2006 Isuzu I-350 Crew Cab 4WD LS
Isuzu teamed up with GM on the I-series midsized pickups (otherwise known as the Colorado, Chevy's replacement for the S-10). Its middle-of-the-road styling left us non-committal: We didn't love it or hate it. The grille and headlight assembly is the most attractively aggressive part of the vehicle, but this feature and the rest of the vehicle resemble the Colorado too much to stand out as a unique Isuzu product. The stance was good for a smaller 4x4, although not exciting.
There is a Limited package for the I-350 that features leather seats, a head unit with a six-disc CD changer, heated and powered seats, a sliding rear window, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with lights, compass, and a temperature gauge. While our LS didn't have to have all that for our test, its lack of amenities served to underscore its unexpectedly entry-level ambience, especially when we considered this I-350's mid-level trim and its cost. The cloth seats felt stiff and lacked support. The seats in the back offered just enough leg room, but the headrests blocked the view through the rear glass.
The five-cylinder delivers 225 hp and the best EPA fuel economy estimate of the bunch. That said, the motor does not make enough power for daily driving chores without having your foot firmly planted on the accelerator, which potentially mitigates the gas-sipping economy of the inline-five. Passing on the highway requires that the transmission shifts hard and the engine revs high. We feel that this pickup would benefit from a larger engine in order to increase its utility as a toy-puller and cargo hauler. Luckily, Isuzu hinted that a larger powerplant may come in the next year.
Due to its small nature, driving the I-350 proved easy. It didn't require a lot of input. Parking was a breeze. The I-350's stiff suspension bounced on bumpy roads (such as well-worn freeways) like an unbalanced washer on spin cycle, but surprised us off-road with its firm ride and maneuverability. Its narrow track made navigating trails a cinch, and that motivated more than a few of us to careen happily across the sand. A dune buggy on the freeway, bouncy and unsure of itself, the I-350 is also a dune buggy in the dirt, able to go where the big boys dare and is unstoppable despite the lack of power from the I-5