Based on GM's compact pickups, the i-290 is the smaller of Isuzu's two i-series trucks, competing with the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, among others. Not much has changed for 2008 besides an increase in towing capacity and the discontinuation of the LS option package.
The i-290 holds a 2.9-liter four-cylinder, while the i-370 (listed separately in the Cars.com Research section) gets a 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder. They join Isuzu's only remaining model in the U.S. market: the Ascender sport utility vehicle, which is also based on a GM product.
With its 185-horsepower four-cylinder and other appropriate equipment, the i-290 has a payload rating greater than 1,500 pounds. It received a 100-pound boost in towing capacity for the new model year, rising to 2,200 pounds for manual-transmission models and 3,200 for automatics.
The pickups were developed in a joint venture, so the overall appearance of the i-290 is similar to GM's Colorado and Canyon. Isuzu's version features a bold grille made of three wide bars: one horizontal and two vertical. Viewed as the workhorse of the i-series duo, the i-290 comes only in extended-cab form with two-wheel drive. Equipped with a heavy-duty suspension, the i-290 has 15-inch tires on aluminum wheels. Automatic on-off headlights are standard. The Luxury Package adds fog lamps and a sliding rear window. The LS option package has been discontinued. Radiant Orange Metallic, Midnight Metallic and Cool Slate Metallic are new colors for 2008.
A 60/40-split front bench seat goes in the i-290. Ebony interior trim is standard for Luxury and Limited trims, as well as chrome accents.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a four-speaker stereo and vinyl floor covering. The S Plus Preferred Equipment Package adds fabric seat upholstery, carpeting and a stereo system with a CD/MP3 player. Remote keyless entry; cruise control; a tilt steering column; and power windows, locks and mirrors are available, as are an in-dash six-CD changer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Under the Hood
The i-290's 2.9-liter four-cylinder operates with electronic throttle control and develops 185 hp and 190 pounds-feet of torque. Either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission can be installed. The i-290 comes only with rear-wheel drive.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain airbags and traction control are part of the Luxury Package. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard for all models.
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