The Holden Rodeo is a compact utility vehicle or pick-up truck released in Australia and New Zealand in 1980. It is available in 2-door single-cab, 2-door extended cab, and 4-door crew-cab body styles and front-engine rear-wheel or four-wheel drive layouts.
While the Holden Rodeo ute was introduced only in 1980, it was not a totally new vehicle in the Australasian market. It was preceded by its younger generation, the Chevrolet LUV and, later, the Isuzu KB. Here’s its history in brief:
1972-1977 – the Chevrolet LUV (light utility vehicle) was first introduced in Australia. It was a rebadged first-generation Isuzu Faster, which was imported by Holden from Japan.
1977-1980 – the Chevrolet LUV was upgraded, and Holden rebranded it as Isuzu KB. In other parts of the world, it carried the nameplates: Isuzu LUV, Isuzu KB, Bedford KB, Faster Rodeo (4x4 version), and its former name—Chevrolet LUV.
1980-1988 – Holden Rodeo was released in Australasia. It was upgraded and rebadged Isuzu KB (aka the second-generation Isuzu Faster). The Isuzu KB was marketed worldwide under various nameplates: Bedford KB, Isuzu Pick-up, Isuzu Faster-Z, Faster Rodeo (for 4x4), and Holden Rodeo. The first-generation Holden Rodeo was correspondingly referred to as the KB series.
1988-2003 – the second-generation Holden Rodeo, aka the TF series—and aka the third-generation Isuzu Faster—was produced.
2003-2008 – the third-generation Holden Rodeo rolled off from the production plants, but this time, it was not based on the Isuzu Faster. Instead, it was now produced based on the first-generation Isuzu D-Max, which replaced the Isuzu Faster.
So strictly, the Holden Rodeo came to Australia and New Zealand in 1980, but its forebears had preceded it eight years earlier.
1st Generation: KB Series (1980-1988)
To fully understand the underpinnings of the KB series produced in 1980, we have to look at the earlier models on which it was based.
In 1972, the Japanese automaker Isuzu Motors released the Isuzu Faster with chassis codes KB20 and KB25 (regular and long wheelbase, respectively). In Australia, the Isuzu Faster with the short-wheelbase configuration (KB20) was sold as Chevrolet LUV. In 1977, it was marketed as Isuzu KB with three variants offered, namely:
- KB20 – short or regular wheelbase; 1.6L I4 petrol engine (50kW power, 110N⋅m torque); 4-speed manual
- KB25 – long wheelbase; 1.6L I4 petrol or 2.0L I4 diesel engine (45kW power, 113N⋅m torque); 4-speed manual
- KB40 – 4x4 short wheelbase; 1.6L I4 petrol or 2.0L diesel engine; 4-speed manual
In 1980, these models were upgraded as the second-generation Isuzu Faster. They were launched in Australia in 1981 and rebranded as the Holden Rodeo KB series. The first-generation Holden Rodeos were offered in both pick-up truck and chassis cab (half-truck) variants and in the rear- and four-wheel drive options. They were available in the same 1.6L petrol and 2.0L diesel engines that used to power their immediate predecessors. Both power options were paired with either a floor- or column-shifter 4-speed manual transmission. Appearance-wise, the Rodeos wore circular headlamps and horizontal-bar bumper grille, and they were fitted with 14-inch wheels.
1983: Facelifts and engine updates
The 1983 model year was introduced with rectangular headlamps, restyled mirrors, and a 12-port front grille. The powertrain was updated to the following specs:
- 1.8L petrol, 4-speed manual
- 2.2L diesel, 4-speed manual
- 2.0L petrol, 5-speed manual – available for the LS version (upmarket KB model)
1984: Engine update
- 2.0 L petrol engine – it replaced the 1.8L petrol engine, which was discontinued by this time.
1985: Facelifts and powertrain updates
Several changes were introduced to the Holden Rodeo this year, including the addition of a 2-door space cab in its lineup of models. The previous options of column shifter and 4-speed manual transmission were discontinued; thus, the floor-mounted 5-speed manual gearbox became the standard. A new engine was also introduced, which was:
- 2.3L petrol engine, 81 kW 184 N⋅m – it was offered as an option in 1985, but it became the standard petrol engine in 1986.
1987: Final facelift of the KB series
The 1987 model year of the Holden Rodeo received a restyled grille, which was more open and designed with four rectangular ports. Power steering was offered as an option.
2nd Generation: TF Series (1988-2003)
1988 marked the second-generation Holden Rodeo, codenamed TF series. It must be noted that this series was based on the third-generation Isuzu Faster. In Japan, the RWD versions retained the name Isuzu Faster, while the 4WD models were branded Isuzu Rodeo. In other parts of the globe, the TF series carried different badges as well, namely:
- Isuzu Pickup and Chevrolet LUV - North America
- Isuzu TF, Bedford Brava, and Vauxhall Brava – UK
- Isuzu Faster-Z, Isuzu TFR, Isuzu Dragon Eyes, and Honda Tourmaster – Thailand
- Chevrolet T-series – Egypt
- Isuzu Ippon – Israel
- Isuzu Fuego – Philippines
- Isuzu Invader – parts of Malaysia
In the launching year, the TF series was offered in Australia in 2-door single cab, 2-door space cab, and 4-door crew cab body styles with the following engines:
- 2.6L I4 petrol engine, 88 kW 195 N⋅m
- 2.8L turbodiesel engine, 74 kW 225 N⋅m
The series also came in three trim levels—the DX (or base trim), LX (mid-range RWD/top-range 4WD), and LT (top-range for RWD petrol crew cab only).
1997: Facelifts and new trim levels
While Japanese sales ended in 1994, the production of the Isuzu Faster TF series (for the export market) in China continued until 2002. In 1997, the TF series received some cosmetic updates, including a redesigned dashboard and a slightly curved-down nose.
1998: Trim and engine updates
An LT Sport trim level was introduced but was only available for the 4x4 crew cab. Front airbags were offered as options. The engine offerings were updated as follows:
- 3.2L V6 petrol engine, 140 kW 265 N⋅m – replaced the 2.6L engine and was available for both RWD and 4WD
During this time, the 3.2L engine was the most powerful pick-up truck engine in Australia and, thus, allowed the Holden Rodeo to acquire a good share of the market even as it pitted against the very popular Toyota Hilux.
2002: Engine updates and minor facelifts
Just before its replacement, the second-generation Holden Rodeo was updated. It now sported a non-rectangular grille and new indicator lenses. It was also fitted with a new engine with the following specs:
- 3.1L direct-injection turbodiesel engine, 96 kW
3rd Generation: RA Series (2003-2008)
2003: All-new Holden Rodeo
In 2003, an all-new Holden Rodeo was released. It was a rebranded first-generation Isuzu D-Max (RA series), which was jointly produced by General Motors and Isuzu Motors from 2002 through 2012 using the GMT 355 platform. It was re-badged under several marques for the different markets around the world, including the following:
- Chevrolet Luv D-Max
- Chevrolet D-Max
- Holden Rodeo – Australia (2003-2008)
Globally, the RA series was released in the following body styles:
- Single cab - available only as a 4x2
- Extended cab - 4x2 (called SpaceCabs and available in SL, SX, SLX trim levels ) and 4x4 (called Rodeos and available in S and LS trim levels)
- Double cab/crew cab - 4x2 (called Cab4 and available in SL, SX, SLX), and 4x4 (called Cab4 and available in S and LS)
In Australia, the Holden Rodeo was offered with the following engines:
- 2.4L 4-cylinder 4G69 I4 petrol engine, 92 kW 207 N⋅m
- 3.6L Alloytec V6 petrol engine, 157 kW 313 N⋅m
- 3.0L 4JJ1 I4 T/C diesel engine, 120 kW 333 N⋅m
For the base trim levels, 14-inch wheels came as standard, but higher trim levels came with 15-inch and 16-inch wheels.
2008: Holden lost the right to use the “Rodeo” name
2008 signaled the last of the Holden Rodeo as a car nameplate. Following the split-up between Isuzu and General Motors, Holden (a GM subsidiary) lost the right to use the “Rodeo” name and had to rebrand the Holden Rodeo as Holden Colorado, which was introduced in the same year. The RA series was upgraded to the RC series, which now had a new flag-carrier—the first-generation Holden Colorado.
Both models (the Rodeo RA series and the Colorado RC series) shared the same underpinnings and differed only in bodywork.
Summary of powertrains used by the Holden Rodeo
Year, Engine, Transmission
- 1978, 1.6L petrol (50 kW 110 N⋅m), 4-speed manual
- 1981, 2.0L diesel (40 kW 113 N⋅m), 4-speed manual
- 1982, 1.6L petrol (50 kW 110 N⋅m), 4-speed manual
- 1983, 2.2L diesel (45 kW 130 N⋅m), 4-speed manual
- 1983, 1.9L petrol (65 kW 141 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 1984, 2.3L petrol (81 kW 184 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 1986, 1.6L was discontinued
- 1988, 2.5L diesel (57 kW 162 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 1988, 2.6L petrol (88 kW 195 N⋅m), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
- 1988, 1.9L was discontinued
- 1990, 2.8L diesel (74 kW 225 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 1998, 2.2L petrol (87 kW 190 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 1998, 3.2L petrol (140 kW 265 N⋅m), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
- 2002, 3.0L diesel (120 kW 333 N⋅m) LT Sport (also 2.8L and 3.2L), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
- 2003, 2.4L petrol (92 kW 207 N⋅m), 5-speed manual
- 2003, 3.5L petrol (147 kW 280 N⋅m), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
- 2004, 2.8L was discontinued
- 2005, 3.5L was discontinued
- 2005, 3.6L petrol (157 kW 313 N⋅m), 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto