What's New for 1998
Four-wheel drive arrives, finally. Also new are a theft-deterrent system and dual airbags housed in a revised instrument panel, with a passenger-side airbag cutoff switch so the kiddies can ride up front.
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 in 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.
Last year, Isuzu introduced 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 pickup will not likely take the world by storm. This year, there are more combinations of Hombre to choose from, thanks to 4WD availability in either trim level. Extended Cab models are offered in XS trim only.
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 dual airbags are standard on all models. 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 leg room 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 are basically 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.
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.