THE RODEO is Isuzu’s answer to the all-American pick-up truck. I say that because I can just picture it doing battle with the rutted farm tracks of the Deep South while banjos play in the distance. But that ridiculous imagery soon evaporates when you get behind the wheel of the Denver Max Plus.

This plush pick-up from the Japanese motor manufacturer features the playthings you might find in an executive saloon: cruise control, two-tone leather upholstery, touch screen sat nav with DVD playback, CD/MP3/WMA compatibility, and even a Bluetooth hands free kit. And with a throbbing 3.0 litre common-rail diesel engine at its core, the Isuzu delivers oodles of power and torque, whether you’re on or off
the tarmac.

Even though the toy-toting truck is stacked to the roof with goodies, the real bonus is the savings you could make at the pump. Combined fuel consumption for this burly beast is a very decent 33.6mpg and you can expect around 40 miles per gallon on out of town straight stretches. CO2 emissions are just 222 g/km – not bad for a big lump of metal with a class-leading towing capacity of 3,000kg. Owners will, no doubt, also welcome the 12,000-mile/24-month service intervals and Isuzu’s three-year/ 60,000-mile mechanical warranty.

With all of the above considered, it comes as no bombshell that Isuzu has gone from strength to strength in the UK. The Rodeo is gaining a name for reliability and longevity among many of its toughest and most demanding customers, such as those within the construction and farming industries. That said, more and more ‘ordinary’ folk are also choosing to buy ‘lifestyle’ pick-ups, because not only are the double-cab models – such as the Rodeo on test here – roomy, with five-seats and four-doors, they can also offer comfort, as well as off-road ability, and will tow the largest horse trailers or caravans imaginable.

On top of everything else, the Denver Max Plus looks good parked outside the house. My test car was finished in silver – a colour that sets off its lines nicely. And with flared wheel arches, a purposeful stance, lots of shiny chrome, as well as stainless-steel side-steps, it has a strong road presence.

On the move, the Rodeo makes progress well; it gathers momentum like a big boulder rolling downhill, so, unsurprisingly, because it has a kerb weight of 1890kg, there is no real excitement factor when your foot is to the floor. Instead the Isuzu emits a satisfying sense of brute force and invincibility. It is a pleasant enough experience once you remember you are in a pick-up – not a car. The Rodeo is pretty much a rear-wheel drive affair for everyday road use, but you have the option of engaging 4WD at the touch of a button. There is also a two-speed transfer box for when it gets really wild off the black stuff. The braking system scrubs off speed well and occupant safety is good with twin front airbags as standard and side protection door beams for all doors. Also, if you have young children, as I do, ultra-safe Isofix child seat mountings are fitted to the rear seats.

Pick-ups certainly seem to be a good compromise these days and the Isuzu Rodeo Denver Max Plus is just the thing for all motoring occasions: it is a workhorse, a weekend towing-machine and a luxury family car all rolled into one. Priced from around £22,000 it is a bargain too.



Great towing machine

  • Powerful
  • Versatile
  • Lacklustre acceleration X


  • Max speed: 108 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.7 seconds
  • Combined mpg: 33.6 (unladen)
  • Engine: 2999 cc, 4 cylinder, common rail diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 163 at 3600 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 266 at 1800-2800 rp
  • Max. towing weight (braked) 3000 kg
  • CO2: 222 g/km
  • Price: £22,741 On the road


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