Amigo is Spanish for “friend” and that’s exactly what Isuzu provided its customers with the Isuzu Amigo—a reliable companion. The Amigo was a three-door, mid-size SUV that had different variations all over the world. In the United States, the five-door version of this ride was marketed as the Isuzu Rodeo. In Asia, it was also sold under different names. In Japan, the five-door, long-wheelbase SUV was called the Isuzu Wizard. In Thailand, it was sold as the Isuzu Cameo and Vega. It was also rebadged by different makes as the Honda Passport, Opel Frontera, Vauxhall Frontera, Holden Frontera, Chevrolet Frontera, and Chevrolet Rodeo. Here’s a quick look at the Isuzu Amigo and its transformations through the years.
First generation (1989-1998)
The three-door Amigo reached American shores in the spring of 1989, and it was only made available with a manual transmission. The standard RWD was powered by a 2.3 L 4ZD1 inline-four engine that can churn out up to 102 hp while the 4WD variant came with a 2.6 L 4ZE1 engine that could churn out up to 120 hp. Initially, the Amigo was offered in two trims—S and XS. But after only a year, the model underwent several changes in its interior and exterior components. In 1992, the 2.6 L engine became standard for the vehicle and the RWD variant was also made available with an automatic transmission. Two years after, power steering and power mirrors were also made standard, and it was also furnished with a high-mount rear stop light. However, Isuzu dropped the Amigo that same year and released a limited number of XS-F versions in the market. The “F” stands for Frontera, and this model was packed with additional features such as four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Unfortunately, this particular version was only available in 49-state emissions, so it didn’t do that well in terms of sales.
Second generation (1998-2004)
Making its comeback in the American market in 1998, the Amigo was assembled in Lafayette City, Indiana. It was made available with a standard soft top, dual 12-volt power ports, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, keyless entry, split-folding rear seats, AM/FM radio with CD player, and tilt steering. It was sold alongside a newly designed Isuzu Rodeo but both vehicles almost looked identical. Despite of that, they still had different wheelbases, fender flares, and wheel sizes. The Amigo was also built with a front suspension that was comprised of independent lower and upper arms, a rigid frame that had eight crossmembers, a standard ten-bolt rear axle, and a push-button four-wheel drive. In 2001, the Isuzu Amigo was renamed to Rodeo Sport to ride the success of the more popular Rodeo model. Production of the model lasted until 2003 while its twin Rodeo ended its run the year after.