What better place to test the Isuzu Rodeo 4-wheel Drive utility vehicle but in Sequoia National Park. And that’s exactly what I did. However, I’ve never found a venue quite like those Jeep Jamboree’s that Chrysler puts on each year. I find myself comparing all utility vehicles with how I think they would fare in the same situation as the Jeep did in rugged off road conditions. I took the Isuzu on a less than challenging climb and found it to be a little top heavy. The center of gravity felt higher than other sport utilities I’ve driven. I checked it out and it is generally about 4 inches higher than the competition, except the Honda Passport that is a twin sister in all respects – virtually the same platform.
Isuzu joined the crowd of sport utilities in 1990 and this year’s model has been redesigned. The Rodeo is built in Lafayette, Indiana, and was the first Isuzu vehicle to be built in the U.S. Isuzu has discontinued its passenger-car line here. All things considered, this is a very comfortable vehicle and a pleasure to drive however not unlike all the others in its class. I’ve driven all those officially listed as competitors and this Isuzu Rodeo is every bit as good. I must admit, however, that the new entrant from Mercedes – the ML 320 was a standout at $33,950 especially relative to the price of this Rodeo and the others listed below. Yes, I know, Mercedes isn’t among the competition. The ML 320 competes with the likes of other luxury class SUV’s like the popular Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX4, Isuzu Trooper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover Discovery, Lincoln Navigator and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Well I’m here to tell you to drive the ML 320 and draw your own conclusions. Don’t take my word for it. You’ll say wow just like I did and you’ll know also that the Mercedes is going to be tough competition in all classes. I believe Mercedes is busting into the SUV market and buying a place in this very profitable segment of all automobile sales, with a low-ball price. Here is a comment from the Auto Channel Awards people who say, “Mercedes-Benz captures the Best Sports Utility Vehicle for its ML320. Superior handling; imaginative utilization of size and interior space; and the relatively low cost of the vehicle propelled the ML320 to the top”. Well those are my sentiments exactly, and I might add the ML320 is the only SUV with 4-wheel independent suspension. All others have a live axle.
Chevrolet Blazer $21,713 – $25,226, GMC Jimmy $21,836 – $25,905, Honda Passport $22,700 – $28,950, Jeep Cherokee $15,665 – $24,605, Mitsubishi Montero Sport $18,030 – $32,250, Nissan Pathfinder $23,999 – $32,849, Subaru Forester $18,695 – $22,195, Toyota 4Runner $20,658 – $34,718.
Comfortable ride, plenty of power, nice appearance, good attention to detail, nice interior.
Mileage is as bad as all other SUV’s, plain and unexciting styling, and poor visibility.
3.2 liter 205 horsepower V6 engine, 4-speed automatic trans, part-time 4-wheel drive shift of the fly, power 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, dual air bags, AM/FC Cassette stereo, child safety locks, AM/FM Stereo with cassette, tilt steering, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a luggage rack, cruise control, rear wiper/washer and power mirrors.
16 City and 20 Highway MPG.
MSRP is $28,910.