Not long ago, Isuzu and General Motors embarked upon a joint development venture to produce compact pickup trucks. Isuzu intended to build a truck called the D-Max to sell in Thailand. GM, meanwhile, manufactured its own versions � the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon � to sell in the United States.
For the 2006 model year, Isuzu intends to begin producing two new compact pickups for the U.S. market that are derived from the GM models and the D-Max. The i-280 (which is listed separately in the cars.com Research section) holds a 2.8-liter four-cylinder, while the i-350 gets a 220-horsepower, 3.5-liter inline-five-cylinder. These pickups join Isuzu's only remaining model in the U.S. market: the Ascender sport utility vehicle, which is also based on a GM product.
Isuzu's new pickups made their debut at the 2005 New York Auto Show. Serving as the uplevel i-series model, the i-350 will have all the features included in the Preferred Equipment and LS trim packages of the lower-priced i-280. These include such amenities as a CD/MP3 player, a tilt steering wheel and cruise control.
With the appropriate equipment, the i-350 has a 1,190-pound payload rating and can tow up to 4,000 pounds. 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.
These pickups were developed in a joint venture, so the overall appearance of the i-350 is similar to the Colorado and Canyon. Isuzu's version features a bold grille made up of three wide bars: one horizontal and two vertical. Whereas the four-cylinder i-280 comes only in extended-cab form with two-wheel drive, the i-350 is a crew-cab pickup with Insta-Trac four-wheel drive. Four conventional front-hinged doors are installed. The i-350 has 15-inch tires on aluminum wheels. The optional Limited Package adds a moonroof and a sliding rear window.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the i-350 Crew Cab. Front bucket seats flank a center console.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning; fabric seat upholstery; carpeting; a stereo system with a CD/MP3 player; remote keyless entry; cruise control; a tilt steering column; and power windows, locks and mirrors. Power heated front seats, leather-appointed interior trim and an in-dash six-CD changer are included in the Limited Package.
Under the Hood
The i-350's 3.5-liter inline-five-cylinder develops 220 hp and 225 pounds-feet of torque. A four-speed-automatic transmission is standard. The i-350 comes with Insta-Trac four-wheel drive, which permits shifting between 2WD and 4WD High at the touch of a button while under way.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are included.