Long term test report: Isuzu Rodeo Denver Max Plus 3.0
It’s big, brash, and it fails to truly live up to its promise as a load-carrier, but James Marchington feels more than a tinge of regret as he prepares to wave goodbye to the Rodeo.
It’s been fun but the time has come; in a couple of weeks the silver monster is going. In a strange way I’ll be sorry to see its brash, hulking tailgate disappear into the sunset. Cars are like that. Try as you might to resist, they become part of you – even a workhorse like the Rodeo. Perhaps I’m being harsh, but some cars are easy to grow attached to. It was a wrench to sell my Saab 900 Turbo, even after it failed spectacularly in the fast lane, shrouding a mile of the M3 in choking white smoke. It takes a special kind of person to fall in love with the Rodeo. It’s the smoker in the restaurant, the guy ostentatiously munching a beefburger at a vegan rally – a car that says: get out of my way if you don’t want my carbon footprints all over your ethically sourced, tribal hemp kaftan. I’m not that person – really I’m not. But at times I’ve caught myself slipping into the role and almost beginning to enjoy it. Can a car change your personality? Perhaps it can – now there’s something for the global warming doom-mongers to fund research into.
One of my last trips in the Rodeo was to visit a farmer near Braintree in Essex, a journey that unexpectedly took me all the way round the M25 and through the full gamut of emotions from adoration for the brute to utter despair and back again. Things began well enough. Despite overnight rain, the Rodeo started with a flick of the key, as it has done, rain or shine, throughout the time I’ve been running it. Familiar now with its bulk, blind spots and restricted turning circle, I reversed confidently onto the road and set off, punching in the destination postcode. Oh. I stared at the empty blue screen, known to computer geeks worldwide as The Blue Screen of Death. The manual was little help, and removing the ignition key had no effect. Eventually, frantic stabbing at buttons produced a result: “Restart navigation Y/N?” I gave it the name of the next village in case the farmer’s postcode had special powers, like the spells Shakespeare is supposed to have hidden in the script for Macbeth. It behaved impeccably for the rest of the journey.
Once on the M25, I had a whale of a time playing with the cruise control. Well, you need something to keep you sharp, and changing lanes without hitting the cats’ eyes soon loses its appeal. The challenge is to go as far as possible without disengaging the cruise control. Sounds easy, but when you’re boxed into the inside lane and bearing down on a slow-moving truck, it takes a keen sense of timing and nerves of steel to keep your foot off the brake pedal. One side effect of my little game is that it does wonders for fuel consumption. As I approached the Dartford Tunnel, I was rewarded by the dashboard display showing 35.1mpg for the first time in six months.
So I arrived in the farmyard full of love for the Rodeo and was sure my farmer friend would be suitably impressed. “Hmph, I looked at one of those. Hopeless,” he said cruelly. “The double cab means you’ve no room in the back. Even if you could fit a tonne in there, it’s over the back axle. The front wheels would probably leave the ground.” OK, I had to admit it wasn’t best suited to carrying heavy, bulky loads. “What do you need it for then?” Good question. And the answer is I don’t. I could have made the trip in a quieter, smoother vehicle at twice the mpg. The dogs would have somewhere warm and dry to travel, without taking up the rear seat. And I’d be able to fit in more camera bags, fishing rods and what-have-you into a protected, lockable space. But would it be as much fun? I think not, and that’s why despite everything, I’ll be sorry to see the beast go.
Isuzu Rodeo Denver Max Plus 3.0
|Price when new:||£21,985|
|Price as tested (including options):||£22,355|
|Optional extras:||Metallic paint|
|Engine:||2999cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Power output:||161bhp at 3,600rpm|
|Maximum torque:||266lb ft at 1,800 to 2,5000rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||3,000kg|
|Fuel consumption:||33.6mpg (official combined)
35.1mpg (on test)
|CO2 emissions (Taxband):||222g/gm (CV)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||n/a|
|Size (Length/width with mirrors):||5,080/1,800mm|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||1 star|
|Date arrived:||2nd November 2011|
|Mileage to date:||10,379miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||None|