Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,800 – $5,600*

1999 Isuzu Rodeo

1998 Isuzu Rodeo

2000 Isuzu Rodeo interior

2000 Isuzu Rodeo

2000 Isuzu Rodeo

  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Standard antilock braking
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Engine noise
  • Fuel economy
  • Road noise

With the V6, a Rodeo accelerates better than most Japanese rivals, leaning toward the “sport” side of sport utility. Prices are not cheap, however, and Rodeo has no standout features that put it above the competition. That makes it an acceptable choice, but not a compelling one.


Redesigning of Isuzu’s U.S.-built midsize sport-utility vehicle gave it rounded styling and extra power. Honda again marketed a retrimmed Rodeo as the Passport. Both were built from an Isuzu design at the Subaru-Isuzu assembly plant in Indiana. Just slightly longer than its predecessor, the revised Rodeo measured four inches wider. Shortening the wheelbase by 2.3 inches helped reduce curb weight by 285 pounds. A flip-up rear window was retained from the prior generation, but a side-hinged tailgate replaced the former drop-down gate. Ordinarily, the spare tire sat under the cargo area, but an externally mounted spare tire was a no-charge option. Two Rodeo versions were offered: S and better-equipped LS, with either 2-wheel drive or part-time 4-wheel drive, the latter for use on slippery surfaces only. A dashboard switch replaced a floor lever to activate the 4WD shift-on-the-fly transfer case. A 4-cylinder engine was standard on the 2-wheel-drive Rodeo S, while a 205-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 was standard on the LS and available on the S. A manual transmission was standard with either engine, but automatic came only with the V6. A Rodeo could tow as much as 4500 pounds. Dual airbags were installed in a redesigned dashboard. Four-wheel antilock braking was standard, not optional as before. Rivals included the Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, and Toyota 4Runner.

Yearly Updates

1999 Rodeo
A new top-of-the-line LSE model joined the lineup for 1999, featuring leather upholstery and a power moonroof. Otherwise, only minor equipment changes were evident. An outside-mounted spare tire was installed on 4WD LSE models, and offered as a no-charge option on others. A tilt steering wheel now was standard in all Rodeos with the V6 engine.
2000 Rodeo
Adjustable shock absorbers were new this year and 16-inch tires replaced all 15-inchers, as Isuzu redesigned the front and rear fascias of this midsize SUV. Standard on the LSE and optional on LS, the new Intelligent Suspension Control featured a dashboard button to adjust shock damping between Sport and Normal settings. Honda Passports did not get the adjustable-shock system. A new Ironman package debuted for the LS, marking Isuzu’s sponsorship of the Ironman triathlon competition. The package included white or black paint over grey lower body panels, crossbars for the roof rack, and special graphics. Cruise control now was standard on V6 Rodeos, and an automatic transmission became standard on the LSE edition.
2001 Rodeo
In celebration of Isuzu’s 85th year, an Anniversary Edition was added, along with a revised Ironman Package for 2001.
2002 Rodeo
There were no significant changes for 2002.
2003 Rodeo
There were no significant changes for 2003.
2004 Rodeo
The Rodeo looses its 2-dr model and 4-cyl engine for ’04, but gains a new optional 3.5-liter 250-hp engine. Added midyear was a standard tire-pressure monitor.


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

Depending on the model, a Rodeo could have a mild-mannered 4-cylinder engine with 5-speed manual shift, or a 205-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 with either the manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. A 4-speed automatic transmission became available with the 2.2-liter I4 in 2001. New for 2004 is a 3.5 liter 250-hp V6 engine, which replaces Rodeo’s 4-cylinder.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/134
Engine HP 129-130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 144
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/193
Engine HP 205
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 214
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 250
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 246
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


Road Test

Rodeo’s suspension produces a stable ride without pitching or bouncing, though small bumps and imperfections produce unpleasant choppiness. Larger bumps and potholes are not absorbed nearly as well as they should be, as the ride becomes downright harsh.

Lack of power with the 4-cylinder engine and manual shift isn’t a big drawback. Rodeos with the V6 feel considerably livelier than before, promising brisk acceleration and good passing power. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly. An LS 4WD averaged 15.8 mpg in mixed driving–about on target for its class.

Interior space is greater than before, with good passenger room all around, except for a shortage of rear toe space. Even though the seat is not height adjustable and may not suit everyone, the driver enjoys a commanding position. The firmly padded seat earns high marks on its own. Controls for the climate and audio systems are recessed and demand a little too much of a stretch for no-distraction use by the driver. Stereo controls are too small, though the simple dashboard is otherwise pleasing.

Step-in height is a little lower than the midsize-SUV norm, so getting in and out is no great chore. Rear doors permit passengers to slip through fairly easily, though we’d be more pleased if they opened a bit wider. Forward visibility is fine thanks to the low cowl and hood line. Looking rearward, however, the optional outside spare tire interferes with the driver’s view. Operation of the new side-opening tailgate is a cumbersome, two-handed process.


Model Tested: 2001 Isuzu Rodeo LS 4WD

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 - 2
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 3

Total: 44


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.4 176.7-183.7 70.4 68.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
81.1 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 38.3 42.1 35.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Rodeo 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision 110
Injury 88
Theft 85

Trouble Spots

Description: Unless the front-fender liners have been replaced, ice and snow can build up between the door and fender which caused door damage when it is opened. (1998)
Fuel gauge
Description: The gas gauge may indicate full after a fill-up, then not move until the tank is half empty. (1998)
Rough idle
Description: High/erratic idle on the 3.2-liter V6 may be due to one or more of the following: bad electrical ground, debris in power steering pressure switch, leaking manifold gasket. (1998-2000)
Steering problems
Description: The steering wheel may shimmy or vibrate unless a steering-yoke spring kit is installed. (1998)
Transmission slippage
Description: Delayed transmission engagement, after sitting overnight, may occur due to torque-converter draindown. (1998-99)

Recall History

Description: Ground terminal was not properly crimped in engine-wiring harness, which will eventually cause stress fracture; could result in “no-start” or engine stalling.
1998 w/optional floormat
Description: Repeated movement of feet can result in shifting of mat, which could interfere with gas pedal.
Description: Paint was applied unevenly on rear axles of certain vehicles; could cause loosening of nut at lower-link bracket bolt.
Description: The rear-axle lower link may become separated from the rear axle.
Description: Vehicles fail to comply with federal requirement for “Occupant Protection in Interior Impact.”
Description: Airbag inflators may contain too much generant. Exploding airbag module could cause severe injury.
Description: Airbag will not inflate properly due to the absence of a necessary component known as a check-valve pin.
Description: The fuel-return hose does not meet ozone-resistant specifications and could crack, causing fuel leakage.
Description: In five specified states, if fuel has been contaminated with silicon, small pinholes may develop in fuel pump feed port; leakage could lead to fire.

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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