Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 2-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,000*

1990 Isuzu Amigo XS

1990 Isuzu Amigo XS

1992 Isuzu Amigo

1993 Isuzu Amigo XS

1994 Isuzu Amigo Amigo

  • Antilock brakes
  • 4WD traction
  • Driver seating
  • Acceleration
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear visibility

Neither the quickest nor the thriftiest small sport utility on the market, Amigo has quite a few virtues. Like its competitors, though, an Amigo is not a good bet for everyday transportation.


Introduced in spring of 1989, Isuzu’s Japanese-built compact sport-utility vehicle focused more on sport than on the utility end. The Amigo came with 2-wheel or on-demand 4-wheel drive and a choice of engines. A 96-horsepower 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine went into the 2-wheel-drive S model, but other Amigos got a 120-horsepower, 2.6-liter four. Both engines drove a 5-speed manual transmission. Choices extended further–to two or four seats, an open or enclosed cargo area, and either of two trim levels (S or XS). All versions had two side doors and a side-opening tailgate, which held a full-size spare tire.

Yearly Updates

1991 Amigo
Minor cosmetic alterations marked the 1991 model year for Isuzu’s pickup-based sport-utility vehicle.
1992 Amigo
A 4-speed automatic transmission became available this year, on all Amigos with the bigger (2.6-liter) engine.
1993 Amigo
Except for a retouched grille, similar to that on the bigger Rodeo, nothing was new on Isuzu’s smallest sport-utility.
1994 Amigo
Amigo’s smaller engine disappeared after ’93. No more automatic transmissions were available, either. A high-mounted rear stoplamp was installed. Power steering now was standard on all models, as were power mirrors and a central console.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Only the price-leader Amigo S with 2-wheel drive had a standard 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated 96 horsepower. All others models got the 2.6-liter 4-cylinder, making 120 horsepower. Until 1992, all Amigos had 5-speed manual shift. Four-speed automatic, made optional that year, could be installed on any model except the 2WD S with the smaller engine. Automatic lasted only two seasons on the Amigo’s selection sheet. For the Amigo’s final season, only the 2.6-liter engine remained, with manual shift.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 123
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.6/156
Engine HP 120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 146-150
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Essentially a shortened Isuzu pickup (topped by a button-down canvas roof), the Amigo feels huskier and more stable than some mini 4x4s. Unfortunately, it’s too heavy for even the 2.6-liter engine, so both acceleration and fuel economy are mediocre.

Road manners are better than many rivals, much like those of a compact 4WD pickup. The ride is firm but comfortable, noise levels fairly reasonable, braking distances acceptable. Handling appears balanced and safely predictable, provided that you respect the Amigo’s short wheelbase and high center of gravity. Engaging 4WD is somewhat of a chore, as you must stop and get out to lock the manual hubs.

Passenger and cargo space beat most rivals, but the optional rear bench is narrow and hard, not for long-term adult travel. Reclining front seats slide forward to ease access to the back, but getting there still isn’t easy. Wide side pillars impair over-the-shoulder visibility, while the tailgate-mounted spare tire tends to block the rearward view. The Amigo’s dashboard and instruments are almost carlike, with the exception of a low-mounted radio. Though not easy to erect, the snap-on canvas top is less complex than some.


Model Tested: 1990 Isuzu Amigo XS 5-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
Cargo Room - 5


Value - 4

Total: 37


2-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
91.7 168.1 70.1 69.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
51.0 21.9 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.0 32.0 42.5 19.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 Amigo 2-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Front Passenger Injury - 3

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 101
Injury 149
Theft 224

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner stops working because the evaporator ices up, requiring replacement of the thermostat on the evaporator. (1990-93)
Description: Ice can build up under the front fender and, when the door is opened, the door and fender are damaged. A new fender liner is available to prevent buildup. (1990-94)
Engine mounts
Description: Vibration at idle (unless caused by engine problems) is corrected with revised motor mounts. (1990-91)
Description: The ignition key can be hard to remove because the lens over the shift lever interferes with the shift cable. (1992)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak from the distributor shaft on 2.3-liter engine. (1990-93)
Steering noise
Description: A knocking noise when the steering wheel is turned requires a steering-column repair kit. (1990-94) Lack of grease causes squawks in column. (1993-94)
Steering noise
Description: Knocking in the steering column is caused by a defective steering-shaft joint that must be replaced. (1991-92)

Recall History

Description: Latch in seatbelt buckle could engage only partially, causing tongue to come out during collision or hard braking.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.