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Isuzu i-280, i-350 - 2006 Pickup Truck Buyers Guide

2006 Isuzu i-280 & 2006 Isuzu i-350 New Vehicle Test Drives
Martha Hindes

Isuzu i-280 & i-350
2006 Isuzu i-280 &  i-350

You could say it's all relative. Or what goes around comes around. Here was a midsize pickup truck from Isuzu Motor America, that became a jointly-developed foundation of General Motors' Chevy and GMC small pickup versions a couple of years ago. (GM has a partnership with Isuzu, for the uninitiated.) Now Isuzu, after a long American pickup drought, has returned to the corral with a small truck version based on (you guessed it) its recent Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon distant cousins.

With that said and, we hope, any confusion out of the way, the Isuzu i-280 and i-350 are on the scene to fill the need for a pair of small, fuel efficient pickup trucks with one of the world's most attention-getting guarantees. Isuzu caps off '06 upgrades with a 75,000-mile limited powertrain warranty including 24-hour road-side assistance with lock out protection, plus three-year 50,000 basic and six-year, 100,000 corrosion perforation coverage.

Isuzu's "i" (for inline as well as Isuzu) trucks are "tow worthy" and come with two engine options, the rear-drive i-280 extend cab "workhorse" with a 2.8-liter, 175-HP four, with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic (about 20/27 MPG, manual, 2WD). The i-350 Crew Cab 4X4 is powered by GM's five-cylinder 3500 Vortec for 220-HP V-6 grunt that's closer to four-banger efficiency (about 17/22 MPG automatic, 4WD). Larger engines, however, are on the horizon for both for the upcoming 2007 model year.

Those are the basic numbers for 30 different "i" pickup variations. Among changes for '06 are an optional rollover sensing system for Preferred Equipment (PEP) and LS packages standard on the Luxury model. XM Satellite radio is available for LS and Luxury. Luxury also gets an auto dimming rear view mirror. Items deleted for the model year are two-wheel drive traction control and standard On-Star (now an option) on Luxury, while PEP loses heated exterior mirrors.

Despite a distinctly Isuzu appearance, with double cross-bar face, there's obvious similarity in it and award-winning GM versions. (Vehicle parts are interchangeable for those who keep tabs.) Base prices start at $16,989 for the i-280 manual trans version, and $27,358 for the i-350, before adding options. But 24-hour tire changing security is included with both for the happy camper who chances upon an errant spike in the road.