Isuzu Rodeo Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

3.94/5 Average
473 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

Just about every automotive manufacturer produces a sport-utility vehicle today. But back in the early 1990s, there was only a sprinkling of truck-based, off-road vehicles to whet the appetites of those trendsetters who were ahead of their time in appreciating elevated seating heights and macho styling. The Isuzu Rodeo was one of these pioneers; a midsize SUV with ample room for five passengers and a comfy ride. Compared to more rough-and-tumble models from Jeep or Chevy, the Rodeo was much easier to live with on a day-to-day basis, and it quickly became a best-selling import SUV.

For the second-generation Rodeo, Isuzu concentrated on weight reduction, noise deadening, passenger comfort and improved on-road driving dynamics that all made the Rodeo a more livable daily driver. Thanks to a generous warranty, it was initially one of our top choices in the segment, but quickly found itself outclassed by newer competitors despite some minor updates.

Although a well-maintained used Isuzu Rodeo should satisfy shoppers on a tight budget, those willing to spend a bit more would be better served by more refined SUVs such as the Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner.

Most recent Isuzu Rodeo

The second-generation Isuzu Rodeo midsize SUV arrived in 1998 with the same basic shape of its successful predecessor. The spare tire was now attached directly to the hatch (rather than a separate swinging tire carrier), or it could be mounted under the truck for a cleaner tail end design. These two configurations also reduced weight, which was a key design goal for Isuzu's engineers. In total, 285 pounds were shaved off the Rodeo by reducing frame and engine weight, by switching to rack-and-pinion steering and by using a five-link rear suspension design.

This reduced the burden on the four- and six-cylinder engines, which despite going up in power, were hardly known for providing quick acceleration. The standard 2.2-liter inline-4 engine available on the base S model made an anemic 129 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque, and could only be coupled to a five-speed manual. The 3.2-liter V6 available on the S and standard on the LS and LSE produced 205 hp and 214 lb-ft and was mated to either the manual or a four-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive was standard with four-wheel drive being optional on all trim levels, but only with the V6.

The base S model with the four-cylinder engine was essentially a stripper (though antilock brakes were standard) with only a few options like air-conditioning available. Standard and optional equipment on upper trim levels included alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, full power accessories, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, keyless entry, moonroof, leather upholstery and a six-speaker stereo with cassette or CD player.

In 2000, the Isuzu Rodeo received more than 200 changes, including an aggressive styling refresh, updated seating and an optional Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) system that automatically selected one of 17 shock rebound and compression rates depending on road conditions. A new Ironman LS package included sunroof, alloy wheels, ISC, special decals and a Best of Black Sabbath album (wait, that's a different Ironman). A transferable 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain warranty also became standard in 2000 and a two-door Rodeo Sport model was sold from 2001 to 2003.

When that second-generation Rodeo debuted, we considered it one of the top midsize SUVs on the market. We were particularly impressed with its quality interior, silky V6 engine and roomy backseat. After a long-term test and two years later, however, we were no longer so enamored (quite the opposite, really) and thought that in general, recently introduced SUVs were much better choices than the Rodeo.

While the V6 and ample space continued to score points, our long-termer's three breakdowns, shoddy build quality and numerous electrical gremlins were simply unacceptable and we began to view the interior plastics as increasingly cheap compared to those in the newer competition. We also complained about the vehicle's paltry gas mileage, low towing capacity and rough-riding suspension.

Past Isuzu Rodeo models

The original Isuzu Rodeo was introduced for 1991. Like its replacement, it was available with four- and six-cylinder engines and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. With its long wheelbase, this Rodeo offered one of the best rides and largest backseats on the market.

Initially, both the 3.1-liter V6 and 2.6-liter inline-4 made only 120 hp. The V6 made 30 more lb-ft of torque, but its upgrade to 175 hp in 1993 was certainly welcome. The four-cylinder remained unchanged. Early Rodeos were also not very safe, receiving poor crash test scores and offering almost no safety equipment. Antilock brakes were standard, but were rear-wheel only with four-wheel ABS becoming an option in 1995. That year also saw front airbags added along with a redesigned dashboard courtesy of Honda, which rebadged the Rodeo as its Passport SUV a year previously. The only other significant changes for the Rodeo occurred in 1996 when Isuzu bumped the V6 up to 190 hp, added a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system and improved the vehicle's ride quality.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 473.00
  • Do Not Buy it - 1999 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    I have been having problems with the car right from the start. 1st yr, a side door wire short. Had to leave my car with the dealer for 4 days before they could figure it out. 2nd yr, the electric on the remote key entry got screwed up. 3rd yr, The problem with the wire short resurfaced, the dealer kept the car for 2 days, the car was out of warranty, left me with a bill for 500. 4th yr, an engine noise started dealer said, carbon build up in the engine, fuel light always on, another 350 bucks...rear axle seal rupture. Did the 60k servicing, out for 1500 bucks, engine noise persists. Last year itself I have spent 2500 for the car. FOOBARED DO NOT BUY.

  • satisfied - 2004 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    Just went over the 90k mile mark on my 04 Rodeo I purchased new almost 5 yrs ago (my 4th Isuzu since 88). Bought the extended warranty but never had to use it. Ive been extremely happy with this ride. No surprises (knock on wood). Still get over 20 mpg on trips and 15 mpg in town. With all the rebates, I keep my eye on new SUVs but really cant justify the expense as the equivalent value in todays market is just too steep. Id hate to unload this Rodeo, it still runs so well. Timely maintenance and an honest mechanic are key. I have no reservations about taking this Rodeo on long trips. I feel real fortunate to have owned this SUV, having a ride in the shop is no fun.

  • You can count on Isuzu - 2001 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    My Third Isuzu, other two were 94 and 89 Troopers. These things run without problems and low low maintainence.

  • 0% can hurt - 2001 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    Decent auto. Enjoyed the comfortable leather and smooth ride. Was disappointed when a body seam broke after only a couple months of driving, which created an annoying rattle. Had it fixed no problems, but everyone knows how inconvenient is it to have your vehicle in the shop. Overall, I really enjoyed the SUV. We realized upon purchase, but with the 0% they offered, we knew that overabundance of Rodeos, the resale would be terrible. We purchased an LSE with all the added extras (was featured in the KC, MO Autoshow, so it was souped-up) for around $29000. Traded it in 2.25 years later for $14,500. Amazingly, thats about $750 over KBB.

  • best in price range - 2003 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    ive owned domestic all my life.this time i bought time japanese and japanese ect.quality and reliablity is far superior...i was tired of bringing back my chev,ford to the dealer every other day.

  • Reliable - 2000 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    With a forward thinking grill design and overall body shape, this doesnt look like a 10 year old mid-sized SUV sitting in my driveway. Bought over a year ago, Ive put 30,000 miles on it...bringing the total to 161K. Major repair was a throttle body when idling issues appeared but has been running perfectly ever since. 200K shouldnt be a problem. Overall a really good purchase for a safe vehicle that me, the kids and the dog enjoy.

  • Rodeo LS - 2000 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    A fun to drive, dependable SUV. Enjoy driving, very comfortable and a great CD system. Very good exterior and interior finish. Same quality as the Honda that we traded in on the Rodeo. Very little maintenance has kept the operating cost low.

  • Isuzu Rodeo - 2002 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    I had this Rodeo 2000 LS 4x4 V6 3.2L manual since three years now, and 76,000 miles (mainly long rides on the hiways). They had to change some kind of bearings in the lower part of the engine, and I had to have the alternator replaced. Nothing else. But if you have this SUV, make sure you change the 4 original shocks for the Edelbrock hi-performer shocks. And make sure to verify the engine oil level frequently. It has been mostly reliable (for the price). Actually, for the price, it is a cute (exterior), roomy, and overall good SUV. But I didnt appreciate the cheap interior, especially the dash board material and the front seats confort.

  • Too bad Isuzu stopped making the Rodeo - 2000 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    I bought this new in 2000. It now has 125K miles and purs like a kitten. Feels the bumps in the road more than some other SUVs and thats because the Rodeo was built on a truck frame. I understood this when I bought it. The Rodeo came with a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty. Try to find that today. You may get a 5 year 100K mi but nobody wants to go 10 years. Other than the usual maintenance wear and tare stuff my Isuzu had been great. I think this year Ill replace the sound system and look for some new rims. It has great reaction and control and also great pick-up.

  • Disappointed - 2000 Isuzu Rodeo
    By -

    The ride is bumpy, front seat does not go back far enough from the steering wheel. My rodeo is one of the recalls for the undercarriage. Part of the frame that supports the tire underneath broke off, the vehicle started to rock as though i was in a tornado or caught in a wind storm. i lost control nearly had a wreck someone or myself could have been hurt or killed. I was told that Isuzu have gone out of business and I am responsible for the repairs. Any suggestions.

Isuzu Rodeo Reviews By Year:
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