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Iím not going to tell you my life story here. Nobody here at Ciao UK REALLY cares how I managed to get into a situation that required me to purchase another vehicle less than six months after my last one. So, letís just start here: I purchased a 1993 Isuzu Rodeo a couple of months ago.
This vehicle is a sport utility vehicle designed to conserve fuel and give a comfortable ride Ė not win rally-car races or outrun Grannyís Cadillac. It reaches highway speed without any problems and provides a smooth enough ride, which is all I really care about.
The 1993 Rodeo is a mid-sized boxy affair with plenty of room for passengers and cargo alike. (Itís more squared-off than the year model featured in the product photo Ė and I happen to like my version a little better because it has a more ďruggedĒ look to it.) There are four windows that can be rolled down manually. There are also two permanent windows in the back (cargo area) that provide plenty of visibility when backing up or checking out whatís behind you. The rear cargo area also features a rising glass pane that can be locked for security reasons Ė or to keep those dastardly hostages from escaping.
Mine is a sort of apple red, but there are other more subdued colors (such as black or a dark green thatís almost aqua in nature). The paint job needs a little touch-up work, but is intact for the most part. The interior features tan colors and dark
The engine needs a little work, which I just discovered yesterday when a funny grinding noise developed. Itís not serious, however. Iím not complaining Ė the engine has over 200,000 miles on it, so itís well deserving of a little repair work if you ask me.
Speaking of the engineÖI really like it. Itís a small four-cylinder 2.6-liter designed by Isuzu to conserve fuel and provide a bit of performance at the same time. Maintaining it is actually quite easy, though I recommend using a funnel to add fresh engine oil (the opening isnít even two inches in diameter Ė very easy to miss).
Tuning it up is
a breeze, as most of the components are within easy reach for those of us who donít have enormous hands. If youíre a girl, this is going to be easy. If youíre a guy with a hand large enough to grip a basketball, get your girlfriend to help you.
Other than that problem, my Rodeo is in great shape considering that it was manufactured a decade ago.
The five-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly (without the help of a tachometer, which would make me very happy). First gear is very, very low, so Iím almost tempted to ignore it and start in second Ė a bad idea but one that would probably be more convenient for me.
Isuzu makes four-wheel-drive Rodeos, but mine is the two-wheel-drive option. I donít mind this because I find that my Rodeo gets in and out of muddy fields (i.e. the one that leads to my house Ė and the only way to GET to my house!) without problems provided that I keep decent all-terrain tires on the back.
The four-wheel-drive Rodeos are a little more expensive, and are harder to find in my area unless youíre willing to settle for one thatís been run to hell and back. If thatís the case, youíre obviously looking at more repair work and maintenance than I am.
Either way, the Rodeo sits on a four-wheel-drive chassis, which makes handling a little rough. A good suspension system helps this, but please remember that you arenít driving a luxury sedan: itís going to be a little rough even on the highway.
The anti-sway bar on the front helps maintain a balanced center of gravity, which of course helps prevent rollover incidents. Even so, this SUV wasnít designed to take sharp turns at 60 MPH.
Now, on to the interior of the Rodeo:
Instruments, gauges, dials and other controls are set up in a logical manner and are very easy to reach. Push-buttons on either side of the instrument panel operate headlights and windshield wipers. This took a little bit of time to get used to, but once I got the hang of it I fell in love with the concept. Iím a sucker for convenience Ė what can I say?
The only problem is that the Rodeo isnít equipped with a tachometer or one of those sissified lights that read ďSHIFTĒ when itís time to change gears. I donít like the shift light (makes me think the manufacturer believes its buyers to be complete idiots), but it would be nicer than relying completely on sound and speedometer readings.
A well-padded bench seat takes up the front of the Rodeo. Itís comfortable and easy to move forward or backward with a lever underneath the driverís side. The headrest (a padded, plastic-covered thing) doesnít do much for me: to use it, Iíd have to lean wayyyy back, which would just be weird (it would also make it very hard for me to see).
Long drives are nothing in this vehicle. Whether youíre running to the grocery store up the street or driving an hour at a time, youíll find that the seats are comfortable, the safety restraints donít choke you or rub your neck raw, and Ė of course Ė that your butt has refrained from going numb.
The pedals are roughly the size of saltine crackers, but I like them because theyíre spaced out adequately. My big, clumsy foot doesnít confuse the brake with the clutch Ė and of course, said foot doesnít find itself half on the accelerator and half on the brake. If youíve ever had that happen, youíll know what I mean when I say itís the most annoying thing in the world save for that strange itching sensation in your buttocks (while youíre in public and cannot remedy it without committing a social sin).
I had to purchase an aftermarket stereo system to replace the factory version (it was removed by the auction lot that sold the vehicle to the dealership that sold it to me Ė I hope youíre as confused as I am now). However, Iíve invested just a couple of hundred dollars into the entertainment system and itís paying off nicely. There are four speakers Ė two in the rear cargo area and two at the very front Ė that provide excellent sound coverage depending on the quality of the installed system and speakers.
Storage space is more than adequate. The rear cargo hold (part rising glass window, part dropping tailgate) is actually easy to open, which was a nice surprise. I expected it to be a pain in the butt considering that the spare tire is mounted on a rack that swings outward from the rear gate.
Lowering the tailgate allows for easy loading and unloading of groceries and all that other good stuff college students such as myself like to lug around (like $300 worth of textbooks, which will only be used for a few months and then sold back to the college for the whopping sum of $50 Ė those con artists). Because the cargo area is carpeted, I would highly recommend either Scotch-guarding it or laying something down (i.e. a tarp) before loading anything that will stain it (like a greasy auto part, for example, which Iíve had to haul before).
The rear bench seat can hold three people, but I donít recommend putting a full-sized adult in the middle. The window seats feature shoulder restraints for added safety, and there are also ďoh sh** handlesĒ in case the driver (yours truly) decides to get a bit liberal on turns.
Overall, the Rodeo is easy to drive and is perfect for driving four or five people around. Well, you could put two up front with the driver (with a lap belt for the middle passenger), but that person would get in the way of the gearshift, so donít bother. Itís a fun, easy-to-drive vehicle that offers everything I need: reliability, cargo room, a little ground clearance to get through my ďroad,Ē and a price tag that doesnít make me cringe.
Retail value according to the Kelley Blue Book (the standard for automotive pricing in America) is set at a little over three thousand dollars, which is about what Iím paying for it after all is said and done. Insurance costs me forty dollars a month because itís listed on my mother and fatherís policy (perfectly legal but a lot cheaper than other alternatives).
Five stars because the problems I mentioned are either A: part of what you get when you buy a decade-old vehicle or B: easily fixed with inexpensive aftermarket accessories. Also because, if I could purchase a brand-new vehicle, I would go to an Isuzu dealership first.
Inexpensive, but I still cant bloody afford one!
mdstone 01.10.2003 14:56
A peugeot 206 is my cup of tea!
Nar 15.09.2003 06:30
This is a great review. You will know now that no one in the U.K will actually be able to buy this car unless they buy it in specially. I'm surprised no one has told you that since GM own Isuzu partly, the car here is called a Vauxhall Frontera and it has been a mixture of good and bad over the years. The only Isuzu engine this car has in the UK is the diesel versions, which are by and far the better options. N
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