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2007 Suzuki XL7 Review

 

America's Rebound SUV

A three-quarter front view of a 2007 Suzuki XL7

In short: A comfortable, roomy seven-passenger SUV.

There are plenty of signs that America’s love affair with SUVs is waning. With hefty gas prices, it seems people are rethinking the logic behind cruising in a two-ton V8-powered behemoth with only two toddlers in the back and a grande cappuccino riding shot gun.

Yet with its new XL7, Suzuki is banking on the notion that some families still need the space, seating capacity and higher perspective that an SUV provides—albeit on a crossover platform that benefits ride and fuel economy. They are also hoping that families will appreciate good value when they see it; as the XL7 undercuts similarly sized and equipped competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander by thousands. Suzuki has become America’s fastest-growing automaker by relying on value pricing and its stellar warranty, and if there are still buyers for seven-passenger SUVs (and there definitely are), the XL7 should certainly find them.

2007 Suzuki XL7

Like most of Suzuki's products (excluding the Grand Vitara and new SX4), the XL7 is based on a General Motors platform—in this case the same one that underpins the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent. All body panels are unique, however, including the eye-catching wedge headlights. With nine more inches of rear space than its GM cousins, the XL7 lives up to its name by offering room for seven passengers. The third row flips flush into the floor like the Honda Pilot does, and it is actually reasonably comfortable for average-sized adults on shorter journeys. Like almost all three-row SUVs, though, ingress or egress from its caboose seating is about as graceful an exercise as a sumo wrestler filling in for Michael Flatley.

The XL7 is noticeably less tall and wide than other seven-passenger SUVs (notably the Pilot) and subsequently didn’t feel cumbersome driving through the mountain roads near the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif (pictured below). The numb steering is a disappointing harbinger of its Equinox heritage, but nevertheless, the XL7 delivers the “car-like” driving experience that just about every SUV driver is looking for nowadays.

Under the hood is a Suzuki-built version of GM’s “high-feature” 3.6-liter V6 equipped with variable valve timing. Delivering 252 horsepower, it felt reasonably powerful, pulling our fully loaded tester up and around mountains. For those in frostier climes, all-wheel drive is optional, but the XL7’s front-drive lay-out should provide plenty of rainy-day assurance (and better fuel economy) for those living in California, Florida and other places where the sun does shine.

Inside you’ll find an environment easy to live with, but nothing to gush about. The radio, navigation system and steering wheel are clearly boosted from GM’s radically improved parts bin, while the gear shift looks oddly BMW. Frankly, these aren’t exactly problems (only trivial nitpicks), so it’s a safe bet that most people will find the interior an otherwise comfortable place to be with plenty of standard and optional features. Our test car’s upgraded stereo featured a six-disc CD changer, XM-radio capability and an auxiliary audio port (a DVD entertainment system is optional). Heated front seats and an automatic climate control system with rear secondary controls will keep all three rows of passengers comfortably cool and/or toasty.

Consider that all these features come in at a price under 30 grand, and it becomes clear why the XL7 deserves a look. It might not be exceptional in any particular area, but it does everything well enough for an average family looking for an affordable, well-equipped, spacious, reasonably fuel-friendly, car-like SUV with enough visual flair to get the neighbors’ attention. If America’s love affair with big SUVs is over, Suzuki is looking to provide its rebound guy.

A three-quarter rear view of a 2007 Suzuki XL7

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

QUICK SHEET
Base Price: $22,899 /As tested: $27,949

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door SUV

Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower: 252 bhp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 243 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Curb weight: 4,049 lbs
Wheelbase: 112.4 in
Length/Width/Height:
197.2/72.2/68.9 in
Turning circle: 41.8 ft

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

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags in all three rows

0-60 mph: 8.0 seconds

EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 23 mpg


Likes: Low price; high feature content; roomy interior; eye-catching front-end

Dislikes: Hodge-podge interior materials and design; numb steering; third row entry and exit

Check out other Suzuki models
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P083106
(Updated: 02/08/12 NW)

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