The 1996 Isuzu Rodeo is one of the few all-original models that Isuzu makes now that they’ve entered into partnerships with GMC and Honda. The 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine is a disaster, but the 3.2-liter V-6 is a solid engine. It also provides a decent highway ride and quite capable off-roading. The new year doesn’t see much in the way of updates, but it's all much needed. The horsepower output of the V-6 engine has been raised, all models can now be equipped with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive is also now available.
Engines: 2.6-liter four-cylinder, 3.2-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Isuzu Rodeo S, Isuzu Rodeo LS
The 1996 Isuzu Rodeo upgrades to the V-6 engines that provides an additional 15 horsepower. All models can now be equipped with four-wheel anti-lock brakes. The four-wheel-drive models are now equipped with a shift-on-the-fly system that allows to be switched between two- and four-wheel drive at speeds up to 60 mph. Finally, the wheels and the rear tire cover have been restyled.
The outside of the 1996 Isuzu Rodeo is unique and easy to pick out on the road. It’s angular and stands fairly tall for a small sport utility vehicle. The wheel track has been widened, but it still looks fairly skinny from the front. Meanwhile, the height of the cabin and the interior headroom is clear from the outside.
The 1996 Isuzu Rodeo comes with plenty of room for five passengers and cargo. Thanks to the recent partnerships with Honda, Isuzu redesigned the dashboard to be wide, organic, and sweeping, and much more ergonomic than the previous version. There is a bit of an issue with road noise on the interior, and due to the high roof and plenty of glass, driver visibility is great.
Performance & Handling
The 1996 Isuzu Rodeo comes with two types of engines available. However, the 2.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine is anemic and nearly useless. It manages to pull less horsepower and less torque out of a larger engine than is found in its Jeep Cherokee competition. Meanwhile, it's more expensive, has worse fuel economy, and has the power of a vehicle that weighs 800 pounds more. Additionally, four-wheel drive or an automatic transmission is not available with the four-cylinder engine. Moreover, it's equipped with the four-cylinder engine that's possibly the least impressive sport utility vehicle on the market in terms of on- or off-road performance.
Conversely, the 1996 Isuzu Rodeo with the 3.2-liter V-6 performs admirably. With a revised engine that puts out 190 horsepower, it has towing capability that is more than twice what the four-cylinder provides. The automatic transmission is available with the V-6, and it comes with two extra modes, Power and Winter, to allow for versatility in different conditions that supplies more torque when needed. The suspension is great for off-road work and is still pleasant on the highway.
The 1996 Isuzu Rodeo comes with driver and passenger front airbags and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard equipment across the model line. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave four out of five stars for driver crash test protection and three out of five for passenger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave a ?poor? rating overall. It did receive ?good? ratings for head, neck, and chest protection, but got a ?poor? for all other categories.
EPA Fuel Economy
Isuzu Rodeo: 14/17 mpg city/highway
- Durable and reliable
- Great off-road capabilities
You Won't Like
- Poor gas mileage
- The 2.6-liter engine
Comfortable on the road and rugged off of it.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Toyota 4Runner
- Jeep Cherokee