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ISUZU RODEO LS FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE

by: BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO:Isuzu Buyer's Guide

What can be more American than a Rodeo! Even though this one bears an import nameplate, the Isuzu Rodeo is assembled in Indiana and contains over 70 percent domestic content. Not only has it become Isuzu's best selling model, the Rodeo is currently the best selling import brand name sports utility vehicle in America.

About ten years ago Isuzu got its start in the sports utility vehicle business when it brought the original Trooper II over here. In a short time this two-door, four-cylinder, two and four-wheel drive multi- purpose unit evolved into a full-powered, fully equipped, four-door V- 6. In the mid-eighties Isuzu realized that the less expensive end of this market could use a new model, and it began developing the slightly smaller Rodeo. It was specifically designed to be constructed and sold in this country. It is assembled in the joint venture Subaru-Isuzu plant in Indiana, where the first Rodeos debuted in 1990.

To give it greater performance and appeal for 1993, Isuzu installed a new and improved V-6 in the Rodeo. It replaced the aging GM-built 2.8 liter, 120 horsepower, pushrod V-6, with a 24-valve, multi- port fuel injected, overhead cam V-6 of its own design and manufacture that displaces 3.2 liters, develops 175 horsepower and offers slightly better fuel economy.

APPEARANCE: The four-door Rodeo LS looks sturdy but boxy and stands tall. Its two-tone paint scheme is bisected by a body side crease, while its flared wheel wells are outlined in bright trim. Large 31x10.5 R15 all-season Goodyear Wrangler AT tires are mounted on shiny phone-dial type alloy wheels. An adjustable roof rack adorns the high top, as does a tilt sun-roof. Truck-style side mirrors and mud flaps, plus the rear tail-gate/lift window combo and swing-away tire carrier hint at its ruggedness and versatility, while its unique rear side window design increase its already excellent vision.

COMFORT: The deluxe LS is easy to enter, and has quite comfortable and supportive velour covered manually adjustable seats up front, and a fold down split bench seat in back. Power locks, windows, cruise control and the rear wiper/defogger are standard, but the side mirrors must be set by hand. A very low on the console AM/FM/cassette system provides average fidelity and selectivity, while the heater/air conditioner manages to keep the large cabin comfortable in both hot and cold weather. Full carpeting, a cargo net and tie downs provide a wide variety of cargo carrying options.

ROADABILITY: This year the suspension has been recalibrated to provide a more compliant ride, and the LS offers four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, but only rear wheel anti-lock brakes. Around town the Rodeo rides almost like a car, and with its high seating that offers great vision in all quadrants. On back and twisty roads it handles more like a truck and exhibits some body lean. When fitted with the large optional Goodyear Wrangler AT 10.5 x 31 tires, a friction plate-type limited slip differential is part of the package, and together they provide excellent road hugging qualities when the going gets tough. Three-point seat belts are installed on all outboard seats. but a driver's air bag is not yet available.

PERFORMANCE: A new 3.2 liter, single overhead cam, 24-valve, multiport fuel injected V-6 now provides the Rodeo with the punch it lacked in the earlier models. The smooth-shifting four-speed automatic has a "power" and "drive" selector switch which allows the driver to select the shift range to suit local driving conditions. There's also a "winter start" setting which holds the transmission in third gear to limit wheel spin on slippery surfaces. The part-time four-wheel drive unit is controlled by a manual shift lever, and has hubs that lock automatically. This viable combination provides the '93 Rodeo with the performance potential to competently handle the wide variety of assignments expected of an SUV.

SUGGESTIONS: For safety move radio and CD player higher up on console. Add power to the side mirrors for adjustment while driving. Add side rub strip and lower body cladding for paint protection. ECONOMY: EPA ratings are 16 city/19 highway. I averaged 17.3 miles per gallon.

CONCLUSIONS: The Rodeo four-wheel drive LS is "made with pride in Indiana". It combines the practicality of a four-door sedan with the ruggedness of four-wheel drive and can tow up to 3500 pounds.

PRICE AS TESTED: $25,173 including air conditioning, wheel package, sunroof and CD player.

BASE PRICE: $ 22,099 with automatic transmission and complete LS package.

SPECIFICATIONS:
ISUZU RODEO LS FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE

           
           Base Price              $ 22,099    
           Price as tested         $ 25,173
           Engine Type             V-6. sohc - 24v, mpfi
           Engine Size             3.2 liter/193 cid
           Horsepower              175 @ 5200
           Torque (ft/lbs)         188 @ 4000
           Wheelbase/Length        109"/176"
           Transmission            4x4, four-speed auto w/od
           Curb Weight             4120
           Pounds per Horsepower   24
           Fuel Capacity           20
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (89 oct)
           Tires                   Goodyear Wrangler  AT  10.5 x 31
           Brakes                  rear anti-lock standard  disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/rear drive     plus 4x4
           
                        PERFORMANCE
           
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed   16/19/17.3
           0 to 60 mph               10.4 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)             17.8 sec
           Coefficient of Drag (Cd)  .42  

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