Like its curvier Axiom companion, Isuzus traditional-styled midsize Rodeo sport utility vehicle may be equipped with a direct-injection gasoline engine that produces 250 horsepower for 2004. Fitted with variable valve timing, the new 3.5-liter V-6 promises better performance and a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy. Direct injection improves engine combustion by injecting vaporized fuel, under high pressure, directly into the combustion chamber. Idle noise has also been reduced. The new engine is also available in Isuzus Axiom for 2004.
A conventional 3.2-liter V-6 is now standard in the Rodeo, edging aside the previous four-cylinder engine. A new Sound Package includes a six-CD changer, and a new Color-Keyed Package is available. A tire-pressure monitor is also new this year.
Given a fresh grille and headlight design in 2003, this middle-of-the-road four-door SUV is offered only in a basic S trim level, but various option packages are offered. The Rodeo is built at a plant shared with Subaru in Lafayette, Ind. The SUV comes with a manual gearbox or a four-speed-automatic transmission and may be equipped with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Isuzu offers one of the longest powertrain warranties of any vehicle in this class: 7 years or 75,000 miles, plus roadside assistance for the same period.
Stretching to 177.5 inches long overall, the four-door Rodeo rides a 106.4-inch wheelbase and measures 70.4 inches wide (71.1 inches wide with the overfenders). The height of the four-wheel-drive model equipped with a roof rail is 69.4 inches.
A tailgate at the rear opens to the left. The back window swings up separately and must be opened before the tailgate. The Rodeos spare tire mounts on the tailgates exterior or may be stowed underneath the vehicle.
The Rodeo seats five people on two front buckets and a three-place, 60/40-split rear bench that folds to produce additional cargo room. A CD stereo system, privacy glass, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel and intermittent wipers are standard.
Preferred Equipment, Upgrade and Comfort Packages have been available for the Rodeo. An optional Chrome Package adds 16-inch polished-alloy wheels, chrome side steps and a six-CD changer. A Titanium Package includes a rear roof spoiler, six-spoke alloy wheels, gray overfenders and tubular side steps. Isuzus Luxury Package includes leather seat trim.
Under the Hood
Isuzu has dropped its four-cylinder engine, so all Rodeo models are now equipped with a standard 3.2-liter V-6 that produces 205 hp. The newly optional 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 engine produces 250 hp and 247 pounds-feet of torque. Rear-drive and four-wheel-drive models are offered. All versions are available with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard on rear-drive models, and all-disc antilock brakes are standard on four-wheel-drive versions. Side-impact airbags are not available.