VIDEO: The Isuzu Rodeo was cheap but cool

If you were a teenager in the late 80s or early 90s, wanting an Isuzu more than anything in the world was not an odd thing. Dealerships were lined with sleek Impulses and colorful Amigos. The coolest kid in my high school got several notches cooler when he showed up one day in a brand new red Rodeo. I was shocked that a Mustang or Z wasn’t the car of choice. It was at that time I should’ve seen the SUV-pocalypse coming.

According to this old Motorweek video, Isuzu marketed the Rodeo as a more family-friendly SUV while the Trooper was for escaping into the woods. The Rodeo was even available with a bench seat! With prices starting at $12,499 for 2.6-liter 4-cylinder 2WD version and going all the way up to $17,899 for a 4WD automatic with 3.1-liter V6, it was priced very well for its time.

A closer peek reveals the cost cutting measures though. Everything from the armrest console forward was just like the Isuzu pickup and Amigo, and that V6 was GM LG6 that powered the Transport/Lumina APV/Silhouette minivan triplets. It only squeezed out 120 horsepower, meaning 0-60 took 14.1 seconds. Its 15 city, 18 highway mpg wasn’t terrible, though.

In the end, the Rodeo had mainly its price and looks going for it. Also, In Japan it was called the Isuzu MU (Mysterious Utility) Wizard, so there’s that.

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6 Responses to VIDEO: The Isuzu Rodeo was cheap but cool

  1. MikeRL411 says:

    Bean Counters have to screw up the engineering !

  2. Socarboy says:

    I blame Isuzu’s (and Suzuki’s for that matter) demise on mismanaged control by General Motors who by the 2000s let both of these makes take the rap for bad products. In Isuzu’s case the late 80s & 90s Trooper & Rodeo were great SUVs which had a loyal customer base. By the 2000s Isuzu was selling rebadged GM SUV’s The last “real” Isuzu SUV was the Axiom which has been proved to have been a well made and engineered vehicle but it was hardly promoted. Such a sad unjust ending to a brand in the USA

  3. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Oh. A stretched Amigo…

  4. Lupus says:

    Here in Europe it was availble as Opel Frontera (in UK as Vauxhaull prabobly).
    It was indeed a cool looking, cheap off-road capable car. It was quite polular in Poland back in the days. It was considerably cheaper then Suzuki Gran Vitara, but from utility point of view ofered almost the same.
    Only watching the crach tests of it might be a bit disturbing :/

  5. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Don’t forget that even Honda rebadged the Rodeo for their first SUV.

  6. F31roger says:

    I’ve been saying the last few posts… Isuzu Amigo, Trooper and Rodeo (with Bighorn and Vehicross) were all good in my eyes.

    I’ve seen quite a few last year when I was in Vancouver BC at a few houses.

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