The History Of Isuzu Wizard

The Isuzu MU Wizard was a compact SUV made by Japan-based manufacturer Isuzu. The MU Wizard was introduced in 1990 as a 1991 model, and it ceased production in 2004. Isuzu manufactured several variations to the Wizard for sale in other countries. The United States has had two versions: the Isuzu Rodeo and (until 2002) the rebadged Honda Passport. Opel/ Vauxhall and Holden each also sold rebadged versions of the vehicle. It was also sold as the Chevrolet Frontera in Egypt and the Isuzu Frontier in South America

A version of the Wizard called the Isuzu Rodeo was manufactured at Subaru-Isuzu Automotive, Inc. (now, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.) in Lafayette, Indiana. Isuzu was rumored to prefer the "ro-DEE-o" pronunciation over "ro-DAY-o". The vehicle was still considered an import, as 75 percent of its parts were made overseas.

First generation


The Rodeo made its debut in 1991. The mid-size SUV was available with either a 2.6L 4-cylinder engine or a 120hp (90kW), 3.1L V6 made by General Motors. An automatic transmission was available for the latter.

The vehicle was available with four-wheel drive with manually locking hubs on the S version and automatically locking hubs on the XS and top-of-the-line LS. Rear anti-lock brakes were standard feature, but not an option for all four wheels.

All models had a rear seat bottom which folded forward and rear seat back which folded down; this vastly extending the 35 cubic foot (1.0 m³) cargo area. The vehicle's lug wrench was stored under the seat bottom, concealed by a carpeted Velcro flap. The jack was located behind a plastic panel in the left-rear of the cargo area along with the rear-windshield-washer fluid reservoir if so-equipped.

The LS was available with privacy glass, velour upholstery, and split-folding rear seats.

A rear wheel drive, manual transmission model with a 21.9 U.S. gallon (83L) tank was rated at 18 mpg (13.1 L/ 100 km) in city driving, 22 mpg (10.7 L/ 100 km) on the highway. A four wheel drive model with the V6 and automatic transmission was rated at 15 mpg (15.7 L/ 100 km) city and 18 mpg (13.1 L/ 100 km) highway.

A secret locking compartment was fitted in the depths of the center console below a removable cassette storage bin. The vehicle was 176.4" long and weighed 3,490 to 3,820 lb (1,580 to 1,730kg), depending on engine and options.

Base prices (US)

  • S — $12,818
  • XS — $16,600
  • LS — $17,899 for automatic, $16,799 for manual

Isuzu sold 24,612 Rodeos in 1991 and 45,257 Rodeos in 1992.


For 1993, Isuzu replaced the General Motors V6 engine with their own 24-valve OHC V6 which was rated at 175hp (130kW). Manually-locking hubs were eliminated, but the floor-mounted transfer case shifter remained. The 1993 Rodeo featured a recalibrated suspension system, softened spring rates and softened shock valving.

The Rodeo now weighed between 3,536 and 4,120 lb (1,604 to 1,869kg). Base price was raised to $14,074, and the EPA rating was 18 mpg (13.1 L/ 100 km) city and 21 mpg (11.2 L/ 100 km) highway.

In 1993, an Isuzu 3.2 L V6 engine became available, as well as a Family II 4-cylinder from Holden. And in 1996 Isuzu bumped the horsepower of their 3.2L V6 up to around 195hp (145kW) and 193ft·lbf (262N·m) of torque for the 1996 and 1997 Rodeos.

Second generation

The Rodeo was redesigned for the 1998 model year.

In 2004, Isuzu dropped the 4-cylinder engine and added the optional 3.5L V6 Gasoline Direct Injection engine with 250hp (186kW) and 246ft·lbf (334N·m) of torque. Isuzu was the first to offer Gasoline Direct Injection in a vehicle priced under $100,000.

In an interesting note, a song performed in 1997 by Collin Raye, "Little Red Rodeo", was about a man trying to find a former girlfriend that drove an Isuzu Rodeo.

The Isuzu Amigo,Vauxhall Frontera Sport, a slightly shorter, two-door version of the MU Wizard (Amigo) which was also available with a removable soft-top, was renamed Rodeo Sport before it was dropped from the product line.


Introduced in the Spring of 1989 into the United States, this compact sport-utility really turned it’s focus on the sport rather than the utility end. The Amigo, as it was known in the US, came with both 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive models. A very small 96hp (72kW), 2.3 litre engine came standard with the 2wd and the 4 wheel drive came with the 2.6 litre 4 cylinder motor. Both models came in only 5 speed manual transmissions except for the 1993 model. There were very limited options for the early Amigo including air conditioning, two seats or four and two trim models to choose from S or XS. Some of the changes throughout the years included, 1991- small cosmetic alterations to the 1990 model, 1992 4 speed automatic transmission was finally added; also the 2.3 liter motor was retired, all models came with the 2.6 standard, 1993 had no major changes, 1994, high mount rear stop light was added, power steering was standard, power mirrors. Along with a limited number of XS-F editions ( "F" standing for "Frontera" ) this version had a few more toys such as power windows and locks 4 wheel ABS system although inactive in 4wd low range and only active on the rear wheels in 4wd-hi range. This version if the Amigo had only 49-state emissions (reasons unknown) There are no official sales numbers but most dealers agree there were less than 75 sold. The only badging that shows this model is a sport blue XS symbol with a sport-font "F" beside it (also sport blue)


Outside- After making its US debut in 1991 and being dropped in 1994, the Amigo made a comeback in 1998 with a newly redefined model. The new Amigo shared the same body styling and sheet metal as the Rodeo, but with shorter wheel base and stiffer frame. Both models were built in the assembly plant in Lafayette, Indiana with the more modernized look. Amigo came standard with a soft top, similar to the Jeep Wrangler. Exterior differences in the Amigo and Rodeo other than the wheelbase includes a rear mounted spare tire, 16 inch tyres, larger fender flares and the two door vs. Rodeo’s four door.

Inside- The Amigo shares the same interior as the Honda Passport. Standard features on the Amigo included split folding rear seats, tilt steering, dual power ports, power windows, mirrors and door locks, keyless entry and AM/ FM CD players. The newer Amigo seats 5 however 4 people can ride comfortably.

On the Road – Amigos with the 2.2 litre, 130hp (97kW) are few and far between, mainly because previous owners complained to Isuzu that a v6 needed to be standard. Although a small SUV, it still packed a 4,250 pound weight, needing a lot of horsepower for everyday driving. Isuzu’s answer to this was the 3.2 litre, 205hp (153kW) v6 that carried 214-foot (65m) pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm which is the same motor that the Rodeo carried. On the charts, the Amigo gives good torque to towing a 4,500 pound boat. Fuel consumption on the Road is an estimated 22 MPG Highway.

From a technical prospective, the Amigo is built with a rigid frame that has 8 crossmembers. Front suspension has independent lower and upper arms, with a solid rear axle. Riding in the Amigo can feel much like a full size truck, feeling a lot of bumps in the road. All units came with Airbags and side impact door beams, as well as ABS.

Off the Road- the Amigo came standard with Isuzu’s 10 bolt rear axle, which in conjunction with its push button 4 wheel drive button, makes it a good SUV for slippery surfaces. Amigo also has a traditional floor mounted lever for switching from 4wd high to 4wd low. Taking the Amigo off road is acceptable, providing good four wheeling capability in small trails. For serious off road capability, Isuzu offered the Ironman Edition Amigo which came standard with a DANA 44 rear end, Intelligent Suspension control (ISC), limited-slip differential, larger tires than the LS model, and adjustable shocks for off road. These are the rarest of Amigos, Isuzu only producing about 288 in 2000, 187 in 2001. (Isuzu did produce Ironman Rodeos and Axioms during those years as well)

The Amigo was renamed in 2002 to the Rodeo Sport, to compliment its longer Brother the Rodeo. The Amigo series was produced until 2003. The Rodeo was dropped from Isuzu in 2004.

The MU Wizard was known in the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall Frontera and in Europe as the Opel Frontera. It was originally built at the former Bedford Vehicles factory in Luton; it would become known as the IBC factory (Isuzu Bedford Company). In the 1980s the plant had come under joint control between Isuzu and General Motors, with the Frontera being built alongside a number of other commercial vehicle models. The Australian and New Zealand version of the MU Wizard model range was known as the Holden Frontera.

After General Motors took full control over the IBC Vehicles factory in 1998, the Frontera production line was planned to be transferred to General Motors' Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, home of the Vauxhall Astra However with the closure of the Luton plant the decision to move was reversed.

The Frontera was discontinued from production in 2004. If current rumours are correct, the replacement model in the Vauxhall range will be based on the hardware of the GM Daewoo/ Chevrolet Captiva rather than an Isuzu model. In Australia and New Zealand, the Holden Frontera was replaced by a Holden badged version of the GM Daewoo/ Chevrolet Captiva model range.

Within the UK, Europe and Australia the Frontera had a different engine line up.

The early cars (to 1995) had a choice of engines, with the LWB available with either a 2.4 petrol (C24NE) engine (developed in the Opel Manta 400) or the 2.3 diesel engine originally fitted in the Bedford CF van & Vauxhall Carlton. The Frontera sport (Isuzu Amigo) was available with the 2.0 petrol Vauxhall Cavalier engine (C20NE).

In 1995 the model went through a facelift and the Frontera received rear coil springs and a new line up of engines. The SWB gained a new 2.0 petrol (X20 series) engine, updated trim, and also the first diesel engine available for the SWB, the 2.8 (4JB-TC). The LWB also had new engines, with the 2.2 petrol (X22XE) and the 2.8 diesel 4JB-TC being made available.

In the 1996-1997 models interior trim, including the dashboard, was changed, and a new 2.5 diesel (VM41) engine was fitted. This engine was also used in the Range Rover and Jeep Cherokee in the UK.

In 1998 the new model B series was introduced with a choice of 2.2 petrol, 2.2 diesel (X22DTH) and 3.2 litre V6 petrol engines. Further modifications where carried out on the diesel engine post-2001, with the final version to be fitted in the marque being the 2.2 litre (Y22) version. This model met the Euro 4 Emissions standard.

The final models where produced in 2004 in Olympus trim and production ended at IBC Luton in 2004.

Jiangling Landwind

The Rodeo is still produced as the Jiangling (Jiangling Motors Corporation Limited) Landwind in China. It is the first SUV to fail Euroncap crash tests. The Landwind is based on the first generation Rodeo. Jiangling-Landwind-Crash-Test/ id/ 3181718577#

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