We'd eventually like to see Hombre with a Vortec V6 and an automatic, and maybe an extended cab model with the new handy third door on the side.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - By building Hombre in Shreveport, Louisiana, Isuzu was able to bypass certain penalties of tariff, and is less affected by the rapidly fluctuating Japanese currency. Hombre's chassis is comprised of a box-sectioned ladder-type frame with four crossmembers, the formula for an extremely stiff, rugged construction. Its front suspension is independent, with upper and lower A-arms, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. At the rear is a solid axle supported by two-stage, elliptical leaf springs. This allows up to 1200 pounds to be loaded in back, although this number is relegated to a stripped-down Base model, so payload is slightly reduced with optional equipment. The brake system uses disc front and rear drum brakes, with a standard four- wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS). Hombre's warranty includes 36 months or 50,000 miles of basic coverage; a 60-month/60,000 limited powertrain warranty, and 72 months/100,000 miles corrosion protection.

SAFETY - All Hombre models have a driver's-side airbag and ABS, plus daytime running headlamps, side-impact beams and three-way seat belts.

OPTIONS - The cassette player added $135, the a/c system another $835 and the perquisite sliding back window was $125.

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