Isuzu Rodeo

In the early 1990s, the off-road sport utility vehicle (SUV) was a rare breed, even though it’s so ubiquitous today. The Isuzu Rodeo was one of the best examples of the midsize SUV that came out of the time. While the Rodeo was introduced in 1991, it met its demise in 2004.

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About the Isuzu Rodeo

The Isuzu Rodeo 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 2009.

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

Isuzu Rodeo Features

The lower weight of the Isuzu Rodeo was a great advantage to the engine and safety equipment. A standard 2.2-liter engine was installed on the base S trim line. The 2.2-liter had an inline-four cylinder that produced 129 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque. The weak engine was not a selling point for many buyers and reviewers. The engine was available with a five-speed manual transmission. No other options were available. A 3.2-liter engine was available as an option for the S trim line and came standard on the LS and LSE trim lines. The V-6 was a major improvement, producing 205 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed manual was offered alongside a four-speed automatic transmission. Rear drive and four-wheel versions were available. The four-wheel was only available with the V-6 engine option.

The base model didn’t have much to offer in way of luxury. A weak air-conditioning system was the big thrill. The LS and LSE models had options such as alloy wheels, tilt steering, moon roof, keyless entry, leather, and a six-speaker CD system.

Big changes were in store for the Rodeo in 2000. Over 200 changes were made to the body and interior to update the vehicle and bring it up to current standards. Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) was added for better stability and maneuverability. The ISC system was able to select 17 different suspension settings, according to different road conditions. An Ironman LS package was available that offered alloy wheels, the ISC system, and special sport decals. There was also a two-door sport model sold between 2001 and 2003.

Isuzu Rodeo Evolution

The first generation Rodeo was introduced in 1991. It was originally available in both rear drive and four-wheel drive. The first models were available with a 2.6-liter inline-four cylinder, and a 3.1-liter V-6 engine that both produced 120 horsepower. The advantage of the V-6 was the 30 extra lb-ft of torque produced, giving the Rodeo more power when it was off road or towing. In 1993, the V-6 engine was upgraded so that it produced 175 horsepower. Unfortunately, the 2.6-liter engine remained unchanged throughout the first run.

The original Rodeo vehicles had a slew of safety issues. It received terrible crash scores. Anti-lock brakes were rear wheel only until 1995, when four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) were installed. Front airbags were installed in 1995 as well as part of a dashboard redesign.

In 1996, the Rodeo V-6 engine received another power boost to 190 horsepower. The V-6 also received shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive.

The second generation Rodeo was introduced in 1998. The exterior design was pretty much the same, except the spare tire attached to the hatch and the weight of the vehicle dropped significantly.

The second generation Rodeo, especially the sport models, was one of the best SUVs available on the market at the time. Unfortunately, small changes made during the run weren’t enough to keep the Isuzu Rodeo competitive with the other SUVs on the market.

The Rodeo may seem like a decent vehicle in the short term, but long-term deployment of the vehicle shows its weaknesses: shoddy build, all sorts of short-circuits, and breakdowns are common. The cheap plastic of the interior also tends to break far too often. The Rodeo has all the problems of an SUV as well, including the poor fuel economy and rough suspension. The vehicle can’t even tow.

The Rodeo is quite spacious on the inside and, at one time, felt a bit luxurious, but the vehicle hasn’t held up over the last couple of years.

Select an Isuzu Rodeo Year

2004 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2003 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2002 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2002 Isuzu Rodeo is an SUV that offers a big warranty and streamlined styling.

2001 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2001 Isuzu Rodeo makes a good option for drivers who want the features of a midsize SUV—such as roominess, towing capacity, and strong off-road capabilities—without the price tag of the higher-end midsize SUV models.

2000 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2000 Isuzu Rodeo has been restyled and tweaked to be more competitive against the big boys.

1999 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1999 Isuzu Rodeo is a midsize SUV manufactured by Japan-based Isuzu motors.

1998 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Rodeo is Isuzu’s compact sport utility vehicle (SUV).

1997 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The Isuzu Rodeo is a rugged, off road-oriented sport utility vehicle (SUV) that focuses primarily on performance rather than comfort.

1996 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

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.

1995 Isuzu Rodeo

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1995 Isuzu Rodeo provides a rugged, offroad-oriented sport utility vehicle that focuses primarily on performance rather than comfort.