Not long ago, Isuzu and General Motors embarked upon a joint development venture to produce compact pickup trucks. Isuzu planned to build a truck called the D-Max to sell in Thailand, while GM manufactured its own versions � the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon � for the United States.
For the 2006 model year, Isuzu intends to begin production on two new compact pickup trucks for the U.S. market that are derived from the GM models and the D-Max. The i-280 holds a 2.8-liter four-cylinder, while the i-350 (which is listed separately in the cars.com Research section) gets a 3.5-liter inline-five-cylinder. They join Isuzu's only remaining model in the U.S. market: the Ascender sport utility vehicle, which is also based on a GM product. The new pickups made their debut at the 2005 New York Auto Show.
With its 175-horsepower four-cylinder and other appropriate equipment, the i-280 has a payload rating greater than 1,500 pounds and can tow up to 3,200 pounds when equipped with an automatic transmission (1,700 pounds with the manual shift). Production is scheduled to begin June 20 in Shreveport, La. Isuzu expects to sell 5,000 to 10,000 i-series pickups in the first year.
The pickups were developed in a joint venture, so the overall appearance of the i-280 is similar to the Colorado and Canyon. Isuzu's version features a bold grille made of three wide bars: one horizontal and two vertical. Viewed as the workhorse of the i-series duo, the i-280 comes only in extended-cab form with two-wheel drive. Equipped with a heavy-duty suspension, the i-280 has 15-inch tires on aluminum wheels. Automatic on-off headlights are standard. Bodyside moldings are included on the LS model, while the Luxury Package adds fog lamps and a sliding rear window.
A 60/40-split front bench seat goes in the i-280. The S Plus Preferred Equipment Package adds rear jump seats for two additional passengers. Front bucket seats and a center console are standard in the LS model.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a four-speaker stereo and vinyl floor covering. The S Plus Preferred Equipment Package adds fabric seat upholstery, carpeting and a stereo system with a CD/MP3 player. Remote keyless entry; cruise control; a tilt steering column; and power windows, locks and mirrors are part of the LS option. An in-dash six-CD changer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are included in the Luxury Package.
Under the Hood
The i-280's 2.8-liter four-cylinder operates with electronic throttle control and develops 175 hp and 185 pounds-feet of torque. Either a five-speed-manual gearbox or a four-speed-automatic transmission can be installed. The i-280 comes only with rear-wheel drive.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain-type airbags and traction control are part of the Luxury Package.