Isuzu Rodeo Sport

The Isuzu Rodeo Sport originally began life as the Isuzu Amigo before the Rodeo Sport nameplate was attached. The early 2000s were a time of change for the beleaguered automotive company. Declining sales led to the company to team up with GM for many of its vehicles. During this period, it changed the names of vehicles to slim down its offerings in North America.

The Amigo nameplate was changed to the Rodeo Sport in 2000. Only one generation of the Rodeo Sport was released before the line was discontinued in 2003 due to terrible sales; only 4990 units were sold in 2001. Isuzu pulled out of the U.S. market in 2009.

More on the Isuzu Rodeo Sport
About the Isuzu Rodeo Sport

The Isuzu Rodeo Sport is known as a cute, smaller sports utility vehicle (SUV) with an attractive design somewhat let down by the mechanics of the vehicle. For all of its outward attractiveness, the interior felt somewhat cheap. Not only that, but the inside was incredibly cramped as well, even for the driver.

The steering of the Rodeo Sport was too sloppy, especially for an SUV. For a small vehicle, engine noise was a big problem when revving the V-6. The suspension did little to handle bumps in the road, let alone any off-road driving you might be interested in.

Like so many Isuzu vehicles of this period, the mechanics and design of the car lagged behind the competition.

Isuzu Rodeo Sport Features

Only one generation of the Isuzu Rodeo Sport was made during its three-year run.

The Rodeo Sport was built on the same chassis as the Rodeo, but the chassis wasn’t nearly as long, and the Sport body was nine inches shorter than the four-door Rodeo. The Rodeo Sport came as a two-door hard-top or soft-top convertible.

The 2001 Rodeo Sport had a selection of engines. The 2.2-liter four-cylinder was available as a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic and produced 130 horsepower. A 3.2-liter V-6 version was available while that produced 205 horsepower. It was available on a two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive version with four-speed automatic. A V-6 convertible version of the vehicle was available as a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive version, including one engine controlled by a five-speed manual.

The 2002 Rodeo Sport was available with several different engines during its run. A 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine with a four speed automatic produced 130 horsepower at 4000 rpm and 144 lb-ft of torque. A 2.2-liter four-cylinder with a five-speed manual was also available with the same power as the four-speed. A 3.2-liter V-6 engine was available as it produced 205 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque, a big increase over the 2.2. It was available with a four-speed automatic in both a two-wheel and four-wheel drive version. A V-6 convertible version was also available.

A lot of options were dropped in the last year of the Rodeo Sport’s production. The vehicle was only available as a 2.2-liter four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. The standard V-6 was dropped in favor of the V-6 with four-speed automatic or a V-6 four-wheel drive with a five-speed manual transmission.

Isuzu Rodeo Sport Evolution

The Isuzu Rodeo Sport was one of the first midsize SUVs to truly marry the needs of the urban landscape with off-road capabilities. These vehicles were suitable for day-to-day use.

The second generation vehicles are better suited for today’s driver. It’s quieter on the inside with a reduced weight and better fuel economy. Unfortunately, even with updates to the Rodeo, it was still out-classed by the competitors. Perhaps this is the reason the Isuzu company left the U.S. market in 2008.

The Isuzu Rodeo Sport was discontinued in 2004. Since all production in the U.S. ceased in 2008, Isuzu enthusiasts stopped expecting a comeback for models like the Rodeo.

The interior of the vehicle was lacking in all kinds of luxury that was offered standard by the competitors of the time. A standard AM/FM radio with four speakers came on the base model, and the top of the line V-6 models only offered a single CD player as an upgrade. The cabin had reading lights and an interior cabin light. The top models had cruise control as well as controls on the steering wheel. The V-6 models also came with a tilt steering wheel, making the ride a bit more comfortable. Cloth bucket seats did not allow for a lot of adjustments unfortunately, seriously hindering the ride quality.

Hard-top versions of the vehicle had a removable glass sunroof or a removable top. The Rodeo Sport wasn’t the most user-friendly convertible on the market.

Fuel economy wasn’t terrible as the engine received 18/22 mpg city/highway in 2003.

Safety features on the vehicle were dismal, although four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) were available. Even the late models lacked proper airbags and tested poorly in the International Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests for offset frontal impact.

It is best to steer clear of the Rodeo Sport at all costs. Competitors have so much more to offer. It is no wonder Isuzu went the way of the dinosaur in the U.S. market.

Select an Isuzu Rodeo Sport Year

2003 Isuzu Rodeo Sport

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2002 Isuzu Rodeo Sport

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2002 Isuzu Rodeo Sport is affordable, sporty, and very off-road capable.

2001 Isuzu Rodeo Sport

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2001 Isuzu Rodeo Sport, in a way, starts new for 2001, as it carries a new name.