Pros: Takes a licking but...
Cons: Gas mileage
I bought my Rodeo in August of 1992 (on the test drive I turned it over to 10,000 miles) for $16,000. It now (February 2002) has about 170,000 miles on it.
Overall my Rodeo has performed very well. However, I have had several problems that all you other Rodeo owners (especially ?91, ?92, and maybe ?93) may be interested in.
I have really put it through some abuse too. For some interesting pictures of it go the following link:
Got new shocks at NTB at about 85,000 miles - I highly recommend this - sooner if you want - the ride improved dramatically! They replaced them again for free parts and labor at about 150,000 miles.
Torque Converter replaced at about 45,000 miles - luckily this was covered under warranty because I think the cost was about $1,200.
A transmission seal was replaced at about 75,000 miles - this was expensive because they have to drop the whole transmission - about $600.
The transmission is expensive to service in this vehicle because they have to drop a cross member to get to the filter. Its about 400 bucks to service this puppy.
BIG BAD NEWS - make sure you check the oil in your rear differential like the owner's manual says. I learned the hard way! At about 103,000 miles I got two new tires and had them put on the rear. I started to hear some awful metal on metal grinding noise. It turned out that most of the oil had leaked out of the differential and axle, and it tore up the whole rear end. I had to get all new pieces, and it cost me about $1,600. This can easily be avoided. Look in your service manual or contact your mechanic if you have questions!!
FIRE!! - Shortly after getting my rear-end rebuilt my Rodeo caught on fire (about 102,000 miles). I was driving on the Baltimore Beltway with my 3 year old daughter in the car, when a passerby pointed down at my right front tire. I was almost to my destination, but since I had the kid in the car I felt I should stop and look at my tire. At first I didn't notice any thing wrong, then when I looked again I saw through the wheel well a flame in the engine compartment. I was able to get the fire out with very little damage to the truck. The dealer replaced the transmission and the engine wiring harnesses, the transmission master switch, some hoses, and the spark plug wires.
The thing that bothered me was that the fire department, the mechanic, and the insurance company were not able to determine what had started the fire. I did a little research and found out there had been a recall on the transmission dipstick. The gauge was inaccurate which could cause you to over fill the fluid level. This increased pressure in the transmission could cause fluid to overflow through the dipstick tube, and potentially cause a fire when the fluid hit the hot exhaust manifold.
However, the dipstick had been replaced before I even owned the vehicle, and the transmission had not been serviced for about 25,000 miles, so it was unlikely that there was too much fluid. A mechanic said it may be that one of the transmission pumps needs to be replaced. To avoid any more potential fires, I bent the dipstick tube about a ? inch away from the exhaust manifold. Now when it overflows it just runs down the tube to the transmission rather than coming to rest on the exhaust manifold.
This happened again in January 2002 with 168,000 miles. I assume it is the same reason as described above. My recommendation is to degrease the engine every couple of years. My insurance company wanted to total it, but I took the money they offered me ($3,400), bought it back ($800), and am having it fixed again.
The car was running real hot one afternoon (78,000 miles). Turned out there was some blockage in the radiator. Cost about $200 to fix.
The radiator gets low enough for the car to overhear every 8,000 miles. Don't know why. I just keep premixed coolant at the ready, and refill it occasionally.
The left exhaust manifold cracked at about the same time the hub cap came off but I just got it fixed at about 108,000 miles. There are 6 or 8 bolts that hold the manifold on, on each side of the engine. 2 bolts on each side (the front 2 on the driver side, the back 2 on the passenger side) had lost their heads. Wasn't really a problem on the passenger side, but on the driver side the power steering pump (I think that's what it is) is stabilized by one of the manifold bolts. When this bolt broke, the manifold itself was taking the load, and eventually it caused it to crack.
Replaced the alternator at 133,000 miles. This cost about $210. Isuzu wanted $400 bucks to do it because they use "genuine Isuzu parts". This seems kinda' funny since its a GM alternator.
The steering got real loose after an alignment at about 108,000 miles. It had probably been loose before but I just didn't notice it until the wheels were tracking straight. I took it to the dealer to have the steering gear box adjusted (about $35.00). They did that, but also told me I need a "Steering Repair Kit" (dealer estimate about $230.00).
This problem either went away, or I got used to it.
I replaced the starter at about 165,000 miles.
The power windows in the back have had intermittent problems. I had both fixed at one time or another, but I gave up - the back right window works all the time, but the back left window works intermittently - very intermittently. When they fixed it originally the dealer said something about replacing some arm or lever. It was not the motor that was going.
At about 100,000 miles the cap that protects the front hub and bearings came off on the right side. I don't know whether it loosened up on its own or it was stolen (there's 5 or 6 bolts that hold this on). This is an expensive little part, about $300, and it may be necessary to replace the bearings.
At 133,000 miles I realized the 4-Wheel drive was not working. The auto locking hub on the right hand side does not stay locked anymore. To fix it with the original Isuzu part is $300 per sided plus labor, with the Isuzu manual locking hub $180 per side plus labor. I replaced them with Superwinch manual locking hubs from Calmini, $120 for the pair and about $100 for my mechanmic to install.