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New Car/Review


by Tom Hagin


SEE ALSO: Izuzu Buyer's Guide

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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


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.