Truly a pickup without compromise from the company that calls itself 'the pickup professionals', the 2011 Isuzu Rodeo range offers UK consumers the perfect blend of rugged ability with performance, comfort with style, and self-assured confidence with truck-like toughness.
Unlike other pickups, the Isuzu Rodeo doesn't just have bespoke parts, it's an entirely bespoke vehicle built from the ground up to take on a broad range of challenges in the widest variety of conditions.
Isuzu believes that a pickup isn't a pickup if it is not equally as good off-road as it is on the tarmac. Thanks to its commercial vehicle DNA and decades of Isuzu expertise, the Rodeo can make the toughest of jobs seem effortless and the inaccessible suddenly isn't.
In its latest form, the Isuzu Rodeo line-up presents UK consumers with a choice of eight models, single and double cab body styles, two diesel engines, two- or four-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmissions.
Prices for the 2011 Rodeo line-up range from Â£12,699 to Â£22,549 (commercial vehicle on the road), and because of their 1,000 kg-plus payloads, all Rodeos allow a VAT registered company to reclaim the VAT.
A choice of seven exterior colours is offered - with solid white as standard and two metallic and four mica colours available either as a Â£315 extra cost option (FOC on the two Max LE models).
Originally launched in the UK in November 2003, the Isuzu Rodeo underwent a substantial upgrade in 2007 with a plush new interior and world-beating new common-rail diesel engine joining the line-up to keep it a highly competitive vehicle in the hotly-contested UK market for 'lifestyle' one-tonne pickups.
The Rodeo was soon acknowledged as the most up-to-date and sophisticated vehicle in its class and quickly racked up numerous awards. These included: 'Best Double Cab Pickup' from Used Car Buyer magazine, 'Lifestyle Pickup Winner' from 4x4 magazine, the Caravan Club's '2005 Towcar of the Year / Utility Class' accolade and the 'Best-In-Class' title from WhatVan? magazine.
In addition to the Rodeo's competitive fuel economy, running costs are driven down by 12,000 miles or 12 months service intervals. Isuzu's legendary reliability is endorsed by a three-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper mechanical warranty, along with three-years' recovery and assistance cover. Extra underbody and box section rust proofing allows Isuzu Rodeo owners to also benefit from a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Outside the UK, the Isuzu Rodeo pickup is a remarkable global phenomenon. Known as the Isuzu D-Max in certain countries, it was launched in Thailand, where it is manufactured, in May 2002. Its remarkable combination of attributes quickly established this model as a global leader, with Isuzu exporting vehicles to more than 80 countries worldwide - including Australia where it wears a 'Holden' badge.
Selling in vast volumes, the Rodeo has been the world's Number One best-seller in the one-tonne pickup market since 1983.
Famed for its understated yet purposeful appeal, the super-tough appearance of the Rodeo range combines car-like detailing with a strong road presence.
Completely upgraded in 2007, the Isuzu Rodeo double-cab features a whole new look, with a new grille, projector-type headlamps, new bumper within inset foglamps and a new bonnet with intercooler intake.
The pickup's wide track is accentuated by 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 vehicles in this segment. Smoother rear side panels behind the cab have contours which are complemented by a new tailgate and rear lamps.
Sophisticated, car-like detailing extends to the multi-element headlamps, turn indicator 'repeaters' set in the door mirrors and tight panel-gaps throughout the body. The flowing surface treatment can be further enhanced by the choice of high-gloss mica or metallic paint.
The overall sensation of high quality is endorsed by the grab-type exterior door handles which have a substantial feel, but also an especially light movement, and the large wrap-round rear lights.
Spacious, comfortable and ergonomic interior
The neat sophistication of the Rodeo's exterior design is carried over into the interior styling, with a one-piece fascia, car-like soft-touch surfaces across the doors and fascia, plus efficient control ergonomics with all major controls readily at hand and a standard of seat comfort previously unheard of in a pickup.
Generously proportioned, the Rodeo seats are trimmed in a plush Moquette cloth which is also featured on the door trims. Featuring crisp, clear graphics, the three instrument dials are electro-luminescent. Large circular, adjustable air vents in the centre and outboard on the fascia, compliment the chunky, four-spoke steering wheel with a bold 'ISUZU' logo encircled inside a chrome ring. All Rodeos benefit from extensive cabin sound-proofing with insulation placed in critical areas of the bodyshell to heighten refinement.
The attractive centre stack houses easy-to-use rotary controls for the ventilation and air-conditioning, the audio and (where fitted) sat-nav systems, and below the top air vents, a digital clock and three selector buttons for the 'shift-on-the fly' drivetrain, allowing 2WD (2H) and 4WD (4H) to be engaged on the move at speeds up to 60 mph. For low ratio (4L) selection, the vehicle must be stationary but operation is equally simple.
Cabin space is generous with 1,004 mm of headroom and 1,450 mm of shoulder room, up front. To ensure that the majority of users can find a comfortable driving position, the driver's seat has 200 mm of fore/aft travel and the steering wheel is height-adjustable.
Rear seat passengers are also well looked after. Access is easy as the rear doors are much wider than most competitors and can be opened up to 68.5 degrees allowing easy entry and exit. The rear seat backrest is reclined to a greater angle (than many rivals) for improved comfort and rear legroom is also ample.
COMFORT & CONVENIENCE
The 2011 line-up of Isuzu Rodeo models encompasses four versions of the Double Cab 4x4 so customers can tailor their chosen vehicle to their specific needs and budget.
The entry-level Denver has a generous specification that includes as standard: air-conditioning, four electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless-entry central-locking, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, single-disc radio/CD player with MP3 capability and iPod connectivity. This model is priced from Â£16,049 (Commercial OTR).
Expected to be the biggest seller, the Denver Max costs just Â£1,000 more (from Â£17,049) and comes with additional features such as soft-type front bumper A-bar, stainless steel side-steps, an under (or over) -rail load bed liner, stainless steel door scuff plates, a 'double-DIN' radio with CD player and MP3 capability, plus Bluetooth hands-free kit and chrome-finish rear lamp protectors.
Priced from Â£19,299, the Denver Max Plus adds a two-tone leather interior, cruise control and a touch-screen colour sat-nav system to its standard specification.
The range-topping Denver Max LE benefits from 18-inch 'Shadow Chrome' alloy wheels with 255/60 R18 tyres, stainless steel mesh front grille, chrome finish bonnet garnish, and a body-colour hard top with locking tailgate. Pricing is from Â£21,549.
With its focus on hard work, rather than a work/leisure mix, the Rodeo Single Cab 4x2, which carries a Â£12,699 price tag, is equipped with tinted glass, ABS, front airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners, single disc radio/CD player with two speakers and an anti-theft alarm.
ENGINES & PERFORMANCE
Isuzu is the world's biggest manufacturer of diesel engines and appropriately, its four cylinder power units for the Isuzu Rodeo pickup range deliver best-in-class combinations of fuel-economy, emissions, performance and refinement.
Available in two capacities (2.5 and 3.0 litres), the Isuzu diesel for Rodeo is fitted with a top mounted intercooler and five-speed manual gearbox as standard. It features twin overhead camshafts with 16 valves, a stainless steel timing chain, and an advanced common-rail system operating at a high-pressure (180 MPa), with an electronically-controlled injection pump for precise and constant 'just-in-time' fuel supply. A variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) - with turbine blades that vary their pitch according to engine speed - provides strong pulling power throughout the rev-range.
For excellent pulling power, a large percentage of maximum torque is available from both engines at just 1,000 rpm - 60 percent (2.5) and more than 70 percent (3.0).
Featuring a 95.4 mm bore and short 87.4 mm stroke, the 2,499 cc engine is especially smooth, quiet and free-revving and runs on an 18.3:1 compression ratio. Maximum power is 136 ps at 3,600 rpm, with 294 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 3,200 rpm.
This engine complies with Euro4 emission standards and delivers class-leading fuel economy - 28.8, 39.8 and 34.9 mpg on the Urban, Extra Urban and Combined cycles - with a CO2 rating of 213 g/km.
The Isuzu Rodeo's 2.5-litre engine generates more power and torque than the previous generation 3-litre power unit, throughout the entire rev-range and delivers an especially strong performance between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm with much improved throttle response. With this engine, Rodeo accelerates to 62 mph in just 12.8 seconds - a 38 percent improvement on the previous model.
3-litre delivers 20 percent more power and torque
The 3-litre engine has the same cylinder bore, with a significantly longer stroke (104.9 mm) for a capacity of 2,999 cc. Its power output is up 20 percent to 163 ps and torque rises to 360 Nm for the manual transmission Rodeo - a 22 percent hike. Acceleration time to 62 mph is cut by 2.1 seconds to 10.7. Fuel economy figures are 26.9, 39.2 and 33.6 mpg (Urban, Extra Urban and Combined cycles), with CO2 emissions of 222 g/km.
When mated to the optional four-speed automatic transmission, the 3-litre engine is re-tuned to deliver a little less torque (333 Nm) but over a wider rev-band, from 1,600 to 3,200 rpm. This engine/gearbox combination returns fuel economy of 25.9, 35.8 and 31.4 mpg (Urban, Extra Urban and Combined cycles), with CO2 emissions of 237 g/km.
Standard transmission for Isuzu Rodeo is a five-speed manual gearbox with a high top gear ratio - 0.745:1 (2.5) and 0.790:1 (3.0) - for quieter and more fuel-efficient motoring at higher cruising speeds. Fifth gear, for example, now delivers a relaxed 27.9 mph/1,000 rpm in the 3-litre model.
Class-leading 'hauling' and 'towing' performances
The Rodeo's Double-Cab and Single-Cab cargo dimensions, payload capacity and towing weights are among the very best available in the UK's pickup marketplace.
The Double-Cab's cargo bay measures 1,360 x 1,340 mm and can accommodate a highly competitive 1,075 kg payload. This is comfortably over the tax-critical 1,000 kg threshold which allows companies to reclaim VAT. Towing weight is equally impressive at a class-leading 3,000 kg.
Off-road, the Rodeo Double-Cab's credentials promise an amazing capability. Ground clearance is a generous 205 mm while approach, departure and ramp angles are 34, 21 and 21 degrees. The maximum transverse angle is a remarkable 49 degrees and Isuzu's pickup can wade through 600 mm deep water at 5 mph. The rear axle even has a snorkel to enable the Rodeo to 'breathe' under water.
Optimised for a hard working life, the Single-Cab's cargo area is a massive 2,280 mm long and 1,520 wide, while the maximum payload is 1,235 kg. Ground clearance is 195 mm, wading depth 400 mm and towing capacity 2,500 kg.
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR
Decades of experience manufacturing some of the world's best-selling trucks and commercial vehicles, are incorporated into Isuzu's Rodeo pickup range which is 'built tough' from the ground up.
Maximising the attributes of a traditional ladder frame and separate bodyshell structure, the Isuzu Rodeo features the largest and widest chassis of any pickup with eight cross members and a reinforced cargo bed support. Highlighting this model's truck DNA, the heavy-duty rear axle has dual-taper wheel bearings, while the front suspension's upper control arms and stub axles are engineered for immense strength and longevity.
Rugged yet refined, the Rodeo's suspension is designed to deliver a smoother ride than most competitors, with an unusual degree of steering precision for this class. It features power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering rather than the less precise recirculating ball system still used by many one-tonne pickups.
Front suspension is fully independent employing double wishbones and torsion bars, with an anti-roll bar as standard. Rear suspension features a live axle suspended by semi-elliptic steel leaf springs for maximum simplicity and durability, plus the ability to absorb punishing payloads. The rear springs are carefully tuned to work in harmony with the front suspension to reduce the unladen ride choppiness displayed by many rival models. Ride comfort is further enhanced by the fitting of gas-filled double-acting shock absorbers, front and rear.
The Rodeo has a braking system especially designed for demanding commercial use when fully laden. It features large 280 mm ventilated front discs with twin-piston calipers which enhance braking performance and ensure even brake pad wear. The 295 mm rear drums are fitted with improved, fade-resistant pad material. The dual-circuit braking system has a large 230 mm (9.0 ins) tandem servo. In addition, all Rodeos have a sophisticated three-channel, four-sensor anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD).
Alloy wheels are standard on all Isuzu Rodeo Double Cab derivatives in the UK - 16 x 7 inch with 245/70 R16 tyres on most models, with 18 x 8.5 inch alloys and 255/60 R18 tyres for the Rodeo Denver Max LE.
SAFETY & SECURITY
The Rodeo's standard 'active' and 'passive' safety features are truly outstanding for a pickup - the result of Isuzu taking care of its product users bearing in mind that in many countries, such as in the Far East or on the Greek peninsular, this vehicle is chosen as the primary family car, as well as an everyday work mate.
The Isuzu Rodeo has built-in strengths that also deliver benefits in terms of safety. The separate ladder-frame chassis is 60 percent stiffer longitudinally and 50 percent stronger laterally - compared to the previous generation model. A special cross member at the rear of the chassis greatly increases torsional rigidity and spreads the weight of the payload more evenly.
Helping safety, refinement and durability is a single-piece cabin side panel. This is formed from galvanized steel, for maximum corrosion-protection, as are the cabin rear bulkhead, inner and outer door skins, bonnet, wings, wheel arch housings, load bay floor and sides, plus the tailgate. For maximum longevity as well as impact resistance, the fuel tank is made of polyethylene.
To help Rodeo drivers cope with everyday motoring hazards, 'active' safety features fitted as standard 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 wheel lock-up which can affect some pickups.
'Passive' safety kit fitted to all Rodeos includes twin front airbags and impact-resistant side protection beams for all doors. The front and rear of the bodyshell have special crush zones designed to provide maximum absorption of impact forces, while the centre section and chassis are specially reinforced.
Every Isuzu Rodeo occupant benefits from a three-point seatbelt - even for the rear centre passenger in double-cab models. The front seatbelts have pretensioners with load-limiters and are height-adjustable as are the two outer rear seatbelts. An ISOFIX child seat mounting is fitted to the two outer rear seats - making 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. An anti-theft 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 Isuzu Rodeo is locked and unlocked.