Say adios to the Amigo, amigos, because it looks very much as though this industrial strength but friendly little sport/utility is heading for its final siesta. The 1995 model is a carryover from 1994, and Isuzu has no immediate plans to replace it with a successor after this year’s offering.
The problem is that the Amigo has never really decided what it really wants to be. An accomplished off-road trail master? An economical boulevard roadster for the youth in all of us? A cross between a miniature truck and a sport coupe?
It hasn’t managed to be all of those things because of a few key weaknesses in the package, specifically: an awkward method of initiating the 4-wheel-drive system, high price relative to its main competitor - the Jeep Wrangler - a definite lack of engine power, and the fact that it’s not very useful as a sport/utility vehicle.
It has, however, established a reputation for tackling the toughest terrain with relative ease, and it makes a good second car for weekend jaunts in the outback.
The problem with this persona, though, is where it places the Amigo in the sport/utility competitive spectrum, which is, as we mentioned, squarely against the Jeep Wrangler.
Let’s elaborate on that just a little bit.
Although the basic engines of the Wrangler and the Amigo are about the same in terms of power ratings, the Wrangler offers the option of a much more powerful 6-cylinder. The Amigo’s base engine is also its only engine.
Also, the Wrangler, though far from roomy, is bigger than the Amigo and it’s also a little more capable when it comes to playing dirty.
That’s a pretty tough act to top.
If you aren’t looking for fun in your driving, you should forget about this category of vehicle entirely. These miniature sport/utilities are lightweight two-door jobs, most with removable soft tops of some sort, and most with the same overall size that helps slice through city traffic but hinders interior passenger room and valuable luggage space.