Isuzu Rodeo — April 2007

Date: Friday, April 20, 2007

Isuzu may not have had a huge effect on the dominance of Mitsubishi and Nissan in the UK pick-up market with the TF or latterly the Rodeo, but in its country of production, Thailand, it sold 167,000 fifth generation Rodeos last year. So it must be doing something right.

 

This model is now on sale in this country and although it is based on the predecessor it has a heavily revised front-end and cab, and features a new engine.

The previous Rodeo was available with either a 2.5- or 3.0-litre diesel engine — the former in the 4x2s and the latter in the 4x4s — producing 101 bhp and 131 bhp respectively. It is now sold in the UK solely as a double cab 4x4 with just the one 2.5-litre engine.

Common Rail

It has common rail injection and a variable geometry turbo and produces maximum power of 134 bhp at 3,600rpm. Peak torque of 217 lb/ft is available at 1,800rpm. Isuzu plans to offer a Prodrive Performance Pack — as it did on the previous model — later in the year and this is expected to raise the output to in excess of 160 bhp and hike torque to 250+ lb/ft. It will come as standard on the rangr-topping Denver Max LE version and will be available as an option on the other derivatives.

Service intervals have been set at 12,000 miles which seems a bit frequent to us, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

A new five-speed manual gearbox has been utilised and in two-wheel drive mode directs power to the rear wheels. Four-wheel drive is selectable electronically using facia-mounted buttons — 2H, 4H and 4L — and can be engaged on the move up to speeds of 60mph.

Power assisted rack and pinion steering is employed and replaces the recirculating ball system on the old models. Front suspension is independent while the solid live rear axle features semi-elliptical leaf springs in traditional pick-up style for durability. Dampers are fitted front and rear to keep the whole shebang under control. A rear limited-slip differential is standard on all models.

Brakes are ventilated discs at the front with drums at the rear and this latest Rodeo benefits from an upgraded servo and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution). Four-sensor, three-channel ABS is fitted as standard.

The 16in alloy wheels are shod with 245/70R16 tyres on the entry level model and the Denver Max, while the Denver Max LE will feature 18in alloys with lower profile 255/60R18 boots.

Load Area 

Rodeo double cab retains its 1,380mm load length and has a maximum width of 1,525mm, narrowing to 1,020mm between the wheelarch boxes. Sidewall height has increased slightly to 475mm, up from 450mm.

The heavy-duty tailgate has a single, centrally mounted release catch and once dropped down to 90° offers a 750mm load height.

No ladder rack is supplied to protect the rear of the cab which is a shame.

Gross payload is quoted as 1,075kg which means that VAT can be reclaimed for business use and it's capable of towing a braked trailer weighing up to 3,000kg.

New Interior

The revised cab has been brought up to date and given a more car-like feel with a one-piece facia along with a high specification, even on the entry-level model.

It comes as standard with remote central locking, electric front and rear windows, electric door mirrors, air conditioning, leather rimmed steering wheel, trip computer with fuel consumption readout and a single CD/radio player with MP3 capability and iPod connectivity. Driver and front passenger airbags also feature, as well as two 12v power outlets, vehicle alarm, immobiliser and front fog lamps.

Move up to the Denver Max — and Isuzu reckons this will be the biggest-seller — and you can add chrome side steps, soft-type front A-bar, rear step bumper and brushed steel door entry guards. It also comes with a load liner, hands-free Bluetooth kit and a 6-CD autochanger.

When it appears later in the year the Denver Max LE adds leather seats and door inserts, mesh front grille, DVD sat nav system and a colour-coded hardtop for the load area.

As far as storage is concerned there's a lockable glovebox and bins at the base of each of the front doors with a moulding to hold a small bottle of water.

On the Road

We were pretty impressed with the old Rodeo, but the recent revisions have taken it to a different level. The new engine is much superior to even the old 3-litre lump, especially in the smooth way it delivers its torque across a wider rev band.

Subjectively it is also quieter with less obvious vibration, but this could be down to improved isolation of the cab from the engine bay. Whatever the reason, it is more refined.

It's general on-road manners are also improved with a smoother ride quality and the steering is now much more precise and responsive.

The cab is comfortable with supportive seats and good driving position, helped by the rake-adjustable steering column, and we're pleased to report that Isuzu has stuck with a traditional floor-mounted handbrake lever; unlike Ford and Mazda.

All the controls are laid out logically and we particularly like the electronic push-button drive selection; it makes life very easy indeed.

It has lost non of its off-ability, however, and tackled the off-road course with aplomb. It didn't even hesitate when wading through some very deep, over-the-bonnet water troughs.

VERDICT

Isuzu has done a good job in updating the Rodeo. The new engine and gearbox work well together and the extra torque makes it much more responsive. The on-road ride and refinement have improved while it remains an impressive off-road performer. The specification is excellent, even on the base model, and we particularly like the inclusion of air conditioning and an alarm. There is no doubt that Isuzu is aiming the new Rodeo more at the passenger car than the LCV market — no sign of a single or stretched cab version — but if it's a double cab you're after then this is definitely worth consideration.

 

 



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