The Rodeo S 4WD was the prime contender in our midsize SUV debate, undercutting an Explorer by more than $2000 and the Montero Sport by $1300.

The Rodeo S 4WD hasn't changed a whole lot since it was introduced, being refined and repowered over a decade, without losing any of its surprisingly good off-highway ability or near bulletproof reliability. Isuzu's 75* all-aluminum 3.2L V-6 powers all Rodeo 4WDs, dishing up 205 hp and more torque. When coupled to the five-speed stick, acceleration is reasonably brisk, yet it's flexible enough to spend all day puttering along in the mud.

The 4WD S costs about $23,700, about $2400 over the 2WD version. But aside from the additional front drive, which often adds that much to the price on its own, the 4WD Rodeo also gets larger 245/75R16 tires, a Dana 44 rear axle your street-rod friends will envy, four vented disc brakes (rear drums on 2WD), a limited-slip differential, cruise control, and a tilt wheel.

If that's not enough to qualify as a good value, include Isuzu's warranty (3/50,000 overall, 10/120,000 powertrain, roadside assist for 5/60,000), and the Rodeo S is an excellent, inexpensive alternative for getting into a midsize 4WD 'ute.