2003 Rodeo New Car Test Drive
Isuzu Rodeo offers a lightweight V6 engine, push-button four-wheel drive, sturdy construction and lots of cargo space. It combines handsome looks, a confident feel, and nimble highway manners on the road, with reasonably good capability off road.
Its dual-mode semi-active suspension system continuously adjusts to provide better handling and stability, while its drive-by-wire throttle is designed to deliver improved response and efficiency. Its optional all-aluminum 3.2-liter V6 delivers 205 horsepower. Once known as the Amigo, the Isuzu Rodeo Sport is a spunky little two-door sport-utility vehicle that comes in hard and soft-top versions.
The Rodeo Sport should enjoy a slight performance advantage over the four-door Rodeo on and off the road, thanks to its shorter wheelbase and lighter weight. It is, after all, simply the Amigo by another name, with the same short, stout body and semi-convertible soft top; the same rugged four-wheel drive and optional V6 power. And yes, a glass-window hard top is still available for travelers who want more weather protection than the soft-top affords.
The Rodeo is available in three trim levels: S, LS, and LSE. It comes with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Two engines are available: a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower is available only in 2WD S models. The 3.2-liter V6 comes standard on LS and LSE models and is available as an option on the S model.
A four-speed automatic transmission comes standard on LS and LSE. The S model comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and optional with the automatic.
Standard equipment on even the basic Rodeo S ($18,380) includes speed-sensitive power steering, four-wheel antilock brakes, dual air bags, tinted glass, remote keyless entry, cargo convenience net, AM/FM/cassette stereo and skid plates under the radiator and fuel tank.
The V6 version ($21,265) adds anti-lock brakes, cruise control, a tilt steering column. 4WD versions ($24,695) add rear-wheel disc brakes, shift-on-the-fly transfer case and skid plate.
LS 2WD ($25,085) models add power mirrors, variable speed intermittent windshield wipers, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, an in-dash 6-CD changer, retractable cargo cover, remote keyless entry, theft alarm, color-keyed carpeted floor mats, and a useful power outlet in the cargo area by the back door.
LS 4WD ($27,745) models also get a limited-slip rear differential.
Luxurious LSE 2WD ($29,295) and LSE 4WD ($31,730) come with fog lights, wood grain interior, heated power mirrors, power moonroof with sunshade, power reclining front seats, leather seating surfaces and Isuzu's Intelligent Suspension Control system.
Isuzu also offers an array of comfort, appearance, and preferred equipment packages. New for 2002 is the Chrome Package for the LS 4WD ($1,815) that includes 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, chrome tube side steps, chrome taillight trim and dual-mode intelligent suspension control.
Again for 2002, Rodeo comes with a generous 10-year/120,000 mile powertrain warranty, covering defects in materials or workmanship in the engine, transmission, suspension, steering assembly, and axles. It does not cover routine maintenance or adjustments. The basic warranty is still 3 years/50,000 miles, with 6 year/100,000 mile corrosion protection. The Rodeo Sport comes in two-wheel-drive and two four-wheel-drive versions. 4WD versions have automatic transmissions.
The base 2WD Rodeo Sport comes with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and a hard top for $16,100. The soft top version is $16,375. Add an automatic transmission and the hard top with a four-cylinder engine starts at $17,100.
Insert a 3.2-liter V6 engine and automatic transmission into the 2WD Rodeo Sport and the price is $19,295 for the hard top and $19,570 for the soft top.
The list of standard equipment is generous, but air conditioning costs $1,000 as a stand-alone option. The Preferred Equipment Package for V6 models ($2,320) includes air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, floor mats, remote keyless entry, a six-CD changer, cargo convenience net, front door courtesy lights, dual horns and a cargo tray.
For 2002, all Rodeo Sports come standard with alloy wheels.