What's New for 1998
Though it may not look like it, Isuzu has completely revised the Rodeo from top to bottom, giving it more modern styling, a user-friendly interior, more V6 power and added room for passengers and cargo.
Choices in the sub-$30,000 sport-utility class are numerous. Figuring out which truck best meets your needs almost always requires a compromise of some sort or another. The closest thing to perfect has been the Ford Explorer, and spectacular sales of this popular SUV prove that buyers find its combination of room, style and power the best in the segment.
The Explorer is a fine sport-ute, but there's a new face in this neighborhood that deserves consideration. Meet the all-new Isuzu Rodeo, which has been completely re-designed. As you can see, styling is evolutionary, retaining the trademark egg-crate grille and blistered fenders of the old model. The new look is familiar yet contemporary and the 1998 Rodeo is one of the more ruggedly handsome SUVs available today.
Inside, a new interior provides cupholders, excellent ergonomics, the industry's most perfectly designed steering wheel, comfortable seats front and rear and plastic trim that looks anything but. Clamber aboard and head for the hills; it's easy with push-button 4WD and standard antilock brakes to thwart nature's attempts to impede your progress.
Buyers can select either a hatchback that lifts up from top to bottom, or a hatchgate, which employs flip-up glass and a tailgate that swings from right to left. The full-size spare tire can be stored under the vehicle or on the hatchgate. S and LS trim levels are available. The basic Rodeo has two-wheel drive and a weak 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. Step up to the S V6 and a 205 horsepower 3.2-liter unit whisks you along with verve. LS models are loaded with standard equipment.
Problems with the new design are minimal. The location of the push-button 4WD switch is absurd, located directly next to the cruise control button where it could be activated accidentally. Off-road, the new Isuzu feels somewhat undersprung, but takes bumps and dips easily if speeds are kept down. Finally, there are no rear cupholders for the kiddies.
The new Rodeo is an excellent blend of old-fashioned truck toughness and modern day car-like convenience. If you're looking for a new $30,000 SUV, this one should be near the top of your shopping list.