MONTEREY, Calif. - A new semiactive suspension system has been added to the Rodeo and Amigo sport-utilities as part of American Isuzu Motors' changes for the 2000 model year.
Previously, only luxury cars and the Lexus LX 470 sport-utility have been equipped with semiactive suspensions. Isuzu claims its Intelligent Suspension Control is the first use of such technology in a mass-market sport-utility.
'It increases comfort, reduces the oscillations in body roll and the bounce-back in braking dive,' said Steve Kerho, American Isuzu's executive manager of product planning.
The system has seven sensors that monitor loads on the suspension every 40 milliseconds. Each shock absorber is then instantly adjusted by electronic step motors to one of eight compression damping or seven rebound damping rates. A shaft running through each shock channels the flow of shock oil to make the damping change.
The system adjusts only the suspension damping, not the actual suspension geometry as a fully active suspension would.
The system is standard on Amigos and Rodeos with Ironman packages, as well as on the Rodeo's top trim level. It is optional on the Rodeo's mid-grade level. On the Amigo, it also can be biased toward a comfort or sport setting.
The Trooper did not get the new suspension because the Trooper is too late in its model cycle for the feature to be cost-efficient. But the next-generation Trooper is likely to get the package, Kerho said.
The Intelligent Suspension Control system was developed with KYB, which also does the mono-shock system on the Isuzu VehiCross. The system's durability is expected to be 100,000 miles, an Isuzu official said.
In addition to new front and rear fascias for all its sport-utilities, other changes to the Isuzu line for 2000 include:
Trooper: The engine control module has been upgraded from an 8-bit to a 32-bit processing module. Throttle control is now drive-by-wire. The automatic transmission software allows for a gradual lock-up during shifts. A two-wheel-drive version is now available, cutting the entry price by $2,000. Automatic climate control and heated seats are now standard.
Rodeo: The Rodeo has the same powertrain enhancements as the Trooper. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, and all models can have a spare tire mounted underneath. A new seat design is offered, and cruise control is standard on the V-6. An 'Ironman' option package, previously offered only on the VehiCross, has been added to the Rodeo line.
Amigo: The Amigo has the same list of changes as the Rodeo, and the Amigo also has a new instrument panel with black-on-white gauges.
Hombre: The V-6 engine is more powerful, with the two-wheel-drive version now generating 180 hp, up from 175, and 250 pounds-feet of torque, up from 240.
VehiCross: A black-and-gray interior color scheme is available. Alloy 18-inch wheels are standard, as is automatic climate control. Also, Isuzu is 'strongly considering' production of the VX-02 concept vehicle, which gives the VehiCross a removable hard top.