2003 Isuzu Rodeo

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The Isuzu Rodeo - or the D-Max on the Australian market - was built on the same platform with the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Isuzu i-Series.

The Rodeo is the only pickup in Isuzu’s lineup as the manufacturer is especially known for its mid- and heavy-duty trucks.

The vehicle replaced the old TF pickup and comes with a pretty pleasant interior being less rugged than other pickups in its class. Thanks to its mixed personality, the Isuzu Rodeo can be used successfully for both harsh jobs and family necessities.

As most vehicles of its ilk, the Rodeo is available with 2WD or 4WD configurations. Yet despite Isuzu’s struggles to come up with a good product, the Rodeo is still not in the same league with its competitors from Nissan, Toyota or Mitsubishi which are currently the segment leaders.

Design

Isuzu Rodeo

The Isuzu D Max looks fairly good and its imposing design it’s a perfect match for its utilitarian character. The high ground clearance (205 mm) and the massive wheels are strong credentials about its off road abilities.

The headlights are placed vertically, which makes then different from anything else seen in the segment. The massive radiator grille comes with a nice shiny treatment chromed inserts bares the ISUZU badge in its center

The contour lines of the hood converge towards the grille and there is also an aggressive air dam mounted directly on to the hood which constantly sends fresh air to the engine bay.

The front bumper continues the robust design found at the rest of the body and it’s fitted with a wide air intake and two round fog lamps. At the bottom of the bumper it can also be seen the front end of a protective skid plate which further enhances the purposeful look of the Rodeo.

The vehicle comes with both single and double cab configuration. The single cab offers a load floor length of 2270 mm while the double cab’s floor is 1380 mm long.

The vehicle has a minimum payload of 1054 kg with a maximum towing capacity of 2000 kg or 3000 kg, depending on the engine.

Interior

Isuzu Rodeo

On the inside the Rodeo looks typically Japanese with a pretty dull design which won’t win you any beauty awards.

Though, the materials and plastics were chosen to endure and the build quality is pretty good without any rattles or other annoying squeaks to spoil the fun. Though, the Isuzu’s cab is still not at the same level with Toyota’s Hilux which it’s clearly class above.

Needless to say that the cab offers acres of space, with plenty of leg and head room for both the driver and passenger.

The center console looks pretty rudimentary while the rectangular air vents have also a pretty dated design. On the other hand, all controls are fairly easy to reach and the dashboard it’s extraordinarily functional.

The front seats come with pretty soft cushioning, but they are devoid of proper lateral support and they fail to protect you from the bone jiggling ride. At least you are treated with plenty adjustments which will help you find your favorite driving position relatively fast.

Unlike other vehicles in this class the Rodeo comes without a second gearstick for engaging the low ratio or 4WD modes. What you get instead are three easy to use buttons which permits you to select every drive mode wanted.

Naturally, the driving position is pretty high which gives you a commanding view of the road and a top notch all around visibility.

Engines and performance

Isuzu Rodeo

The Isuzu Rodeo is available with two diesel power plants. The first engine it’s a 2.5 liter unit which comes with 100 hp on tap, while the second develops 136 hp @ 3600 and has a displacement of 3.0 liters.

Both 4 cylinder units are fitted with intercooler and a standard five speed manual gearbox. The engines feature twin overhead camshafts with 16 valves, a stainless steel timing chain and an advanced common-rail system operating at a high-pressure, with electronically-controlled injection pump.

To offer capable towing abilities, 60 percent of torque (70 for the 3.0 unit) is available from as low as 1000 rpm. Both engines are fairly refined and smooth.

On the other hand, don’t expect to any kind of lively performances as the both units a pretty slow. The 3.0 liter unit hits the 100 kmh mark in 16.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 km/h, while its smaller sibling will reach the same speed in merely 21 seconds with a maximum speed on only 150 kmph.

Isuzu Rodeo Engines Specifications

Enginehp@rpmnm@rpm
3.0136 @ 3600294 @ 1800-3200
2.5100 @ 3500250 @ 1800

Ride and handling

Isuzu Rodeo

The hard suspension of the Rodeo helps it deal well with big loads, but unleaded it will keep you informed about every pothole found in the road.

The big exterior dimensions make the Rodeo a bit hard to drive in narrow situations while the turning circle isn’t exactly short. Though we like its determination and it makes you’ll feel more like driving a tank than a commercial vehicle.

Up front the Rodeo uses a torsion bar suspension system which does its job well, both on and off-road. At the back there is a basic leaf spring configuration.

You won’t have any complains about the breaks, as the stop pedal has a proper bite and you can rely on it with confidence.

The off road performances aren’t something to rave about and the truck lacks some of the popular driver aids, such as differential locks and traction control.

Verdict

Isuzu Rodeo

The Isuzu Rodeo isn’t as refined as other products in its class, but it has a bullet proof build quality and a well build interior. It’s also pretty reliable and comes with a generous load volume which makes it fairly practical.

On the other hand, the engines are pretty weak and can’t beat the strong performances found at some of the rivals.

The ride and handling aren’t the best you’ll find around either, while the price it’s also pretty papered. Yet we like its no-nonsense construction and the unstoppable character of a true bulldog on four wheels.


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