By KBB.com Editors
The once-robust Isuzu lineup is down to just two models: The Ascender SUV and the 2008 i-Series pickup truck. Although the i-Series shares a common platform with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, it offers a better powertrain warranty for those who don't put a lot of annual miles on their vehicles and tend to keep them for a longer time (seven-years/75,000 miles vs. five-years/100,000 miles). The tough little i-290 and i-370 are among the few remaining small trucks that can rightfully call themselves compacts, giving them an advantage in both maneuverability and fuel efficiency over their ever-larger rivals. If you're not looking to tow heavy loads nor require copious amounts of passenger space, the i-Series trucks make a great choice.
If you're looking for a rugged compact pickup offering good fuel economy and a great powertrain warranty, the 2008 Isuzu i-Series should be near the top of your shopping list.
If you're looking for a four-cylinder regular cab pickup with four-wheel drive, Isuzu doesn't make one. Those shopping for a crew cab pickup offering a V6 or V8 engine or a six-foot bed will also have to look elsewhere.
Some trim and package reconfigurations mark the major changes for 2008. Towing capacity for the i-290 is increased from 2,100 to 2,200 pounds, while the i-370 sees a 37-percent increase in towing capacity, jumping from 4,000 to 5,500 pounds. Traction control is made standard on all 4x2 Crew Cabs.
Driving Impressions The i-Series pickups are well mannered when traveling on paved surfaces, offering a comfortable ride and respectable acceleration. Some testers were not happy with the vague steering response and touchy...brakes, while others reported that traversing washboard surfaces caused the i-Series' rear end to jump about. In this regard, the i-Series pickups lag behind the standards set by the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. These same testers, however, praised the i-Series models for their off-road abilities, noting the narrow body was easy to maneuver in tight spaces and the four-wheel-drive system seemed undaunted by loose sand and rocky trails. We were pleased with our test truck's 3.7-liter engine, which averaged about 18 mpg in mixed city and highway driving.
The i-Series' tailgate can be set at a 55- or 89-degree angle, the former positioning the tailgate edge at the same height as the tops of the inner fender liners, which allows items longer than the bed -- such as that 4x8 sheet of plywood -- to be supported yet remain level. The tailgate is also removable and lockable.
Head-Curtain Side-Impact Airbags
The head-curtain airbags offer protection for both front- and rear-seat outboard occupants, and are standard on the i-370 Crew Cab and optional on the i-370 Extended Cab.
The i-290 Extended Cab offers an optional set of forward-facing rear jump seats separated by a small console with integral cup holders (standard on i-370). Given the cab's limited space, these seats will not comfortably accommodate adults. The i-370 Crew Cab offers better accommodations for four, providing a split-folding rear bench seat with fixed head restraints. Though front-seat legroom and headroom is ample, the i-Series' narrow cab makes for snug shoulder and hip room, and the flat seat cushions don't offer much in the way of long-term comfort. From a purely functional point of view, outward visibility is fairly open and the i-Series instrument cluster is large and legible. Esthetically speaking, however, the abundant grey plastic creates a rather industrial interior that is neither inspiring nor inviting.Exterior
From every angle but the front, it's hard to distinguish the i-290 and i-370 from their GM cousins, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Isuzu makes the truck its own by grafting on the company's signature chrome grille and badging. A 126-inch wheelbase serves as the platform for all trims, with the i-290 and i-370 Extended Cabs offering a six-foot bed and the i-370 Crew Cab a five-foot bed. Buyers can order a number of off-road and appearance packages, including larger wheels and tires, color-keyed wheel arches and graphic decals.
The i-290 Extended Cab pickup features a 2.9-liter, four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, 15-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), power steering, automatic on/off headlamps and a 60/40 split-bench vinyl front seat. The i-370 Extended Cab adds a 3.7-liter five-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, fog lights, sliding rear window, full carpeting, remote keyless entry, cloth front bucket seats, power windows/door locks/mirrors, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with six speakers, cruise control and two forward-facing rear jump seats. The Crew Cab 4x4 includes a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, locking rear differential and an off-road suspension.
Optional on the i-290 is the Preferred Equipment Package that adds an AM/FM stereo with CD-MP3 player, rear jump seats, full carpeting, tinted windows and an under-seat storage bin. A four-speed automatic transmission is also available. The i-370 Extended Cab offers an automatic locking rear differential, traction control, head-curtain side-impact airbags, six-disc CD changer and a rear bumper with integrated trailer hitch. The i-370 Crew Cab offers leather seating, six-disc CD changer, heated eight-way power driver's and six-way power passenger's seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The i-Series offer two engine choices. A 2.9-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine with an impressive 185 horsepower teamed to a five-speed manual transmission powers the i-290. As four-cylinder engines go, the i-Series is one of the most powerful and fuel-efficient in its class. Those needing more power can opt for the 3.7-liter in-line five-cylinder engine offered only on the i-370 Crew Cab. Rated at 242 horsepower, the 3.7-liter seeks to strike a balance between power and fuel economy.
2.9-liter in-line 4
185 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
190 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (2WD, manual), 18/24 (2WD, automatic)
3.7-liter in-line 5
242 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
242 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (2WD), 15/20 (4WD)
By Mac on Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable mechanically"
Cons: "Electrical issues, quality of parts knobs, seats.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have never broke down in this truck. I was disapointed when I found out the Chevy Colorado (the almost exact truck) was cheaper. My seat has torn at the stitching, the heat control knob broke (I replaced it $150 junk yard), heater has had electrical issues, and the chrome is separating from the grill. Like I said, I haven't been stranded but there are several small issues that have costed a great deal of money to fix and shouldn't have went wrong in the first place. Overall I rate this truck a 2 out of 5."
9 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Max on Sunday, February 05, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Vehicle drives quite well . Fuel economy : Town is 23.5 mpg . Highway is 28.2 mpg . I love the generous 7 year 70,000 mile warranty this vehicle has though I have never needed to use it . Rear folding seats are not very comfortable to set in on extended trips . For a 4 cylinder this truck has plenty of power for hauling and towing my small trailer . I would love to purchase another new truck like this but unfortunately Isuzu has discontinued making this truck in the USA ."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By butchie on Monday, January 23, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive great response"
Cons: "interior cheep non reclining seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"other than the cheeply made interior door handles and seats not reclining the truck is perfict tows my 38 ft flat bed with out issues i love it had no problems at all 2.9 is not to bad on fuel"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Matt on Friday, December 16, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Truck is no frills, moderate quality of materials. Proven very reliable for me and impressive for a four cylinder. I'm trading for more cab space but other than that I'd never have gotten rid of it."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By AlohaVikes on Sunday, January 16, 2011
overall rating 8 of 10rating details
"Basically a Chevy Colorado with a longer warranty and lower price tag. Pros: Inline 4 has plenty of power, have no problems on freeway. Problem free! No issues & I have 45K miles now. Gets good gas mileage for a pickup. Comfortable seating, great AC, nice MP3 audio. Rear doors are a GREAT addition. Storage under jump seats also helpful. Cons: Economy vehicle: some rattles and squeaks. No tilt seating, even on drivers' side. Suspension a little tight. Jump seats are small, seating tight, and a car seat BARELY fits. No center console/arm rest (and it's difficult to find one that fits. Overall: If you can only afford a car, but want a 2WD truck for $15K, this is the one to get."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Trish on Wednesday, September 01, 2010
overall rating 2 of 10rating details
"This vehicle gets poor gas mileage at this point it is getting about 5 miles to the gallon. It was purchased a a brand new vehicle."