Isuzu Rodeo (2003 – 2011) Review

Isuzu Rodeo (2003 – 2011) At A Glance

+Tough workhorse, excellent tow vehicle, tailgate drops lower than others, compatible with digital tachographs from 2007, good value.

-Originally less refined than many contemporary pick-ups but much improved from 2007 facelift, only one star Euro NCAP rating.

Isuzu liked to describe the Rodeo as the 'pick-up of professionals' so while it may not have been the most refined or luxurious of vehicles it was designed first and foremost for work. Thanks to Isuzu's background in larger commercial vehicles, it means the Rodeo is properly robust and strongly built.

Originally launched in 2003 the Rodeo built up a reputation as a good value, albeit fairly old-school, pick-up that was more no nonsense but also less refined than alternatives like the Mitsubishi L200. However it was given a substantial revamp in 2007 with a far better interior and a new engine that made it a much more viable option for those used to the quality of rival pick ups.

It was far better to drive than before but the new engines made the biggest difference. A new 2.5-litre diesel replaced the previous 3.0-litre unit and has much better throttle response with plenty of torque from low down. It's also much quieter and less coarse than the old engine. There's also a new 3.0-litre engine with 360Nm of torque which is ideal if you intend on towing.

There's plenty of choice too with eight models, single and double cab body styles, two diesel engines, two- or four-wheel drive and manual or automatic transmissions. The entry-level Denver model is well equipped for the money with air-conditioning, four electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless-entry central-locking, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a CD stereo with iPod connectivity. The top Denver Max LE is the more showy model favoured by private buyers and gets 18-inch Shadow Chrome alloy wheels, stainless steel mesh front grille and a body-colour hard top with locking tailgate.

Ask Honest John

What double cab pick-up truck is the best buy for £10,000?

"I'm interested in buying a double cab pick-up with a value up to £10,000, but there appears to be a wide choice. Do you have any recommendations as to what would be the best buy? Are there any horror stories attached to any models?"
The best is what in the UK is called an Isuzu Rodeo. Best 2.5 and 3.0 I-TEQ engines. Best 5-speed manual gearboxes. 3500kg towing weight. If you want horror, the chassis of Nissan Navara from 2005-2007 have been collapsing in the middle. Strongest chassis probably the Mitsubishi L200. You can look them all up in:
Answered by Honest John

Best used pick-up for under £4000?

"I am looking for a used two-door pick up. What do you recommend? "
I rate the best as the Isuzu D-Max (called Rodeo in UK) from 2008 with the 2.5 or 3.0 I-TEQ engine. Nice, ambly diesel engine. Lovely 5-speed gearshift. and we got 40mpg out of out 2WDs. (Also sold as the Chevrolet Colorado.) 4WD and Hi-Lander had torsion bar front suspension. 2WD standard models had front wishbones and coils, but no limited slip diff and they really need that for driving on dirt roads with no load.
Answered by Honest John
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