2000 Isuzu Rodeo-V6
Utility 4D LSE 4WD (V6)
Rodeos have long been solid machines that offer good value. Improvements and new features to the 2000 models make them even better. Changes include a restyled front end, improved seating, and new colors. Even more significant are a new computer-controlled suspension system and the introduction of what Isuzu claims is the longest powertrain warranty offered by any automaker in the US.
Two engines are available. All models except the base model come equipped with a 3.2-liter V6. A four-speed automatic transmission is a $1,000 option on S and LS models, but comes standard on LSE.
Isuzu's 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine is only available on the base S model with two-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Standard equipment on all Rodeos includes power steering, four-wheel antilock brakes, dual air bags, tinted glass, cargo area side boxes, and skid plates under the radiator and fuel tank. The base S model is equipped with a four-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo. V6 models add cruise control and a tilt steering wheel. Four-wheel-drive models add a transfer case skid plate. The spare tire is mounted under the floor on two-wheel-drive models and on the tailgate on four-wheel-drive models.
LS 2WD ($23,435) models include power mirrors, variable speed intermittent windshield wipers, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, 6-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo, retractable cargo cover, cargo convenience net, front and rear floor mats, remote keyless entry, theft alarm, color-keyed carpeted floormats, and a useful power outlet in the cargo area by the back door. Rodeo LS 4WD ($26,120) models also get a limited-slip rear differential.
The luxurious LSE ($28,790 for 2WD, $31,265 for 4WD) comes with Isuzu's new Intelligent Suspension Control system, leather trimmed seats and door panels, wood grain trim, a six-speaker AM/FM/cassette/6-disk CD changer stereo, power moonroof, alloy wheels, fog lamps, privacy glass, color-keyed trim and roof rack crossbars.
An optional Ironman Package ($1,052) is available on Rodeo LS models that commemorates Isuzu's sponsorship of the Ironman Triathlon race. Ironman LS models feature the Intelligent Suspension Control system; special beige velour upholstery; moonroof; Ironman Triathlon badging; Titan Gray trim, overfenders, and molding; 6-spoke alloy wheels; and Yokohama 245/70R-16 tires.
The most significant mechanical change to the 2000 Rodeo is the new Intelligent Suspension Control system. A dedicated onboard computer monitors vehicle speed, engine rpm, brakes, and input from a g-force sensors mounted on the chassis and integrated into the shock absorbers. The computer then directs step-motors that control shock valve blow-off points to adjust compression and rebound rates. The intent is to provide a smoother ride and reduced brake-dive and body roll. Sometimes it achieves that goal, sometimes it doesn't. The Intelligent Suspension Control system is optional on LS Rodeos and standard on LSE models.
Another notable change for the 2000 Rodeo isn't mechanical or cosmetic. It comes in the form of a generous 10-year/120,000 mile powertrain warranty (the basic warranty is still 3 years/50,000 miles). The powertrain warranty covers defects in materials or workmanship in the engine, transmission, suspension, steering assembly, and axles. It does not cover routine maintenance or adjustments.
On the downside, interior passenger space, particularly headroom, is still limited for taller people. The Rodeo seats five, but rear-seat passengers best be children or short adults. The optional moonroof further lowers front headroom by an inch, which is a lot. People shorter than 6 feet should find headroom adequate, however.
The Rodeo offers abundant cargo space, however; more than 81 cubic feet of cargo space is revealed with the rear seat is folded down. That tops other like-sized SUVs, particularly the Nissan Xterra (65.6 cubic feet). The Rodeo boasts slightly more space than the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4-Runner, which offer less than 80 cubic feet of cargo space.
We dropped the back seat and loaded the cargo area with a mountain bike, a very large float tube (a giant truck inner tube encased in nylon with a backrest that sticks up about 2 feet on one side of the tube), a couple of fly rods, and some other miscellaneous fishing gear. The Rodeo swallowed all that gear with room to spare.
Rodeo handled the open road well, too. The 3.2-liter V6 pushed us up Cajon Pass without slowing. The available 2.2-liter four-cylinder, while well built and reliable, seems too small for a vehicle that tops 3600 pounds. The 3.2-liter V6 is a much stronger engine and seems better suited to the Rodeo. As we neared the town of Bishop, the Rodeo defied a windstorm with gusts topping 40 mph, hugging the road better than other lighter or taller vehicles.
In the White Mountains east of the Owens Valley, the Rodeo tackled primitive roads and rough trails. We slowed to a crawl, but four-wheel drive kept us chugging along while the big 16-inch tires gripped exposed bedrock like claws. For 2000, 16-inch wheels and tires replace last year's standard 15-inch rubber; 225/70R16 tires are standard on S and LS models, 245/70R16 tires are standard on LSE models.
Basically unchanged this year is Rodeo's dependable four-wheel drive system. It's a part-time, shift-on-the fly setup. At speeds below 60 mph you simply push a button to shift into 4WD-high. To drop into 4WD-low you need to stop and shift a floor-mounted lever. All 4WD Rodeos come standard with limited-slip differential and rear disc brakes (2WD Rodeos have rear drums).
On less extreme terrain, where we had a little more speed over a series of moguls, the Rodeo tended to wallow. While the computer-controlled suspension provided a smooth and pleasant ride on the highway and on most dirt roads we traveled, it seemed slow to respond as we traversed the moguls. On the other hand, the Rodeo rode well at moderate speeds (about 30 mph) on one washboard road we took.
Back on paved mountain roads we found the Rodeo to be agile and sure. In radical transient maneuvers the rear-end loses traction before the front-end-just the way it should. The four-wheel anti-lock braking system works as expected and keeps the vehicle straight and true in emergency stops. In fact, the ABS even works well on rough dirt roads where other systems seem lacking.
Overall, the Rodeo offers a stable ride and responsive handling, a benefit of its ladder frame with eight cross members and box section main rails. Steel tubes in the doors, in addition to providing better passenger protection, also make the body more rigid, adding to it's inherent stability and solid handling.
The available 4-speed automatic features a winter mode. When it's engaged, the transmission starts out in third gear to prevent wheelspin on icy or snowy surfaces. The transmission also has a power mode that gives better acceleration by raising up-shift points. Both modes are controlled by well-placed pushbuttons in the center console.
Model as tested
Rodeo LSE 4WD ($31,265)
3 years/50,000 miles
Gas guzzler tax:
Price as tested
Options as tested
Model Line Overview
S ($18,080); S V6 ($20,985); LS ($23,435); LSE ($28,790); S V6 4WD ($23,440); LS 4WD ($26,120); LSE 4WD ($31,265)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual airbags, 4-wheel ABS standard
Safety equipment (optional)
Specifications as Tested
air conditioning, leather-trimmed seats and door panels, leather-wrapped wheel, power windows, cruise control, skid plates, variable intermittent windshield wipers, color-keyed bumpers, tailgate-mounted spare tire with cover, fog lamps, privacy glass, power brakes, tilt wheel, roof rack with crossbars, retractable cargo cover, power moonroof, AM/FM/cassette with six-CD changer
Engine & Transmission
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
205 @ 5400
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear