Isuzu Rodeo Research

The Car Connection Isuzu Rodeo Overview

The Isuzu Rodeo was a compact sport-utility vehicle from small Japanese maker Isuzu, whose market share dwindled for years until it finally left the U.S. auto market in 2009. The Rodeo was launched in 1991 as a four-door sport-utility vehicle somewhat in the vein of the original Jeep Cherokee; a second generation arrived in 1998 and lasted through 2004, though supplies lingered at dealers for as much as two more years while the Isuzu brand dwindled.

While the Isuzu name is now fading from the auto market, the first-generation Rodeo can also be seen under an alternative name: Honda Passport. Before Honda designed and launched its own Pilot crossover for 2003, it re-badged the truck-based Rodeo into the Passport to give its dealers an entry in the fast-growing market for SUVs. The Passport lasted through two Rodeo generations, from 1994 through 2002.

The first-generation Isuzu Rodeo was offered with a 119-horsepower 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with a five-speed manual gearbox, or a GM-built 3.1-liter V-6 with the same 119 hp but more torque--and an available four-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive was standard, and all-wheel drive could be ordered as an option. In 1993, the GM V-6 was replaced with Isuzu's own 3.2-liter V-6, with a considerably higher power output of 174 hp--which rose to 194 hp in 1996. Though many buyers didn't realize it at the time, the Isuzu Rodeo was built in Indiana, in a plant Isuzu shared at the time with Subaru.

The second generation Rodeo, while still truck-based, was more refined and came with more safety and comfort features than its predecessor. The four-door sport-utility vehicle came standard with a 205-hp 3.2-liter V-6, matched with a five-speed manual gearbox on base versions though an automatic transmission was standard on the high-end LSE trim level. Adjustable suspension was optional in the new Rodeo, and standard 16-inch wheels were fitted to all versions. In 2004, a face-lifted model could be ordered with a 250-hp 3.5-liter V-6, paired only with an automatic transmission.

A two-door version of the four-door Rodeo was sold from 1990 through 1994 as the Isuzu Amigo. That name returned again in 1998 as a variant of the second-generation Rodeo, with a soft top over its rear compartment. Because of its weight--3,500 pounds and up--most second-generation Amigos were fitted with a 205-hp 3.2-liter V-6, though a few were built with a 130-hp 2.2-liter four. That vehicle was renamed the Rodeo Sport in 2001. But with two-door SUVs losing popularity and crossovers emerging as the preferred choice for families, the two-door Rodeo Sport was again withdrawn from the market after 2003.

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