After selling rebadged General Motors trucks as its own, Isuzu has finally gone to the big garage in the sky, no longer selling cars or trucks in the North American market. The Isuzu i-Series pickup truck was one of its last models, a reskinned version of the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins. There were some variations between the models in trims and options, but all came as extended-cab or crew-cab pickups and shared the same mechanical hardware.
Unfortunately, the GM trucks were never the best choices for badge engineering. Though decently engineered and value-priced, the Isuzu i-Series was outclassed by more refined choices in the compact/midsize pickup segment such as the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.
Most Recent Isuzu i-Series
The Isuzu i-Series debuted for the 2006 model year. The '06 i-Series came in three trims: an i-350 LS crew cab, an i-280 S extended cab and an i-280 LS extended cab. The two engines offered for that first year were a 175-horsepower 2.8-liter four-cylinder (in the i-280) and a 220-hp 3.5-liter five-cylinder (in the i-350).
For its final two years, the Isuzu i-Series was available as the i-290 or the i-370. The engine in the i-290 was a 185-hp 2.9-liter four-cylinder. A five-speed manual transmission came standard, while a four-speed automatic was available as an option. The i-370 trims came with a 242-hp 3.7-liter five-cylinder, and a four-speed automatic transmission was standard. The i-290 was available as an extended-cab or crew-cab pickup truck, while the i-370 came as a crew cab only. The extended-cab body style offered a 6-foot cargo bed and small reverse-opening rear doors. There were miniscule rear seats in the extended cab, but if you think of them more as storage space, you won't be disappointed.
The larger crew-cab model had a reduced 5-foot cargo bed, but more rear-seat room and four doors. The rear bench seat was big enough for three adults and folded down in a 60/40 split. Extended-cab models come with rear-wheel drive only. For the i-370 crew cab, four-wheel drive was optional.
Isuzu vehicles were not traditionally known for luxury, and the i-Series does nothing to change that impression. Interior design, materials and build quality were hit and miss (and mostly miss). There were two trim levels for the i-290 (S and LS) and just the LS trim for the i-370. The base i-290 S trim was a bare-bones number. It had air-conditioning, cruise control and little else. The LS trims added bucket seats, full power accessories and a six-speaker stereo, but you had to order the Limited package available on LS models to get a six-CD changer and a locking rear differential.
In road tests, we found the Isuzu i-Series to have a reasonably refined ride and some unexpected agility. However, the performance was modest compared to brawnier rivals. Its selection of inline engines didn't offer much grunt or towing ability. In that regard, used i-Series pickups fall short of more evolved compact and midsize trucks.