Isuzu sold rebadged GM vehicles from some time now and one of the latest models launched by the company is the i-Series pickup which is based on the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon . The vehicle is available in both single and double cab versions with either 4x2 or 4x4 configurations.
The i-Series is far from being among the best choices you can find in this segment as both its materials and build quality are behind average. The engines are also a half step behind models like the Toyota or Nissan, but the price is smaller than most if its rivals.
Though the competitive price strategy wasn’t enough to boost Isuzu’s sales and its i-Series was always at the bottom of the sales charts.
Judging by the poor sales recorded by Isuzu on the US market, it’s possible that the i-Series could be the last passenger car sold on this market.
The overall design of the i-Series is identical with its GM twins and the only exterior difference is the radiator grille which features a unique design and comes with a chrome treatment.
The big headlights keep the same design, as the ones from the Colorado and are split in two sections by a thin strip which makes them look pretty unique.
The hood is traversed by two dynamic creases which point toward the grille. The bumper features a pretty basic design, but it received a chromed finish which makes it look slightly more upscale. The bumper is also fitted with a wide air intake and two rectangular fog lamps.
Along the sides you’ll find a set of oversized wheel arches which underline the rugged character of the vehicle, while around the back there are two vertically placed taillights and a convenient step integrated into the rear bumper to offer easier access to the load bed.
The load bed measures 72.8 inch long and 57.2 inch wide (42.6 inch between wheel arches), offering a maximum cargo volume of 44 cubic foots.
You can hop inside without too much fuss thanks to the well placed footsteps. Once inside you’ll find plenty of space on the first row of seats. On the other hand, the rear seats are a bit cramped and legroom is pretty limited.
The quality of materials ranges between poor and average and the fittings aren’t exactly part of the first class either. The interior design is pretty uninspired too and the dull lines won’t win you any beauty awards. Though, we’ll have to accept that the ergonomics are well sorted and most of the controls are placed pretty intuitively.
The center stack comes with a shiny metallic finish and its fitted with two air intakes, an audio system, the common HVAC controls and three push buttons which permit you to control the traction system in 4x4 models.
The front seats are fairly supportive and the driver’s unit has anything it needs to offer a proper driving position. The steering wheel is also well positioned and despite its rudimentary appearance it offers a confident grab.
As most trucks of its ilk, the Isuzu i-Series offers a great all around visibility and the plate sized door mirrors will also do their job just fine and keep you well informed of what is going on behind.
Isuzu was never associated with luxury and the i-Series won’t change that impression. There were two trim levels available namely S and LS. The base S trim had only air-conditioning, cruise control and little else, while the the LS trims added bucket seats, full power accessories and a six-speaker stereo. Optional features for the LS package included a six-CD changer and a locking rear differential.
Engines and performance
The Isuzu i-Series was offered in two versions namely the i-290 and i-370. The i-290 is powered by a 2.9 liter inline-4 engine which churns out 185 hp and 190 lb.ft of torque. The i-290 is available in rear wheel drive configuration and the engine is married with a five speed manual transmission with a four speed automatic unit available as an option.
Under the hood of the Isuzu i-370 you’ll find a 3.7 liter inline-5 that cranks out 242 hp and 242 lb.ft of torque. The engine is mated on a standard four speed automatic transmission and the i-370 crew cabs can be outfitted with a four wheel drive system. A fully equipped four wheel drive Isuzu i-370 can tow 5500 pounds which is unimpressive.
The engines aren’t as strong as other units available in the segment and the word sporty is out of discussion. Though, they offer reasonable performances and deal satisfactory with big loads.
The automatic unit offers firm and well timed shifts, while the five speed manual gearbox is among the best units you’ll find in a small pickup.
Isuzu i-Series Engines Specifications
|Engine||hp @ rpm||lb-ft @ rpm|
|2.9 liter||185 @ 5600||190 @ 2800|
|3.7 liter||242 @ 5600||242 @ 4600|
Ride and handling
The i-Series offers the same driving experience as its GM twins. The body balance is well kept in check and the truck stays well planted on its wheels offering a solid feel. The ride is better than expected and the suspensions can soak up most of the road bumps and potholes without affecting the driver’s comfort.
Both the i-290 and i-370 handle surprisingly well and the steering offers a pretty accurate feedback, as well. Though the off road performances aren’t as good as the Japanese pickups.
The i-Series offers decent performances but its qualities are below average and there are out there many other pickups which come with superior attributes. The cabin is pretty spartan and the materials and build quality isn’t as refined as other trucks in the segment.
Though, it’s not all bad news, as the i-Series handles confidently both on and off road and the price is pretty competitive. On the other hand the engines are far from being impressive.