2002 Isuzu Rodeo Review

Pros & Cons

  • Stylish exterior, great powertrain warranty.
  • Cheap interior pieces, flaccid suspension, uncomfortable front seats, questionable build quality.
List Price Estimate
$1,370 - $2,651

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The runt of the midsize SUV litter. Pick it only if you have a soft spot in your heart for Isuzu.

Vehicle overview

One of the more hotly contested segments in the automotive world is the midsize SUV arena. Just about every major auto manufacturer either has, or is planning on, a four-door five-passenger sport-ute.

The Rodeo is Isuzu's take on what a midsize SUV should be, offering streamlined styling and a big warranty in the hopes of attracting buyers looking for something cheaper and more aesthetically appealing than the typical sales leaders.

The basic Rodeo has two-wheel drive and a 130-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. Even with the five-speed manual transmission, acceleration leaves something to be desired. The Rodeo LS and LSE have a more powerful 3.2-liter 24-valve four-cam V6 engine, rated at 205 hp and 214 pound-feet of torque. The V6 comes mated to a four-speed automatic with special "power" and "winter" driving modes.

Four-wheel-drive models feature an electronic shift-on-the-fly system. Operated by a dash-mounted switch, the driver shifts the vehicle into 4WD-High at the touch of a button and at road speeds up to 60 mph. While the Rodeo's mechanical hardware and 8.2 inches of ground clearance make an acceptable performer off-road, other SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner clearly outpace it.

For 2002, Isuzu has updated the Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) that comes standard on LSE trim. This system constantly monitors and adjusts shock valving to provide improved ride and handling. Hopefully this update will improve the Rodeo's handling, as previous models we've tested were marked by a jiggly ride and excessive body movements during launches and stops.

Three trim levels are available: S, LS and LSE. 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. Note that the option packages are slightly different this year, with a new Special Edition package for Rodeo S and a new Chrome package and revised Comfort package for Rodeo LS.

Inside, the Rodeo provides a maximum of 81 cubic feet of cargo capacity (with rear seats folded down). We've never been fond of the front seats, which we think lack the proper lumbar, lateral and thigh support. Although there is a good amount of legroom and height-adjustable seatbelts, the lack of foot- and shoulder-room and the generally unpleasant ride greatly reduce the enjoyment of driving this vehicle. Cheap-feeling interior materials and questionable build quality are other negatives.

Isuzu does provide 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. But that's not enough help for what is otherwise a middling SUV quickly being outpaced by fresher and more competent vehicles. If you're interested in a Rodeo, make sure you check out the wide range of competitors in this price range before settling on the Isuzu.

2002 Highlights

For 2002, Isuzu has fiddled with the Rodeo's option packages and improved the available Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) system.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Isuzu Rodeo.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

9 yrs old, 154K and still running strong
LS 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A)
Bought this in 2002 after reading many reviews and talking to a few different owners. I've had this vehicle for 9 years and other than normal wear and tear repairs, have not had any issues. I am still getting 23 mpg on the highway; about 19 city. As long as the routine maintenance is kept up, this vehicle has been a gem.
Often Seen high mileage
Mountain Canuck ,10/20/2010
S V6 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A)
Every vehicle line has its lemons. Our Rodeo SE has been a solid and reliable all-round truck. I have been the only owner from 12 km and have beat it around in the snow and through the bush a lot. This year we picked up a 2700 lb (loaded) tent trailer for it to haul. After hauling the trailer fully loaded up a 12-15% minimum highway grade for about 40km, it didn't falter once. In fact it performed very well. Changing all fluids at the regular service intervals helps keep it going. If you are concerned about mileage, change your fuel filter. It's a $12 part and only takes 15- 20mins. Mine is changed yearly due to local delivery of poor fuel quality. Its like driving a new truck every year.
Great Little Rodeo!
S V6 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A)
My parents bought my Isuzu Rodeo new in 2002 from the dealership. I inherited it when it hit 200,000 miles in 2010 (my mom commutes and we did a lot of road trips.) This little SUV has gone through Canyonlands National Park, back roading in Idaho, and has been an every day commuter since 2002. The 4 wheel drive has been excellent throughout the mountain west, and has been used as my vehicle to ski mountains since 2010. It currently has 262,000 miles on it, and while it's lost some power, and the check engine light is on, it seems to just keep on trucking. We treat it with a little more respect now - it doesn't go off roading as often, and I typically keep it in the Salt Lake valley. We have never had any serious maitenance- just a wheel bearing at 230,000 miles. For the cost, it has been probably the best value vehicle my husband I will ever own (and my parents for that matter). I keep saying it's time to get a new car, but it's just the little Rodeo that could... It looks like we will keep it until the end (who knows, it could have 40,000 more miles in it?!)
It's a Winner!
LS 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A)
When I bought my rodeo, it already had 100,000 miles on it. I am at 168,000 now and driving strong. No problems at all except had to replace tires and alternator. And I have crack in the radiator. But other than that, it is very dependable and handles well, especially on dirt, hilly roads. I just wish it got better gas mileage, only get about 260 miles per tank now. Use to get almost 300 when I first bought it.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    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 2002 Isuzu Rodeo

Used 2002 Isuzu Rodeo Overview

The Used 2002 Isuzu Rodeo is offered in the following submodels: Rodeo SUV. Available styles include LS 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), LS 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), S V6 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), S V6 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), LSE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), LSE 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 4A), S 2WD 4dr SUV (2.2L 4cyl 4A), S 2WD 4dr SUV (2.2L 4cyl 5M), S V6 4WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 5M), and S V6 2WD 4dr SUV (3.2L 6cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Isuzu Rodeo?

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 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.

Check out Isuzu lease specials
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