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May 20, 2018
Driving Dynamics
Owned mine for 7 years. Great quality. She has been through it all with drives up a mountain, snow, and minor collisions with objects. Recommend this car for first time drivers due to the dependability and the toughness. Also, holds pretty good value for the age of the vehicle, but you will getting multiple years out of this vehicle. do not like age deter you from this vehicle.
2001 Isuzu 1198 Rodeo 1168 10134
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Expert Reviews

Dean Stevens
powered by New Car Test Drive
Isuzu Rodeo admirably bridges the double demands on an SUV: handsome looks, a confident feel, and nimble highway manners on the one hand, and respectable off-road capability on the other. If that's a split personality, well, it's one personality disorder that we can live with.

For 2001, Isuzu celebrates 10 years of Rodeos with a special Anniversary Edition, featuring a full complement of luxury equipment and a special white-and-beige color scheme.

The Rodeo was redesigned in 1998, and freshened for 2000, so additional changes for 2001 are minimal. Tire sizes have been juggled somewhat, so 225/70R16's are found now only on four-cylinder Rodeos; all V6 models now wear 245/70R16s. Last year brought a benchmark powertrain warranty and an interesting computer-controlled suspension. Seats were improved, too, and are further refined for 2001.

Model Lineup
The Rodeo is available in three different trim levels: S, LS and LSE.

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 standard on LSE.

A 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine is only available on the base S model with two-wheel drive.

Standard equipment on even the basic Rodeo S ($17,990) includes speed-sensitive power steering, four-wheel antilock brakes, dual air bags, tinted glass, cargo convenience net, four-speaker AM/FM/cassette stereo and skid plates under the radiator and fuel tank. 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, automatic LS's and all LSE's; it mounts to the tailgate, with a hybrid hard/soft cover, on four-wheel-drive S and manual-transmission LS and all Ironman editions (see below).

LS 2WD ($23,300) models add power mirrors, variable speed intermittent windshield wipers, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, five-speaker AM/FM ETR stereo with cassette, retractable cargo cover, 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 ($25,960) models also get a limited-slip rear differential.

The luxurious LSE ($28,995 for 2WD, $31,430 for 4WD) comes with Isuzu's Intelligent Suspension Control system, leather trimmed seats and door panels, wood grain trim, a five-speaker AM/FM/cassette/6-disk CD changer stereo, power moonroof, alloy wheels, fog lamps, privacy glass, color-keyed exterior trim and roof rack crossbars.

Additionally, Isuzu offers a dizzying array of comfort, appearance, and preferred equipment packages, plus the two special editions described below:

The Anniversary Edition LS comes in Alpine White paint to harmonize with special Fawn Metallic lower body cladding, side moldings, bumpers, overfenders, aero roof rack side rails, and tail lamp trim. Floor mats are heathered beige, and tube side steps are just plain chrome. Soft leather upholstery and wood grain trim enhance an interior equipped with four-way power seats, a Nakamichi stereo, and privacy glass.

A revised Ironman Package ($2,790), also available on LS models, commemorates Isuzu's sponsorship of the Ironman Triathlon race. Offered only in Alpine White or Ebony Black, Ironman Rodeos are distinguished by Iron Gray Metallic lower body surfaces, overfenders, body side moldings and bumpers; with a lighter gray surround for the front bumper air intake. Other gray accents include gray heathered floor mats and gray tube side steps. Ironman Editions also pack the Intelligent Suspension Control system; four-way power driver's seat, cargo tray, privacy glass, and a sub-woofer.

Color availability has expanded for 2001. Atlantic Blue Mica, Rodeo's newest color, comes only on the S model. Ebony Black, Palazzo Red Mica, and Alpine White can now be ordered with any trim level or interior color; while various other paints are now restricted to a particular interior hue.

Otherwise, except for last year's eight-port grille, flush-mounted headlights and revised front and rear bumpers, the Rodeo's exterior appearance hasn't changed since the major reworking it received in 1998.

Now in its second year, Intelligent Suspension Control monitors vehicle speed, engine rpm, brakes, and input from g-force sensors mounted on the chassis. A 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.

Again for 2001, Rodeo comes with a generous 10-year/120,000 mile powertrain warranty, covering defects in materials or workmanship in the engine, transmission, suspension, steering assembly, and axles. It does not cover routine maintenance or adjustments. The basic warranty is still 3 years/50,000 miles, with 6 year/100,000 mile corrosion protection.

Last year, Isuzu made the Rodeo's seat bottoms bigger and deeper, and further enhancements have added even more comfort for 2001. Most of the controls are well placed and easy to operate, though the windshield-wiper post took awhile to figure out.

On the downside, interior passenger space, particularly headroom, is still limited for taller people. The Rodeo seats five, but rear-seat passengers should be children or short adults. The optional moonroof further reduces front headroom by an inch, which is a lot, although people shorter than 6 feet should still find headroom adequate.

However, the Rodeo offers abundant cargo space, more than 81 cubic feet of it with the rear seat folded down. That tops most other like-sized SUVs, particularly the Nissan Xterra at only 65.6 cubic feet. The Rodeo boasts slightly more space than the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4-Runner.

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), a couple of fly rods, and some other miscellaneous fishing gear. The Rodeo swallowed it all with room to spare.

Driving Impressions
We drove our Rodeo from Los Angeles to the Owens Valley in northeastern California. The Rodeo is nimble and responsive. It had enough power to easily move through crowded L.A. freeways and surface streets. The steering was precise and sure. Rodeo's compact size makes it a joy to drive.

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.

Rodeo's dependable four-wheel drive system is 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 a limited-slip rear 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 road, 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 a washboard road.

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 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.

Isuzu Rodeo delivers agile handling, off-road capability and roomy cargo space, all at an attractive price. This is an underrated SUV that deserves to be on more shopping lists.
Model as tested
Rodeo LSE 4WD ($31,430)
Basic Warranty
3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Lafayette, Indiana
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
Model Line Overview
Model lineup
S ($17,990); S V6 ($20,875); LS ($23,300); LSE ($28,995); S V6 4WD ($23,305); LS 4WD ($25,960); LSE 4WD ($31,400)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual airbags, 4-wheel ABS standard
Safety equipment (optional)
3.2-liter V6
4-speed automatic
Specifications as Tested
(LSE) air conditioning, leather-trimmed seats and door panels, leather-wrapped wheel, power windows, cruise control, skid plates, variable intermittent windshield wipers, color-keyed bumpers, 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
3.2-liter V6
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
205 @ 5400
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear
live axle
Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear
Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight
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2001 Isuzu Rodeo
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