Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,600*

1992 Isuzu Rodeo

1993 Isuzu Rodeo LS

1996 Isuzu Rodeo

1997 Isuzu Rodeo

1997 Isuzu Rodeo

  • Antilock brakes (4-wheel opt. after ’96)
  • 4WD traction
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • No shift-on-the-fly (pre ’96)
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

The need to stop the vehicle to engage 4WD, then stop and back up to disengage it, is an inconvenience. Otherwise, the competent and tightly constructed Rodeo deserves a serious look, as it just might be the best Isuzu model on the market.


Like the smaller Amigo, the Rodeo shared its front-end, chassis, and powertrains with pickup trucks. Price leader was the 2-wheel-drive S, with a 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual shift. GM’s 3.1-liter V6 was standard on the 4-wheel-drive S, as well as 2WD and 4WD models in midrange XS and top-level LS trim. The V6 also was optional in the 2WD S. All but the basic Rodeo could get an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. The 4×4 models used a part-time, on-demand 4WD system and rode larger tires on 7-inch aluminum wheels. Automatic-locking front hubs were standard on all but the 4WD S model, which used manual hubs. All-disc brakes had rear antilock control.

Yearly Updates

1992 Rodeo
Following their debut for 1991, Rodeos continued with little change into ’92.
1993 Rodeo
Borrowed from the Trooper, a new 3.2-liter 175 horsepower V6 replaced the prior GM V6 engine. The 3.2-liter engine was standard on the midrange XS and top-line LS, as well as the base S model when equipped with 4WD.
1994 Rodeo
Formerly optional on the base 4-cylinder S model, power steering became standard this year. Air conditioning went into all LS Rodeos. Front vent windows were deleted. Honda began to market its own version of the Rodeo this year, named Passport.
1995 Rodeo
Dual airbags were installed in mid 1995, when Rodeo interiors were revamped and a new dashboard was installed.
1996 Rodeo
Introduced after the start of the model year, ’96 Rodeos got a more-powerful V6 engine, shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive, and available 4-wheel antilock braking.
1997 Rodeo
Awaiting a substantial redesign for ’98, Rodeo continued with no significant changes.


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

Only the basic 2WD S Rodeo came with a standard 2.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 120 horsepower. All other models got GM’s 3.1-liter V6, also developing 120 horsepower but considerably more torque. Five-speed manual shift was standard. A 4-speed automatic transmission was optional, including electronic controls and three shift modes. For 1993, a 3.2-liter V6 replaced the GM 3.1-liter, developing 175 horsepower. In 1996, the V6 got a boost from 175 to 190 horsepower.

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


ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/193
Engine HP 175-190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 188
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration is adequate but less than brisk with the early V6 and automatic. The 3.2-liter V6, made available in 1993, is an improvement in terms of smoothness and quietness. That V6 works well with automatic, which changes gears smoothly and downshifts promptly for passing. Gas mileage is nothing to boast about. One test Rodeo averaged just 13.9 mpg.

Ride is firm yet surprisingly comfortable, as the absorbent suspension handily soaks up just about every flaw on paved roads. Braking distances are acceptable, though a 2WD Rodeo turned out to be prone to abrupt front-wheel lockup. Road noise is prominent at highway speeds.

Occupants are treated well in a Rodeo. Rear leg room is ample, even with the front seats all the way back. Head clearance is good all around, and the driving position is comfortable for most people. Back doors are quite narrow at sill level, and open only about 70 degrees, so larger folks might feel squeezed when getting in and out. The full-size spare tire mounted inside many models cuts considerably into cargo space, but the back seat folds flat to create a wide cargo floor. Except for too many confusing buttons controlling lights and wipers, and a low-mounted radio, the dashboard is fine.


Model Tested: 1996 Isuzu Rodeo LS auto

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 - 3
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 4

Total: 39


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 176.5 66.5 65.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
74.9 21.9 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 37.8 42.5 36.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Rodeo 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
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 104
Injury 104
Theft 129

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner gradually becomes warmer due to ice forming on the evaporator. The root problem is a mispositioned thermostat. (1993)
Description: If ABS warning light comes on, it may be due to chaffing between wiring and front wheel sensors. (1991-97)
Cruise control
Description: The cruise control may not let the transmission shift down out of overdrive on hills. (1991)
Engine noise
Description: Ticking noise from the top of 3.2L V6 engine may be due to hydraulic lash adjuster failure caused by varnish deposits and using 0W-30 Mobil I synthetic oil has been successful in cleaning them. (1997-earlier)
Fuel gauge
Description: Faulty sender in fuel tank may cause fuel gauge to not read full or drop suddenly. (1998)
Hard starting
Description: Vehicle may not start when in Neutral because of a faulty mode selector switch. (1992-93)
Description: The ignition key can be hard to remove because the lens over the shift lever interferes with the shift cable. (1992)
Steering noise
Description: A knocking noise when the steering wheel is turned requires a steering-column repair kit. (1991-94)
Steering noise
Description: Lack of grease causes squeaks in column. (1994)
Transmission noise
Description: Lack of lube on the clutch shift fork pivot ball causes noises and squeaks. (1991-94)

Recall History

1991 w/V6
Description: Incorrect transmission-fluid dipstick may have been installed.
Description: Camshaft plug can become dislodged, allowing oil to leak; can cause engine damage and fire.
Description: Latch in seatbelt buckle could engage only partially, causing tongue to come out during collision or hard braking.
Description: Excess electrical charge in the alternator can result in engine-control malfunction due to an improperly manufactured integrated circuit in the voltage regulator.

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.

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