3.0 Rodeo LE Sport Automatic
and practical enough
to act as your personal tribes
regular wheels in a civilised world,
a double-cab pick-up will also prove
handy if the economy doesnt
recover and things turn a bit Mad
Max-ish just slap on a machine
gun and go survivalist...
SO VERY LONG AGO, before some faceless bankers triggered the financial rockslide
that put the world economy $50 trillion dollars in the red, 'lifestyle'-oriented
drivers couldn't get enough of pick-ups.
In the same way that the aforementioned $50 trillion didn't just evaporate,
neither did double-cab pick-ups. Like the big 4x4s and SUVs, pick-ups just dropped
out of the limelight for a while. But they still have the ability to appeal.
If you're going down the pick-up route, your best bet is to go for a range-topping
five-seat, four-door double-cab model like the Rodeo tested here. The
Rodeo is undeniably an imposing machine and the first thing to take your eye
will be the huge 20-inch Shadow Chrome Blade alloy wheels. The purposeful look
is beefed up at the nose by a mesh front grille, chrome bonnet edge finisher
and projector-type Xenon headlamps. At the side, stretched between the prominent
wheel arches, are shapely, shiny, functional side-steps. Rear door privacy glass
features and there's a premium hard top behind the main cab. At the back, rear
lamp guards echo the sturdy go-anywhere look.
Talking of going anywhere, Isuzus sell in huge numbers in more than 80 countries
worldwide and enjoy a rock solid reputation as rugged off-road vehicles, so
you can be sure the Rodeo will take anything and everything you can throw at
Our test 3.0-litre LE Sport's power comes from a 161bhp 3.0-litre common-rail
direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder diesel unit. Mated to a four-speed
automatic transmission, this 2,999cc powerplant produces 246lb ft of torque
at 1,600rpm. Maximum speed is 109mph, with 0-60mph coming up in 10.8 seconds.
Unlike Mad Max, you won't be scouring the badlands for fuel because fuel consumption
is better than you might expect. Officially the 3.0-litre unit returns 25.9,
31.4 and 35.8mpg respectively for the Urban, Combined and Extra Urban cycles.
During our week-long road test we averaged 29.3mpg. Not bad, and combined with
a 16.7-gallon fuel tank, this should see forecourt visits being few and far
is car-like with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution the latter
being particularly important on a pick-up because it has to cope with wider
variations between laden and unladen weight. Don't forget that it has a 3,000kg
braked towing limit and carries payloads in excess of one tonne. Twin front
airbags are standard and you'll find five three-point seatbelts (the front belts
and the rear outer belts are all height adjustable) and, for smaller family
members, there are Isofix child seat mountings fitted to both outer rear seats.
aboard the high-riding Rodeo is easy thanks to wide-opening doors, practical
non-slip side-steps and also the keyless-entry. The grab-type style outer door
handles have a quality feel and action and the doors open and shut with a reassuring
will enjoy the views
and the ride...
The cabin is spacious and the deep fascia looks smart; the centre stack gets
a silver-effect finish. Standard kit is good and includes a touch screen SatNav,
A/C, leatyher upholstery, four electric windows (one-shot auto feature on driver's
window), power steering, large powered door mirrors, height-adjustable front
seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, trip computer, keyless entry system,
cruise control, Bluetooth kit, radio/CD (with MP3 compatibility and iPod connectivity)
and a six-CD autochanger. There's also a rear-view parking camera which displays
on the SatNav's colour screen.
major controls are to hand and the instrumentation is straightforward with clear
graphics that, on the central speedometer, are highlighted by a blue outer band.
The standard AirCon (with a pollen filter) has easy-to-use rotary controls and
there's a good deal of storage space. Useful 'cubbies' include a fair-sized
lockable gloebox, drop-down sunglasses holder, two-tier lidded centre armrest
with a lid that flips back 180 degrees to also serve as a mini tray for rear
passengers, ample cupholders and even a slot for your mobile. The 'jukebox'
Clarion Hi-Fi features a built-in 6-CD autochanger and rock 'n' rolls with the
best of 'em; it will even record and store your own music library on its built-in
hard disk. What was a pleasant change was being able to ride around with all
four windows fully open at speeds up to 45mph, without being buffeted
try that in most of today's cars and you'll soon close the windows!
Rear seat passengers will enjoy the views and the ride. The seats
front and rear all do their bit for comfort, proving restful and supportive
over even quite long distances. The leather upholstered seats feature contrasting
suede centre panels and good side bolstering. And although the rear seat backrest
is fairly upright, it's surprisingly comfortable. Plus there's good foot and
legroom for those travelling in the rear. The only thing lacking is a centre
rear armrest. Headroom, wherever you sit, is generous and if your rear passengers
find the views out a tad boring, they can always watch a DVD on the screens
inset into the back of the front seat headrests.
Rodeo comes with a commanding driving position that's made even better by the
excellent all-round visibility. A tilt-adjustable steering wheel and height-adjustable
driver's seat ensure a first class driving position is easily set.
presence is a given but for all it's hard-hat image, the Rodeo turns out to
be an 'easy driver'. By default the Rodeo is two-wheel driven but you have the
option of engaging the selectable 4WD 'on the fly' using the facia-mounted button
4WD/2WD can be engaged at speeds up to 60mph.
presence is a
given but for all its
the Rodeo turns out to
be an easy driver...
is drama-free thanks to a two-speed transfer box for low ratio work, 205mm (8
inches) of ground clearance and maximum approach and departure angles of 34
and 21 degrees. And the Rodeo will happily wade through water up to 600mm deep.
It's a diesel and sure, you can hear it when you start from cold. But warmed
up it's no more noticeable than any other modern diesel and it's never intrusive.
In fact, the cabin is unexpectedly quiet at speed. At motorway speeds the auto
'box's top gear is pulling a relaxed 29.5mph per 1,000rpm; at the legal limit
the Rodeo lopes along feeling stable and easygoing.
everyday roads the Rodeo's ride is agreeable and with none of the 'workhorse'
choppiness you'd expect. You're always aware that you're driving something big,
of course, but in no way does that stop the Rodeo being enjoyable to drive.
A day behind the wheel and you'll be parking and manoeuvring as if you've never
driven anything else. The rack-and-pinion steering helps; it is well weighted
and accurate and corners are taken level. However, fast cornering will have
those meaty 255/50 Scorpion tyres howling.
The gutsy 3.0-litre powerplant serves up strong pulling power. It's willing,
too, revving eagerly to the red-line. Push the 'power' button alongside the
selector and the transmission will delay shifts until higher revs. Zero to 60mph
comes up in 10.8 seconds so keeping up with traffic in not a problem. Stopping
is equally reassuring with large ventilated discs up front backed up with ABS
and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. The pedal is progressive and pulling
up is smooth either one-up or driving with a full load.
The rear hardtop unit adds estate functionality to the rear pick-up load bay.
The substantial wide tailgate drops down horizontally for easy access to the
1,380mm (54.3 inches) long load floor that will carry a 1,055kg payload.
The Rodeo LE Sport makes a great multifunction vehicle: tough workhorse; weekend
tow-car; or weekday family transport. If you've never tried one, now is as good
as time as any to take a test drive you'll be pleasantly surprised how
easy and enjoyable they are to drive. A surprising number of supercar owners
also have one of these in their multi-car garage so even if you can't stretch
to the Aston or Ferrari you can match them when it comes to their 'ute'.
Of course, it may be that wealthy owners are just hedging their karmic bets:
Isuzus are named after the Isuzu River that flows past Japan's oldest shrine,
which is definitely good karma. Whatever your reasons, ridin' in a Rodeo is
right good fun. MotorBar
Isuzu 3.0 Rodeo LE Sport Automatic | £28,714
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-60mph: 10.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 29.3mpg
Power: 161bhp | Torque: 246lb ft | CO2 237g/km | Insurance group 13A