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A somewhat-charming specialty SUV let down by sloppy handling dynamics and an unrefined interior.
Sporty styling, standard ABS, powerful V6 engine option.
Excessive engine noise, harsh suspension, cramped interior.
Available Rodeo Sport SUV Models
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Formerly the Amigo, Isuzu's two-door sport-ute gets a name change and two new colors. A wheezing four-cylinder automatic with either a hard- or soft top is also new for 2001.
For 2001, Isuzu has dropped the Amigo nameplate and renamed their two-door sport-ute the Rodeo Sport. You can choose between a multitude of configurations including a hard or soft top, two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, four-cylinder or V6, and manual or automatic transmission. Powering the base Rodeo Sport is a 2.2-liter, DOHC four-cylinder engine that pumps out 130 horsepower and 144 foot-pounds of torque. The more powerful 3.2-liter V6 engine, the same one found under the hood of its four-door Rodeo sibling, makes 205 horsepower and 214 foot-pounds of torque. That's quite a bit of oomph, especially for such a light vehicle, and the power shows in the 7.4 second zero-to-60 time. A dash-mounted switch engages the shift-on-the-fly transfer case at speeds up to 60 mph. Ride quality is light years ahead of a Jeep Wrangler, while body panels stuffed with foam and asphalt-sheeting result in low levels of road noise. Front disc brakes and four-wheel ABS are standard on all models, with cruise control standard on V6 editions. You'll also get driver and passenger airbags and rear bench seats that fold down to reveal over 62 cubic feet of space. Power windows, locks, A/C, keyless entry and a CD player are all available options. All Isuzus come with a transferable 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain warranty.When you're out for a jaunt in the sun, the soft top can be stored in the cargo area, while the hardtop features a rear passenger moonroof for maximum UV exposure. A hard plastic spare tire cover is standard with the 16-inch wheels. For a sportier appearance, a special Ironman edition can be ordered that includes sport graphics, enhanced exterior trim, and exclusive color choices.With a strong V6 engine and ample features, the Rodeo Sport is a viable alternative to the two-door SUV competition from Ford and Chevy. We've sampled the hard top, but we have yet to test one of Isuzu's drop-top trucks, a shame because the Rodeo Sport was built for topless fun. We're suckers for the Jeep Wrangler convertible, and with its distinctive styling and utilitarian nature, the Rodeo Sport looks like it was developed using the same recipe book.
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