A substantial facelift, plush new interior and world-beating new common-rail diesel engine are highlights of the new ’07 Isuzu Rodeo which enters showrooms from April fully armed to make a major impact in the hotly-contested UK market for ‘lifestyle’ one-tonne pickups.
Originally launched in the UK in November 2003, the Rodeo racked up three major awards in its first year of going on sale, being acknowledged as the most up-to-date and sophisticated in its class.
The Rodeo’s tally of awards includes Japan’s ‘2005 Good Design Award’, ‘Best Double Cab Pickup’ from Used Car Buyer magazine and ‘Lifestyle Pickup Winner’ from 4×4 magazine.
The Rodeo also won The Caravan Club’s ‘2005 Towcar of the Year – Utility Class’ accolade plus ‘Best-In-Class’ title from What Van? magazine.
Now, with its fresh new look and outstandingly refined, powerful and fuel-efficient diesel engine plus improvements to its already plush interior, the new-look Rodeo is set to regain its crown.
The new three-model range will comprise the Rodeo, Rodeo Denver Max and later in the year a Rodeo Denver Max LE which will boast an uprated engine courtesy of Prodrive plus an ultra-luxury interior and lavish equipment tally.
All models feature safety features normally only found on passenger cars such as ABS with EBD, twin front airbags, door-intrusion beams, front and rear crush zones and three-point seatbelts for all occupants – even the rear centre passenger.
Because of their 1,000kg-plus payloads, all Rodeos allow a registered company to reclaim the VAT. Meanwhile, despite recent tax changes, company car drivers still enjoy a substantial saving compared to someone running a typical mid-sized saloon, estate, MPV or 4×4.
This fifth-generation Isuzu pickup is sold in vast volumes in more than 80 countries worldwide wearing, for example, ‘Holden’ badges in Australia.
Not only does it have a 37 per cent market share in Thailand where it is built, selling a staggering 167,000 units in 2006, but Isuzu has been Number One best-seller in the one-tonne pickup market since 1983.
Elsewhere, the Rodeo has a 79 per cent market share in Egypt, for example, 43 per cent in Israel and more than 32 per cent in Australia and New Zealand. Annual production exceeded 379,000 units in 2005 and Isuzu Operations Thailand is the biggest exporter of pickups in the world.
Meanwhile, the Japanese parent company of Isuzu is the Number One best seller worldwide for medium-duty trucks (gross vehicle weight between 6.1 and 16 tonnes) with 75,944 sales in 2004, for example.
Isuzu is also the biggest diesel engine producer in the world and on 7 November, 2006, signed a business agreement with Toyota of Japan giving Isuzu authority to take the lead in small diesel engine research and development. Toyota’s share in Isuzu is 5.9 per cent.
Prices for the five-seat, four-door ’07 Isuzu Rodeo range – which is exclusively 4×4 – are: 2.5 litre Rodeo (manual) – £13,990, 2.5 litre Rodeo Denver Max (manual) – £15,990 and 2.5 litre Rodeo Denver Max LE (manual) – £19,990 (all On-The-Road but excluding VAT).
Due later in the year, the new ’07 Rodeo Denver Max LE will boast the ultimate in pickup luxury at an affordable price – especially for business users.
Priced at £19,990 On-The-Road (excluding VAT) in manual form, standard equipment will include a Prodrive Performance Pack and 18ins Shadow Chrome alloy wheels with 255/60 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres. It also boasts leather seats and door inserts, an LE mesh grille, a tough load-liner and a new branded LE hard top.
In addition, customers benefit from a DVD satellite navigation system with touchscreen plus a high-tech Bluetooth kit – useful following recent legal changes regarding mobile ‘phones.
Other Max features include a soft-type front A-bar, chrome side steps, rear step bumper, rear light guards and brushed steel door entry guards.
This is in addition to air-conditioning, four electric windows, leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless-entry and selectable ‘shift-on-the-fly’ 4WD or 2WD at speeds up to 60 mph.
Still under development, its Prodrive Performance Pack is expected to boost the 2.5 litre turbo-diesel engine’s power from 136 PS to in excess of 160 PS with a torque target of 250-plus lb ft.
Expected to be the biggest seller – and costing £15,990 OTR (excluding VAT), the new Rodeo Denver Max features chrome side-steps, soft-type front A-bar, rear step bumper and brushed steel door entry guards.
The Rodeo Denver Max also features keyless-entry and Bluetooth kit and load-liner and a radio with six-disc CD autochanger with MP3 capability.
Despite being the entry-level model, the new Rodeo has a specification befitting a mid-range passenger car.
For example, air-conditioning, four electric windows, 16 ins alloy wheels, keyless-entry central-locking, electro-luminescent instruments and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are all standard as is a radio with single-disc CD player with MP3 capability and iPod connectivity. Like its sister models, high-intensity, projector-type headlamps are standard as well as a trip computer with fuel consumption read-out.
Costing £13,990 OTR (excluding VAT), the Rodeo also has a fully carpeted interior, a slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox, conventional floor-mounted handbrake, and fascia-mounted selection of 4WD or 2WD up to speeds of 60 mph.
Famed for its understated yet purposeful appeal, the ’07 Rodeo’s tough new look combines car-like detailing with a strong road presence.
The front-end is completely new with new bonnet, intercooler intake, bumper, wings, grille and projector-type headlamps.
The rear side panels behind the cab are also revised, with smoother contours complemented by a new tailgate and rear lamps.
All Rodeos have wide tracks and clearly-defined wheelarch swage lines – further enhanced by chunky-looking extensions.
The cab design itself is especially well integrated with the load bed – avoiding the boxy, add-on look of many of the Rodeo’s competitors.
Car-like detailing extends to indicators now set in the door mirrors and tight panel-gaps. The facelifted Rodeo’s flowing surface treatment is further enhanced by the high-gloss mica or metallic paint.
Even the exterior door handles have a substantial feel yet exude quality, being of grab-type design but with an especially light movement.
Practical exterior details include large wrap-round rear lights and a tailgate with lip spoiler.
Considerable thought and effort has gone into the ’07 Rodeo’s interior, resulting in car-like standards of soft-touch surfaces such as the doors and fascia plus ergonomics and seat comfort previously unheard of in a pickup.
The stylish one-piece fascia would not look out of place in an upmarket executive saloon with all major controls readily at hand.
Air-conditioning controls are easy to use rotary dials and all models have four-speed wipers with intermittent control. The improved manual gearbox is especially slick-shifting and every variant also has a floor-mounted handbrake.
A fascia-mounted button allows the driver to select ‘shift-on-the fly’ allowing 4WD or 2WD to be engaged on the move at speeds up to 60 mph. For low ratio, the vehicle must be stationary but selection is equally simple.
As part of the ’07 facelift, the new-look Rodeo has new plush cloth seat and door trim, new instruments with electro-luminescent dials, new circular centre and side air vents, a new silver-effect centre console and a new steering wheel with a bold ‘ISUZU’ encircled in chrome.
All Rodeos benefit from extensive cabin sound-proofing with insulation placed in critical areas to heighten refinement.
Interior space is also generous with the rear seat backrest slanted at a comfortable angle unlike many competitors which have a near vertical rake. Rear seat legroom is also ample.
Equally, the rear doors are much wider than most competitors and can be opened up to 68.5 degrees allowing easy entry and exit.
Headroom is 1,004 mm with shoulder room of 1,450 mm. In addition, the driver’s seat has up to 200 mm of travel.
As befitting the world’s biggest manufacturer of diesel engines, the new Rodeo’s 2.5 litre common-rail diesel engine is an outstanding unit offering class-leading fuel economy and exceptional refinement.
Key features are twin overhead camshafts with 16 valves and an advanced common-rail system with an electronically-controlled fuel-injection pump.
Exceeding Euro4 emission standards, this all-new engine has a common-rail system which runs at a high-pressure 180 MPa for precise and constant ‘just-in-time’ fuel supply.
This ensures a fine particle spray which improves fuel economy and reduces emissions by providing a more complete combustion process.
The variable vane, intercooled turbocharger is also new and – because the turbo blades vary their pitch according to engine speed – provides stronger pulling power throughout the rev-range.
Featuring a 95.4 mm bore and short 87.4 mm stroke, this four cylinder engine is especially smooth, quiet and free-revving and runs on a 18.3:1 compression ratio. It is not related to the discontinued Isuzu Trooper’s common-rail engine which used engine oil to pressurise its fuel-injection pump.
Not only is power a high 136 PS at 3,600 rpm but torque – so essential for towing and mid-range acceleration – is a sturdy 217 lb ft at only 1,800 rpm.
This is a full 36 PS more than the old 2.5 litre and even 5.5 PS better than the previous 3.0 litre while torque is also up showing improvements of no less than 50 lb ft and 10 lb ft respectively.
As a result, the new Rodeo is a full 6.5 mph faster than even the old 3.0 litre at 102.5 mph, while the 0-62 mph time is now 12.8 seconds – a 38 per cent improvement on the previous 2.5 litre.
Fuel economy is class-leading at an outstanding 28.8, 39.8 and 34.9 mpg on the Urban/Extra Urban and Combined cycles. Meanwhile the CO2 is also class-leading and comes down from the old 3.0 litre’s 243 g/km to 213 g/km.
Closer scrutiny of the new Rodeo 2.5 litre’s power and torque graph shows it to not only exceed the old 3.0 litre’s throughout the entire rev-range but significantly so from 2,500 to 3,500 rpm. This means the new vehicle is much more throttle responsive at higher speeds, avoiding the old model’s tendency to ‘run out of breath’.
As with the previous Rodeo, Isuzu plans to offer a Prodrive Performance Pack on the new 2.5 litre. This will be standard on the range-topping Rodeo Denver Max LE.
Target power is in excess of 160 PS with torque of 250-plus lb ft and – as with the previous 3.0 litre – the extra performance is achieved not through extra turbo boost but via a reprogrammed Electronic Control Unit which uprates the fuel supply and alters the ignition timing.
As turbo boost is unaffected, engine strain is not increased and allows Isuzu (UK) Limited to include PPP under its normal three year/60,000 mile warranty.
Partly because of their clean and efficient engine combustion systems, all Rodeos have exceptionally long service intervals of 12,000 miles including an oil change.
The Rodeo’s standard safety features are truly outstanding for a pickup and illustrate its importance worldwide where in many countries it is chosen as a family car such as in the Far East or the Greek peninsular.
Standard features include a three-channel, four-sensor anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD). This latter feature is especially important on a pickup which has to cope with a wide variation between laden and unladen weight.
The Rodeo’s EBD compensates for the front and rear load differences during braking – before the ABS intervenes – preventing rear axle lock-up which can afflict some pickups. The front brakes also have twin piston callipers which enhance braking effort and even out pad wear.
As part of the facelift, the ’07 Rodeo has an uprated braking system with a larger 230 mm (9.0 ins) tandem servo. The brake pad material is also changed for better fade-resistance.
All Rodeos also have twin front airbags with side protection door beams for all doors. The front and rear of the body have special crush zones designed to provide maximum absorption during impacts while the centre section and chassis are specially reinforced.
The cab rides on a separate chassis which is stiffer and more resistant to bending in the longitudinal zone by 60 per cent and 50 per cent stronger laterally compared to the old TF pickup. A special cross member at the rear of the chassis greatly increases torsional rigidity and spreads out the payload more evenly.
Helping both safety, refinement and durability is a single-piece cabin side which is also galvanized for maximum corrosion-protection as are the cabin rear panel, inner and outer doors, bonnet, wings, wheel well housings, tub floor and sides plus the tailgate.
And on the subject of longevity, even the fuel tank is rust-resistant, being made of polyethylene unlike the vulnerable steel tanks of many other models.
Rodeos supplied by official importer, Isuzu (UK) Limited, also enjoy extra rustproofing. This involves a heavy-duty wax coating for the underbody and cavity-injection of crucial box-sections.
The front seatbelts have impact load-limiting pretensioners and are height-adjustable as are the two outer rear seatbelts.
Every Rodeo occupant also benefits from a three-point seatbelt – even for the rear centre passenger.
And ISOFIX child seat mountings are fitted to the two outer rear seats. This makes the Rodeo ideally suited for use as a ‘lifestyle’ family vehicle.
Passenger car-like security features include an engine immobiliser for all models plus a warning reminder should the ignition key be left in the vehicle inadvertently.
Meanwhile, an alarm is standard together with central door locking with a keyless entry facility featuring a rolling code for even greater security.
This works by changing the code between the key and the vehicle every time the Rodeo is locked and unlocked – like shuffling a pack of cards.
Cargo dimensions, payloads and towing weights are among the best available with, for example, a maximum load floor length of 1,380 mm. The Rodeo also has a highly competitive 1,075 kg payload.
This is comfortably over the tax-critical 1,000 kg threshold. The towing weight is equally impressive at a class-leading 3,000 kg.
The Rodeo 4×4’s ground clearance is a generous 205 mm while approach and departure angles are 34 degrees and 21 degrees.
The facelifted ’07 Rodeo has a new five-speed manual gearbox with revised ratios giving higher gearing for quieter high-speed cruising. Fifth gear, for example, now pulls a relaxed 27.9 mph/1,000 rpm. This also improves the already excellent fuel economy.
All models have a fascia-mounted button to select ‘shift-on-the-fly’ allowing 4WD or 2WD to be engaged on the move at speeds up to 60 mph. For low ratio the vehicle must be stationary but selection is equally simple.
Isuzu has taken the Rodeo’s all-terrain abilities very seriously. For example, even in 2WD mode a rear limited-slip differential provides added traction in slippery conditions.
And the rear axle even has a snorkel to enable the Rodeo to ‘breathe’ under water. Extensive under body protection includes skid plates in selected vulnerable areas.
The Rodeo has a braking system especially designed for demanding commercial use and features large 280 mm ventilated front discs and 295 mm rear drums with improved, fade-resistant pad material for the new model. The dual-circuit braking system has a new, larger tandem servo measuring 230mm.
In addition, all Rodeos have a sophisticated three-channel, four-sensor anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD). Generous 245/70 R 16 tyres are fitted to 16 x 7 ins alloy wheels on the Rodeo and Rodeo Denver Max and 255/60 R 18 tyres on 18 x 8.5 ins alloys on the Rodeo Denver Max LE.
Rugged yet refined best describes the Rodeo’s suspension which combines the toughness needed for heavy-duty use with precise steering and a smoother ride than most competitors.
The Rodeo features rack-and-pinion power-assisted steering as used on virtually all passenger cars. This replaces the less precise recirculating ball steering of its predecessor. Some one-tonne pickups still persevere with recirculating ball which lacks the feed-back and precision of the Rodeo’s system.
Front suspension is independent for a better ride, employing wishbones and torsion bars. An anti-roll bar is standard.
Standard rear suspension layout for a one-tonne pickup is a live axle suspended by semi-elliptic steel leaf springs. This is favoured by hard-working contractors because of its simplicity, durability and ability to absorb punishing payloads.
However, for the Rodeo, Isuzu has carefully tuned the rear springs to work in harmony with the front suspension to reduce the unladen choppiness displayed by many rival models.
Ride comfort is further enhanced by the standard fitment of gas-filled double-acting shock absorbers for both the front and rear suspension.