Test: 2006 Isuzu i350
By: Mike Magda,
© 2006 PickupTruck.com
Isuzu is on the last drops of a life support tube from General Motors.
The only two new vehicles available at the country’s 300 Isuzu dealerships
are the Ascender, which is a rebadged Chevy Trailblazer, and the i-280/1-350
pickups, which most people think are knockoffs of the Chevy Colorado.
the Isuzu came before the Colorado. For the first two months of 2006,
Isuzu sold fewer than 800 vehicles, and that includes a few leftover Axioms
and Rodeos. Pickups made up 283 of those sales, but the Isuzu trucks are
not the lowest selling pickup of the year. Believe it or not, somewhere
in the back row of a dealership lot four customers found that perfect
2003 Chevy S-10 they’ve desperately been seeking the past three
years. But what’s harder to believe is that Subaru is selling more
pickups than the Isuzu right now.
note to this pending eulogy is that the Isuzu pickups have a couple of
noticeable advantages over the Colorado and should draw more attention.
And truck customers should know that Isuzu was the lead engineer in the
partnership with GM that developed the new GMT 355 platform, which serves
the Colorado and GMC Canyon. Isuzu was responsible for packaging, interior
design, establishing the quality and cost targets, tech specs and structure
of the new truck. Isuzu and GM shared responsibility for styling and common
component design. In 2001, the teams started individual programs and developed
separate powertrain strategies.
a big jump on Chevy and GMC, releasing its Thailand-built version foreign
called the D-Max in Thailand in May of 2002. GM’s siblings weren’t
introduced until August 2003. The D-Max sold more than 100,000 units in
Thailand its first year and now commands 40 percent of the Thai pickup
market. What a difference a few thousand miles makes. Of course, the D-Max
is available with five engine choices in Thailand, including three turbo
In the US,
there are only two choices for the Isuzu pickup. The i-280, which is an
entry-level 4-cylinder, 2-wheel-drive extended cab, and the i-350, a mid-level
4WD crew cab powered by the inline-5 engine. Very few options are offered
for either model, which are built along side the Chevy/GMC trucks in GM’s
Shreveport, Louisiana, assembly plant.
LS is basically a 4WD Chevy Colorado with the LT2 trim level and a few
options. Overall it’s a well-balanced package with locking differential,
side-curtain airbags, ABS, CD player, air conditioning, leather-wrapped
steering wheel, bucket seats, automatic transmission, power mirrors/locks/windows
and a fullsize spare as standard equipment. The optional Limited package
costs just over $1,800 and features leather seating, 6-disc CD changer,
power/heated front seats and sliding rear window.
truck was the i-355 LS with a MSRP of $27,358. The only option was a bedliner
at $278. Total sticker with destination: $28,297.
noticeable difference between the i-350 and the Colorado is the different
looking grille. The Colorado we tested had a diamond-mesh texture split
by the familiar bar and Bow Tie logo. The i-350 has an egg-crate foundation
accented by bold chrome bars. The double-deck headlights common to both
trucks force an unfortunate handicap on the Isuzu. The grille crossbar
and the headlamp dividers are offset. On the Colorado, the cross bar stretches
smoothly between headlamps.
has a grille surround that includes the dividers between the headlamps,
but the grille crossbar doesn’t match up. Take a few seconds to
look up the Isuzu D-Max on the Internet and you’ll find a wider
grille and taller headlights for a cleaner, integrated if not luxurious
look that is much sharper than the Colorado or even GMC Canyon. Are you
starting to get the picture why the foreign Isuzu pickup is doing better
than the American version? Three diesels, nice looking front end.