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.