The Rodeo is Isuzu’s compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). It has been redesigned for 1998, and this new face in the sport utility vehicle market is commanding its share of attention this year. The revised Rodeo looks to tap into the Ford Explorer’s sales success by offering a winning combination of style, more power, and more room. The basic Isuzu Rodeo is a two-wheel drive with a rather basic and humble 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine generating only 130 horsepower. After a number of gripes and complaints as to how such minimal horsepower can effectively pull a nearly 3500 pound vehicle, Isuzu has added the option of stepping up to a 3.2-liter V-6 engine generating 205 horsepower. It's available as an S and LS trim. Buyers can choose between a hatchback that lifts open and a hatch-gate with flip-up glass and a swinging right to left tailgate.
Body styles: compact SUV
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder, 3.2-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Isuzu Rodeo S 2WD, Rodeo S V-6 2WD, Rodeo S V-6 4WD, Rodeo LS 2WD, Rodeo LS 4WD
The 1998 Isuzu Rodeo underwent a complete top-to-bottom update for 1998. This revision includes an exterior style makeover, an interior update, the option of V-6 power, and extra space to accommodate passengers and cargo.
The 1998 Isuzu Rodeo’s new exterior makeover isn’t drastic. The redesign maintains a familiar look, while being contemporary and modern at the same time. The end result of the redesign is now one of the more ruggedly handsome SUVs on the market. It has a tough stance thanks to its classic egg-crate grille, flared fenders, and short length. A smooth sloping backlight adds some aesthetic refinement as well. All Rodeo trims ride a 106.4-inch wheelbase. The four-wheel-drive LS comes standard with 16-inch wheels but the other trims have standard 15-inch wheels. Each trim comes standard with rack and pinion steering and independent front suspension.
The 1998 Isuzu Rodeo's new interior provides excellent ergonomics and an awesome steering wheel design. Front and back seats are comfortable but the lack of height and tilt adjustment can make the flat seats somewhat unbearable on longer drives. The dashboard has a modern design and a stylish grainy texture that convincingly masks the fact that it is built with a rather cheap plastic. The climate controls are rigid rotary switches that are fairly easy to access and operate, but they are placed above the radio, which is somewhat awkward. The placement of those controls isn’t anywhere near as absurd as the placement of the four-wheel-drive switch. This push button switch is located beside the cruse control button, making it quite easy to accidentally activate, although it doesn’t kick on until speed is taken below 60 mph. Interior storage is respectable with accommodating cup holders capable of holding sizable cups and bottles. As a whole, despite the above-mentioned imperfections, the interior upgrade has made it much more spacious on the inside. There is much more of a roomier feel and it can accommodate up to five occupants. The cargo and trunk space is also great. There is even a cargo cover to protect or conceal cargo being transported.
Performance & Handling
The 1998 Isuzu Rodeo is somewhat snippy when the engine is first revved but quiets at highway speeds. The internal noise when first accelerated can be an irritant to some drivers and passengers. Power can come and go thanks to both engines’ double overhead-cam design but its off-the-line performance is adequate for typical hauling. Response on corners is quite respectable with minimal body lean. Braking is quite good with no drama. Just be mindful that the two-wheel drive models get front disc/rear drum brakes, while the LS model has four-wheel disc brakes.
The 1998 Isuzu Rodeo comes standard with a four-wheel anti-lock braking system and driver and passenger front airbags. It receives four-stars in NHTSA passenger-side frontal crash-tests and three-stars in driver-side frontal crash-tests.
EPA Fuel Economy
Isuzu Rodeo: 19/22 mpg city/highway
- Roomy interior
- V-6 power/torque
- Off-road capability
- Carrying capability
You Won't Like
- Disconnected steering
- Awkward placement for four-wheel drive push-in button
- Lack of adjustable seats
Truck and car combined.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Blazer
- GMC Jimmy
- Jeep Grand Cherokee