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2007 Suzuki SX4 Review

Surprise!

A three-quarter front view of a red 2007 Suzuki SX4

In short: A great-handling, good-looking five-door hatchback.

Every so often a new car will surprise you. Not surprise as in waking up to discover your husband has been replaced by Abe Vigoda, but more along the mildly pleasant lines of discovering Diet Coke is offered with lemon. The new Suzuki SX4 surprises in almost every way, from its all-wheel-drive system and precision five-speed gear box, to its roomy interior and top-notch build quality. As Americans begin to rediscover small cars, they will find they are no longer ratty penalty boxes more suited to housing stray animals than driving. The SX4 is a prime example of how far both small cars and Suzuki as a brand have come, and it deserves a thorough look.

Underneath its stylish, masculine exterior (at least compared to the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris) lies a platform shared with the critically acclaimed Suzuki Swift, sold in Europe and Japan. That translates into a car with ride and handling characteristics seemingly bred for those locales, and very different from the rest of Suzuki’s Born-from-Daewoos car line-up. The ride is on the firm side, but in a rich-feeling sort of way, as it went over bumps and hollows with a solid, single thawunk. Think sports sedan rather than economy hatchback.

2007 Suzuki SX4

On a long drive through the mountains surrounding Carlsbad, Calif., the steering was tight and direct, translating the driver’s commands through its chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel and standard all-wheel drive system that is unique to its class. It’s also unique in its execution, with three modes for different driving conditions. AWD Auto is like many crossover SUV systems that shunt power to the rear wheels only when the computer detects the front tires slipping. AWD Lock is for lower speeds through snow or mud, while FWD is for improved fuel economy. That’s the mode of choice, as one of the SX4’s few detractors is its relative inefficiency—23 city, 28 highway are both a full 10 mpg less than the Honda Fit. Not horrible, but for a 143-horsepower inline-4 engine (that’s nevertheless plenty peppy), it should be better.

That can’t be said inside, however, as Suzuki has driven the pitch out of the ballpark with good ergonomics and interior materials that look and feel premium. Rich plastics, real-looking aluminum trim and quality cloth set new standards in this class. Our tester was a Sport model, which included among other items, automatic climate control, trip computer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and an upgraded stereo with in-dash CD changer and MP3 ability (an iPod accessory is available). That’s a lot of useful equipment that justifies the SX4’s price premium over other small hatches—not to mention it's lengthy warranty.

Another mildly pleasant surprise was also found inside, with generous accommodations for driver, passengers and all their junk. Although not as versatile as the ingenious Fit, the rear seats fold or completely flip forward depending on how much space is needed. The back seat cushion is significantly raised off the floor for a theater seating effect that also increases leg room by raising the passengers knees off the floor (sort of like sitting in a chair). Up front, taller drivers can rejoice in the Vigoda-sized surprise that there is finally a small car that provides enough room and support for their lanky lower appendages. Tally this up with the beefed-up looks and all-wheel drive, and it certainly looks like Suzuki created the SX4 with gentlemen in mind (particularly the 20-something dude variety).

Expectations weren’t high for this little Suzuki, but the SX4 succeeds in almost every area, establishing a new benchmark for what we should expect from America’s fastest-growing car brand. It is tremendously versatile, especially for those who need all-wheel-drive traction, and is built to a quality that quite a few manufacturers would do well copying (like Suzuki’s bedfellow General Motors). Car surprises will never knock your Nikes off, but the SX4 is one that is at least more exciting than Diet Coke with lemon.

A three-quarter rear view of a red 2007 Suzuki SX4

Read a review of the 2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback

Warranty/Service: 100,000-mile/7-year transferable Powertrain limited warranty; 24/7/365 roadside assistance; warranty repair courtesy vehicle program.

QUICK SHEET
Base Price: $14,999 /As tested: $16,994

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door hatchback

Engine: 2.0-liter inline-4
Horsepower: 143 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual

Curb weight: 2,904 lbs
Wheelbase: 98.4 in
Length/Width/Height:
162.8/69.1/63.2 in
Turning circle: 35.4 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
Suspension: independent front and semi-independent rear
Traction:
all-wheel drive, optional traction control and vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags

0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds (est.)
Top Speed: N/A

EPA City: 23 mpg
EPA Highway: 28 mpg


Likes: Sporty steering, ride and gearbox; build quality; spacious interior; good looks; standard features; all-wheel drive

Dislikes :
Fuel economy should be better

Check out other Suzuki models
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PJR090106
(Updated: 12/20/11 NW)

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