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SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide

1998 Isuzu Hombre XS Spacecab

by John Heilig


ENGINE:            4.3-liter V-6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 175 hp @ 4,400 rpm/240 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:      17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, 18.7 mpg test
WHEELBASE:         122.9 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    203.5 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    62.2 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     67.9 in.
CURB WEIGHT:       3,500 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:     18.5 gal.
MAXIMUM PAYLOAD:   1,154 lbs
TIRES:             P205/75R15 
INSTRUMENTS:       Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, 
                   water temperature, oil pressure, 
                   battery voltage, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:         Power windows, power door locks, 
                   power mirrors, cruise control, 
                   air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio 
                   with cassette, anti-lock braking, 
                   dual air bags.
STICKER PRICE:     $18,749

You get the strange feeling when you're driving the Isuzu Hombre that you're driving a Chevrolet S-10 pickup. That's because you are driving an S-10 pickup. Only the labels have been changed to protect the innocent.

Hombre is built by Chevrolet in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is in trade for the old Geo Storm, which was built by Isuzu for Chevy. It's a good partnership. It gives Isuzu a larger truck than their compact pickups. and since the company is now solely truck oriented, it helps to have this partnership.

Isuzu is united with several other manufacturers in joint partnerships. For example, Isuzu and Subaru build the Subaru Legacy in Lafayette, Indiana. It builds sport utilities for Honda in exchange for a minivan. So Isuzu and GM both have working agreements with other companies all over the globe. I just wish they'd come back with something like the Geo Storm.

Since it is the S-10 pickup, the Hombre has all the attributes of a Chevrolet. It is powered by the Vortec 4.3-liter V-6 (although it isn't called that) that delivers a serious 175 horsepower. This engine is connected to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic gearbox with a column-mounted shifter. Four-wheel drive is available, but our tester was the two-wheel drive version.

Our Hombre XS had an extended cab without Chevrolet's third door. As such it was more of a traditional extended cab pickup than a "modern" extended cab with the easy access third doors that provide entry to the rear seat. There are two seats in the rear that flip down from the sides. In the stowed position there is plenty of carrying capacity back there to add to the carrying capacity in the bed.

Front seats were individual buckets with a fold-down armrest that creates the individuality. You can fold up the armrest and put a third passenger in the middle of the front seat. There is a cupholder on the floor though (ours was broken) that would get in the way of that passenger's legs.

Instrumentation was complete. One feature I like about trucks as opposed to cars is that you customarily get a full complement of instruments to let you know what's going on in the engine. Cars, on the other hand, give you a basic speedometer, fuel gauge and water temperature gauge. If you're lucky, you may get a tachometer added. There was also a green light on the dash that indicated the daytime running lights were working.

One confusing feature of the DRLs was that they acted like twilight sentinel lights, event though they weren't listed as an option. The DRLs also illuminated the instrument panel, so that at night you had the full set of lights. there didn't appear to be that much difference between the intensity of the DRLs and normal headlights, either.

We had a very good HVAC system in the Hombre that handled some strange early August weather that saw the thermometer in the 90s during the day and cool off quite a bit at night.

On the road, the Hombre can hold its own with anything. The V-6 has enough power to spin the wheels on dry pavement in most situations. Acceleration is good and top speed is limited only by what the ambient traffic and gendarmes will allow. There are dual air bags, which is a nice safety feature, and a decent glove box.

In addition, there are two power outlets next to the lighter, so you can power up three appliances if you want.

One nice feature I discovered in my daily commute was the extra sun visor for both the driver and passenger. You can fold one visor over to cover the side window and still have a (slightly smaller) visor for the front window. This is convenient when you're making a lot of turns and don't have to keep switching the visor back and forth. And the normal visor has an extension that extends to touch the visor on the other side.

Since the Hombre is a Chevy S-10, it is designed for an American audience. American customers can do well with this vehicle and find it useful in size and performance.