What's New for 2001
An Anniversary Edition trim package that includes two-tone paint, leather seating and special chrome wheels is the only addition to 2001 Rodeos.
There's not a more hotly contested segment in the automotive world than the midsize SUV arena. Just about every major auto manufacturer either has, or is planning on, a four-door, five-passenger sport-ute. For years, the ubiquitous Ford Explorer has dominated this class of family haulers, but its high price and staid design, not to mention well-publicized tire problems, has opened the door for cheaper and sportier competition.The Rodeo is Isuzu's take on what a midsize SUV should be, offering streamlined styling, a killer warranty, and a healthy V6 that appeals to those looking for something cheaper and more aesthetically appealing than Ford's boxy sales leader.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. Do yourself a favor and step up to the S V6 that adds a 205-horsepower, 3.2-liter unit that really moves the Rodeo with authority.LS models add four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, along with a limited-slip differential and underbody skid plates. If you're looking for more luxury, top-of-the-line LSEs add an in-dash six-disc CD changer, leather seating and a power moonroof. Overall, the Rodeo's interior provides decent ergonomics, but the cupholders and plastic trim/switchgear look and feel somewhat cheap. 2001 marks the 85th anniversary of Isuzu and to celebrate they are offering a limited-edition Anniversary package on LS models that includes an exclusive two-tone color scheme, 16-inch chrome finish alloy wheels, and chrome side steps for the exterior. Inside, Anniversary Edition Rodeos get a beige leather interior, power seats, wood grain trim, and an upgraded stereo system.Buyers who prefer sportiness to luxury can equip their LS Rodeos with the Ironman package that adds tubular side steps, alloy wheels and Intelligent Suspension Control that automatically adjusts to one of 17 shock rebound and compression rates depending on road conditions. The Rodeo rides smooth on the highway, but we're a little disappointed with its skittish off-road behavior. Over uneven dirt trails, the Rodeo feels somewhat undersprung, bouncing and wallowing through ruts that other SUVs, like the Nissan Xterra, handle with ease.Japanese reliability is generally above average, but just in case, Isuzu provides 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 provides clean looks, a gutsy engine, and confidence-inspiring road manners. If you can live with the budget interior pieces and don't venture off-road much, the Rodeo is worth a look. Otherwise, make sure you check out the wide range of competitors in this price range before settling on the Isuzu.