1997 Isuzu Rodeo Review

Pros & Cons

  • Rear leg room, rugged styling, dual airbags
  • Dated structure, ABS is not standard, anemic 4-cylinder engine
List Price Estimate
$746 - $1,503

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Isuzu's Rodeo is getting a bit long in the tooth. Only mild updates have accompanied new model years since midseason 1995, when Isuzu added airbags for the driver and front passenger housed in a redesigned dashboard, roof-mounted speakers that expanded available cargo space in the revised interior, plus an improved stereo system. The new dashboard, designed with assistance from Honda, replaced the old unit with an organically swept affair complete with more legible gauges and improved ergonomics.

This year is no different. Isuzu puts the finishing touches on the first-generation Rodeo with standard shift-on-the-fly operation for 4WD models that can be engaged at speeds up to 62 mph and NVH improvements. Continuing from last year is optional four-wheel antilock brakes and two trim levels; basic S and more luxurious LS.

Rodeos are spacious for five inside, and V6 models have a swing-out spare tire that creates even greater elbow room. The rear seat folds flat, resulting in a long cargo floor, but the clamshell tailgate design makes it difficult to access the back of the cargo area easily. Fortunately, the rear glass will open independently. Oddly, the only way to get a 60/40 split folding rear seat is to order a top-of-the-line LS model; not very convenient, or sensible. Options include side steps and a brush grille guard.

Road noise might be a drawback, though the 3.2-liter V6 engine is quiet-running and strong with either five-speed manual shift or the available four-speed automatic transmission. A 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering 70 fewer horses, powers the two-wheel-drive S edition, which comes only with manual shift. Automatic transmissions have Power and Winter modes, the latter starting off in third gear to reduce wheelspin on slippery pavements. Towing capacity is 4,500 pounds with the V6 engine, but only a ton with the four-cylinder.

Anyone seeking a capable blend of comfortable highway ride and tempting off-road talents could do well to look for an Isuzu dealer, though buyers may want to wait for the all-new, completely redesigned 1998 Rodeo. Comparison shoppers beware; Honda markets a version of the Rodeo and calls it the Passport. The Passport tends to be a bit more expensive, and doesn't come with as comprehensive a warranty. For those reasons, we suggest you stick with a Rodeo.

1997 Highlights

All 4WD models get a standard shift-on-the-fly transfer case, and improvements have been made to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Isuzu Rodeo.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Very good, reliable truck
S 4dr SUV
I've owned this truck for about 7 years and had no major issues of any kind. Just general maintenance, brakes, etc. Please do not save money on oil and this car may run for up to 200000 miles. Mine has approx 140000 miles, my friend has Trooper with over 200000 miles and it is still going strong. Use Castrol synthetic blend 5w/30 for your high mileage Isuzu truck.
Great truck
LS 4dr SUV
I've had this Rodeo for going on 9 years, and have not had a single mechanical problem. It drives great, the engine is perfect (mechanics comment on it all the time), and is fun to drive. Not the best gas mileage, but it is an SUV. Highly recommend!
There is no place it can't go.
S V6 4dr SUV 4WD
Boxed ladder frame, skid plates, limited-slip Dana 44 rear differential. I assumed it to be a perfect off-road capable truck. I was correct! I have been to many Off-Road trails in Utah and Colorado without a breakdown. Recently took it up Wheelers Lake in Colorado. The included skid plates did come in handy. And, unlike some of me wheeling friends, I drove to/on/from the trail in the Rodeo. Great daily driver too, only minus is the fuel economy in the city. Ground clearance could be better but that can be fixed with the many lift-kits available. A few of my firends with Jeeps have traded up to Rodeos. I couldn't be happier with this truck.
LS 4dr SUV 4WD
You get 1-2 mpg more if you leave the A/c button off. Great car to drive, wonderful A/C & heater for the front. Not so good in the back especially in cold weather. Great 4WD & no problems with that at all. I had to replace the rear differential only because the dealership I was taking it to wasn't checking the rear differential and of course claimed no responsibility even though I had the paperwork showing they had done 97% of all the engine & oil change work. With close to 180,00o miles I'm going to turn it in for a newer model under the klunker deal. Good luck!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Isuzu Rodeo

Used 1997 Isuzu Rodeo Overview

The Used 1997 Isuzu Rodeo is offered in the following submodels: Rodeo SUV. Available styles include S V6 4dr SUV, LS 4dr SUV, LS 4dr SUV 4WD, S V6 4dr SUV 4WD, and S 4dr SUV.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Isuzu Rodeo?

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Which used 1997 Isuzu Rodeos are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Isuzu Rodeos you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Isuzu Rodeo for sale - 2 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $21,156.

Find a used Isuzu for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $14,927.

Find a used certified pre-owned Isuzu Rodeo for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $25,274.

Find a used certified pre-owned Isuzu for sale - 7 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $17,773.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Isuzu Rodeo?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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