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The runt of the midsize SUV litter. Pick it only if you have a soft spot in your heart for Isuzu.
Stylish interior, rugged exterior, roomy rear seat.
Disconnected steering feel, lousy 4WD button placement.
Available Rodeo SUV Models
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The Rodeo marches into the 2000 model year with an aggressive exterior restyle, a collection of ergonomic and quality improvements and interior upgrades.
When it comes to figuring out which truck best meets your needs, it almost always requires a compromise of some sort or another. The closest thing to perfect in this price range has been the lower trim levels of the Ford Explorer, and spectacular sales of this popular SUV prove that, at least in the minds of consumers, buyers find its combination of room, style and power the best in the segment.
The Explorer is a fine sport-ute, despite recent difficulties with its standard equipment Firestone tires, but there's another face in this neighborhood that consumers consider. Enter the restyled Isuzu Rodeo with over 200 changes, including an aggressive new appearance, updated seating, 16-inch wheels and an optional Intelligent Suspension Control system. But should buyers visit an Isuzu showroom?
The Rodeo's interior provides cupholders, excellent ergonomics, and plastic trim/switchgear that looks and feels somewhat cheap. Clamber aboard and head for the hills; it's easy to thwart nature's obstacles with push-button 4WD and standard antilock brakes, though the Rodeo's trick suspension may not be 100 percent up to the task.
Buyers can select the new Ironman LS package, which includes V6, air conditioning, power moonroof, alloy wheels and Intelligent Suspension Control, which automatically adjusts to one of 17 shock rebound and compression rates, depending on road conditions.
Three trim levels are available: S, LS and LSE. 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.
At the top of the complaint list about the truck is the ridiculous location of the push-button 4WD switch, 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 to a minimum. Front bucket seats, formerly quite comfortable, are improved this year, according to Isuzu, and rear-seat riders enjoy a supportive bench seat and plenty of legroom.
For 2000, Isuzu also added a transferable 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain warranty for all of its SUVs, making it the longest one of its kind offered by any automaker in the United States.
The Rodeo is a decent blend of old-fashioned truck toughness and modern-day car-like convenience. But if you're looking for a new $30,000 SUV, consider the wide range of choices before settling on the Isuzu.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.