The Isuzu Amigo is basically a shortened Isuzu pickup buttoned down by a canvass roof. With the Isuzu advantage on trucks and pick-ups, this mini 4x4 feels huskier and more stable than its competitors.
Introduced in spring of 1989, Isuzu's Japanese-built compact sport-utility vehicle focused more on sport than on the utility end. The Amigo came with 2-wheel or on-demand 4-wheel drive and a choice of engines. A 96-horsepower 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine went into the 2-wheel-drive S model, but other Amigos got a 120-horsepower, 2.6-liter four. Both engines drove a 5-speed manual transmission. Choices extended further--to two or four seats, an open or enclosed cargo area, and either of two trim levels (S or XS). All versions had two side doors and a side-opening tailgate, which held a full-size spare tire.
For the next four years minor changes have been done to perk up interest and keep up attention to this fantastic compact SUV. But by 1994 the last of this production rolled out which would last into a little 4 year hiatus.
Finally in 1998 a fresh revitalized Isuzu Amigo emerged like the proverbial phoenix from its ashes. Available with either rear-drive or 4-wheel drive, Amigo shared its basic design with the larger Isuzu Rodeo 4-door sport utility wagon, but wore a shorter 2-door body. The semi-convertible body had a folding soft top over the back seat, as well as a pop-up sunroof. .
Two engines were available: a 4-cylinder and a V6. The 2.2-liter dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder produced 130 horsepower, versus 205 hp for the twin-cam 3.2-liter V6. Five-speed manual shift was standard, with a 4-speed automatic transmission optional for Amigos with the V6 engine. Like Rodeo's 4WD system, the Amigo's setup was not intended for use on dry pavement, but it included pushbutton shift-on-the-fly between 2WD and 4WD, along with separate low-range gearing. Four-wheel antilock braking was standard. After two years the Amigo name tag was now permanently dropped and renamed Isuzu Rodeo Sport.
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