1997 Isuzu Hombre Review
Good value in a basic hauler.
The Hombre is offered in two body styles and two trim levels: The regular cab in S and XS trim, and the extended Spacecab in XS trim only.
There are two engine choices: Standard is a 2.2- liter ohv four-cylinder, rated at 118 horsepower and 130 lb.-ft. of torque, which only comes with a five-speed manual transmission. The optional 4.3-liter ohv V6 rated at 175 bhp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque is available only on the Spacecab and only with a four-speed automatic transmission.
For this report we examined a Spacecab XS with the V6 automatic.
Standard equipment included four-wheel anti-lock brakes, driver's side airbag, power steering, AM/FM stereo with clock, and dual auxiliary power outlets. With the Spacecab model and XS trim level the standard equipment list is bolstered with a 60/40 split folding front bench seat, folding center armrest and cut-pile carpeting.
In addition to the three-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, the Hombre is covered with a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance program.
Available options are grouped into packages that cost less than those options priced individually. The Preferred Equipment Package includes air conditioning, an audio system upgrade with compact disc player and premium speakers, sliding rear window, tachometer and floor mats; individually, all these items would cost $1,496 but in the package they come to $1,151. The Power Package consists of power windows, door locks and outside mirrors; individually these items are $630, but the package cost is $530. And the Convenience Package includes tilt steering wheel and cruise control; individually the cost would be $525, but the package cost is $425. The total savings of these three packages together, for example, would be $545, a substantial amount.
The Hombre's mechanical layout is straightforward: In the front, an independent suspension of upper and lower control arms, and in the rear a live axle on leaf springs. There's an optional Performance Package, which is included at no charge on the XS V6 Spacecab. It consists of heavier-duty springs for increased trailer towing capacity and, if the vehicle is equipped with the four-cylinder engine, a change in the rear axle ratio from 3.73:1 to 4.10:1, which helps with pulling heavy loads. With it, the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) goes up to 4,600 pounds, from 4,200 with the base four-cylinder and 4,400 with the V6. Trailer towing capacity is 2,000 pounds with the four-cylinder engine and 5,000 pounds with the V6.
We think the Hombre offers attractive pricing. The base price comes to only $11,484. The Spacecab XS we drove retails for $17,068. It came with the V6 automatic, but not much else--it didn't even have air conditioning. Even a fully loaded Hombre should be under $20,000, however.
A word here about the V6 engine: Those familiar with the GM compact trucks will note they are offered with a couple of versions of this same 4.3-liter V6, but they're rated at 180 hp and 190 hp. The Hombre's engine is rated slightly lower than those in the Chevy and GMC models, but it still pulls strongly and with enough torque for the kind of work a truck is likely to experience.
The interior appointments in the Hombre are about mid-level. The cloth upholstery is decent, the sunvisors extend for extra protection against glare and there are two additional 12-volt power outlets to run a cellular phone, radar detector or other accessories.
Legroom and headroom for the driver and right-side passenger are adequate, except the passenger's footwell has an unfortunate hump we've come to know and hate in other GM-engineered products that accommodates the catalytic converter.
The design of the Spacecab's split folding front bench seat may discourage people from sitting in the middle. The cushion, in the center, is shorter to make space for a dual cupholder that's built into the forward edge of the seat. When the small, center backrest is folded forward it acts as a center armrest, so the cupholders make sense. But if someone is forced to ride in the center, that person won't have either a full backrest or a full cushion, and his or her knees will be over the cupholder.
Behind the front seats of the Spacecab there's a fairly flat floor, so stowing toolboxes or luggage should be easy. In the rear wall of the cab there's a handy compartment that houses the jack and tools.
We have one gripe about the rear of the Hombre's cabin: the side-facing, fold-down rear seats are uncomfortable and awkward for adults and children. This same gripe applies to many extended-cab trucks, including Chevy and GMC compact pickups, Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups. We prefer a simple, forward-facing rear bench seat, even if it is small, because it makes a much better spot for briefcases and other items.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 1997 Isuzu Hombre, click here: 1997 Isuzu Hombre.