? Have questions about the 2000 Isuzu Amigo? Get them answered.
By Bob Golfen
March 11, 2000
The friendly Isuzu Amigo looked dark and foreboding in its jet black Ironman garb. This is the tough-guy version of Amigo (also available on Rodeo and VehiCross), looking ready to do battle on some stark landscape, maybe part of a Mad Max movie. My
15-year-old son was immediately enamored. Actually, I thought it was pretty cool, too. Not just for the look, including a mild face lift for 2000, but because the chunky Amigo is such a kick to drive, on or off the highway. I resisted the urge
to hum the Black Sabbath anthem, Ironman. After starting out as a stylistic poseur, Amigo was reborn two years ago, changed into a vehicle with some actual capability. Built on a full ladder frame like a real truck, a beefy four-wheel-drive system
and available power from a strong and flexible V-6 engine, Amigo has become a worthy challenger to Jeep Wrangler. Amigo also offers considerably more strength and versatility than the run of car-based sport-utility vehicles, such as Honda CRV,
Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage or Suzuki Vitara, in the same price range. The Ironman package is available in black or white, though I favor the sinister hue of the test truck. Ironman Triathlon insignias are prominently displayed. Mechanically,
the Ironman package requires the preferred equipment package of power options, upgraded stereo, air-conditioning, and so forth, that costs $2,110. Ironman, costing $962, adds the sporty graphics and body add-ons, but, more importantly, an "Intelligent
Suspension" system that adjusts automatically to road conditions and provides the choice of "sport" or "comfort" settings. Amigo's on-pavement driving manners are not all that great, with dicey handling and a tendency to bob and weave over road
irregularities. The freeway ride is jiggly and noisy. On balance, the Amigo does deliver a fair share of sporty fun, even in regular city driving. I favored the sport suspension setting for all conditions, the extra control and responsiveness
outweighing the jouncy ride. Off-pavement, Amigo is as tough as it looks, rumbling over boulders and through washes without complaint. The clutch on this five-speed stick-shift model wasn't as firm and responsive as it might have been, making my
left foot work a bit too hard. But I have no complaints about that V-6 engine. Smooth and free-revving on the highway, it exhibits a good reserve of grunt at low speeds, ready to pull the Amigo out of whatever predicament I put it in. Credit an
electronic intake system that varies between two manifold lengths. A 2.2-liter four is also available. The canvas top is nice to have, but it's a pain to fold and a worse pain to erect. Zipping in the rear side windows is a thumb-numbing
experience. For 2000, there is a resin hardtop available as well. Ironman on not, the Amigo is an enjoyable and satisfying sport-ute, a cut above the mini-utes in function and ability but right in there on the price tag.