What's New for 1997
A Spacecab model debuts, with seating for five passengers and your choice of four-cylinder or V6 power. Other news includes two fresh paint colors and revised graphics.
Sporting sheetmetal stamped by General Motors do Brasil, and basic mechanical and structural components of the Chevrolet S-10/GMC Sonoma twins, the Hombre is Isuzu's entry the compact pickup market. Sporting two-wheel drive, a regular cab, and a weak 2.2-liter four cylinder engine upon debut in 1996, the Hombre was not exactly the stuff truck buyers craved.
For 1997, Isuzu introduces a Spacecab model that can be equipped with a 4.3-liter V6 engine teamed to a four-speed automatic transmission. While this new model may jump-start Hombre sales (this editor has seen two Hombres on the road, both of which were equipped with a large refrigerated box in place of a bed), the two new colors and revised graphics that are new this year likely will not.
At least the Hombre is somewhat of an improvement over the aging Japanese-built pickup the company marketed in 1995. Four-wheel antilock brakes and a driver airbag are standard on both models. However, crash test scores, based on the performance of the structurally identical Chevy S-10, are worse than they were for the old Isuzu truck, particularly for the front passenger. Horsepower and torque with the the GM 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine is better than the old truck boasted, and fuel economy has improved. However, front legroom has diminished slightly, payload is down a couple hundred pounds, and the turning circle has widened. This is progress?
Hombre regular cab is available in S and XS trim levels, and options are few. S models are the workhorse Hombres, with vinyl floor covering and options limited to air conditioning, a stereo, and a rear step bumper. XS models are better-equipped, offering custom cloth upholstery, carpeted floors, and a tachometer. All Spacecab models have XS trim.
Isuzu hasn't been selling many pickups in the past several years. As personal use pickup sales skyrocketed, the company stuck with marketing basic trucks more suited for work than play. First impressions indicate that the Hombre will do little to change Isuzu's fortunes in this segment.