Category Archives: Suzuki

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Ultimate Adventure Edition FWD (Front Wheel Drive) (931)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Ultimate Adventure Edition FWD (Front Wheel Drive).

Consumer Reports thinks it is noisy and sluggish and has poor fuel economy at 19 overall. I can’t take too much exception with that evaluation but didn’t find it all that noisy. But as I note below, it struggles with the 166 horsepower that some will find annoying. I did not.

Consumers give it only a “B” in most categories but it gets an A- in ‘Quality’ which is for me the most important measure. I agree with the comments, as it has always been a steady reliable brand. Consumers also rate it high in performance which I do not agree with since fuel economy is not really good for an inline 4-cylinder engine.

If you don’t have a burning need for speed and jackrabbit starts, like me, you won’t get too excited with the performance. But while I’m on the subject, I test all cars over challenging mountain roads and I was pleased with the road hugging quality because of all the high tech control features that are standard. Even sports cars found no need to pass. Impressive.

General Information:

Parts content – US/ Canadian 1%, Japan 88%. It is assembled in Iwata, Japan; Classification is SUV. Cars from Suzuki: Equator, Grand Vitara, Kizashi, SX4 Crossover & SX4 Sport.

Opinion:

It never ceases to amaze me how inconsiderate or inept too many are on our highways. I suspect with rare exception they don’t do it on purpose to piss off other drivers, but rather because they are just don’t have the experience. We live in a great melting pot in the United States where you are sharing the road with a wide variety of folks in driving (transportation) experiences.

Go, for example, to countries where there isn’t such diversity in the modes of transportation. Everyone pretty much employs the same kind of vehicle. Whether the vehicles are Camels, Donkeys, motor scooters, bicycles or older automobiles – everyone is pretty much in the same kind of vehicle in those lesser developed countries. Animal powered travelers don’t crash into each other very often and the wild fast and furious driving habits (and skills, I might add) in Asia or Italy where 1 liter engines or less (25-100 hp for example) make clones of all travelers. You won’t see a wide variety of speeds.

But in the US you have all those levels of driving experience coming together using the Highways. The result is uncontrolled chaos. It’s a wonder we don’t have more traffic accidents for the very reason that putting a ‘camel jock’ in a car on a freeway in the US along with a Vietnamese immigrant with motor bike mentality all together with the vast majority of drivers who were ‘born in the USA’, guys and gals alike. They were raised behind the wheel and grew up burning the rubber off the tires at every stop sign or signal and the combination of drivers makes for an interesting day of driving. The opposite would apply if all those US bred guys and gals went to Saigon, for example, and tried to travel along with the madness of closely packed masses all on motorized bikes with no formal order or etiquette. But they grew up in that environment and are as comfortable in those travel conditions as US drivers are on US Highways. But they weren’t driving at 70 and 80 mph on a 5-lane freeway.

It’s kinda like a ‘Jalopy Derby’ with junk cars to Rolls Royce’s all vying for position in a “Street Race” we call a commute.

Handling & Performance:

This Suzuki struggles with acceleration a bit, but other than that, it does what it has to do with 166 horsepower. And although it sports all wheel drive the fuel economy suffers.

Styling:

Right in there with the competition that is pretty generic with the exception of the distinctive Jeep Wrangler and Mitsubishi Outlander with a bold distinctive grill.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

This segment of the SUV market is very close and the Suzuki is aggressively competitive.

Conveniences and comfort:

Most everything you need and you won’t be giving up features for the reduced purchase price.

Consumer Recommendation:

Pretty tight grouping of very similar SUV’s. I’m partial to the All American rough and tumble Jeep, but it is very difficult to pick out the best of the best. It’s midsize and if you can live with 5 seating and average space for cargo this is a very cost effective market segment.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Grand Vitara $24,000, GMC Terrain $ n/a, Kia Sportage $28,000, Honda CR-V $22,000, Hyundai Tucson $25,000, Jeep Compass $24,000, Jeep Liberty $23,000, Ford Escape $30,000, Jeep Wrangler $28,000, Mazda CX-5 $28,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $25,000, Nissan Rogue $26,000, Subaru Forester $28,000 and Toyota RAV4 $26,000.

Good News:

Well priced, good styling albeit generic, good size on balance, and great list of standard stuff.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 166 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, auto trans, zero maintenance timing chain, front wheel drive, electronic brake assist ABS 4-wheel disc brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution, stability control, traction control, full size spare and cover, front – side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, LATCH system, power windows locks and mirrors, steering wheel audio controls, Cruise Control, keyless entry with panic alarm, voice activated NAV, touch screen display, traffic info, Google search for Gas, ATM & food, climate control, CD/ AM/FM audio with MP3 aux jack, (Ultimate Adventure standard) – heated front seats, Leather wrapped steering wheel, 18” smoked alloy wheels, fog lights, side view mirror turn signals and water resistant 2-tone seats.

 Gas Stats:

$3.69/ Gal avg. July 17, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

19 City and 23 Highway MPG

 Pricing:

MSRP $23,949.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2012 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab RMZ-4 V6 4X4 Pickup Truck (922)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab RMZ-4 V6 4X4 small Pickup Truck. Many will appreciate that it is built by Nissan and other than styling it is a Frontier underneath it all.

If you need a small pickup and won’t be using the RMZ-4 off road feature / Package noted below, the pricing begins at $19,000.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 50%, Japan 25%. It is assembled in Smyrna, TN, U.S.A., Classification is Small Pickup Truck. Cars from Suzuki: Equator, Grand Vitara, Kizashi, SX4 Crossover and SX4 Sport.

Handling & Performance:

Oodles of power for a small truck, and I was surprised… but the fuel economy suffers. Turning radius is long and that was noticeable during around town driving, because it makes parking more difficult.

Towing capacity is very good at 6,500 pounds.

Styling:

Nice design and lots of room for 4 adults. Some refer to it as a Nissan Frontier under the Suzuki brand. I can’t argue with that and that is pretty common today to share platforms with other makes.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Higher pricing than I expected until I drove it and it is clear you get what you pay for. In any case it is in a group of competitors that are closely aligned in price. But as I say, if all the bells and whistles are not needed or wanted the base model at $19,000 is good.

The added cost of my test vehicle resulted from the inclusion of RMZ-4 off-road package that also features a moon roof, Dana 44 axles, electronic rear-locking differential, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, BFG Rugged Trail tires, unique seat trim with red stitching and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Conveniences and comfort:

Nice spray on bed liner and the tie down tracks make it easy to secure loads. Nice. I’ve owned an extended cab truck so for me it is far more convenient to have the Crew Cab roominess and full size rear door.

Consumer Recommendation:

If a small truck is what you want this is a solid, tight truck that is a comfortable ride on the road. The field is close in most respects and I have no favorites here. The Ranger cannot be ignored however and I was impressed with the Honda Ridgeline as well. And since they are all so close price would be a determining factor. Be a tough negotiator because dealers are willing to deal. This is a buyer’s market. Don’t forget that.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Equator $30,000, Ford Ranger $25,000, Honda Ridgeline $29,000, Nissan Frontier $32,000, Toyota Tacoma $28,000, Chevrolet Colorado $30,000, GMC Canyon $29,000, Dodge Ram Dakota $30,000.

Good News:

Ride is surprisingly smooth for a pickup truck as equipped, power is plentiful, nice tie down system,

Bad News:

Poor turning radius, poor fuel economy, still pricy for a small truck.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 261 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, 4-wheel drive on demand, hill hold control, electric locking rear differential, skid plates, 4-wheel abs disc brakes, spray on bed liner and tie down tracks with cleats, dynamic control, front side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, fog lights, air conditioning, power windows and locks and mirrors, audio with CD, cruise control, tilt wheel, remote keyless entry, rear flip up seats, rear privacy glass.

Gas Stats:

$4.25/ Gal avg. May 18, 2012
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

15 City and 19 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,550.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Kizashi Sport GTS AWD (894)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kizashi Sport GTS AWD that’s really generating good reviews these days  because of good looks, a surprisingly large and upscale interior, and available on-demand AWD. When introduced the Kizashi was immediately seen as a serious competitor in the affordable family sedan market.

Kizashi only comes with one engine, a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that offers 180 horsepower when mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and 180 horsepower when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. Some competitors offer V6 or turbocharged engines in similar cars. However the 2.4-liter engine works well, revving freely and delivering spirited performance. The ride is better than you’d expect and is smooth and soft over even rough pavement, and relatively flat through the corners.

Despite the sport-tuned suspension, you won’t mistake the Kizashi for a BMW but you’ll keep more money in the bank.

Opinion:

I don’t know about you but I notice a kinder and gentler flow of traffic on the roads these days. I believe it is, in part, a result of the lousy economy and therefore less traffic. It also has a lot to do with governments relentlessly pursuit to raise revenue for the ‘state’ so they can keep their jobs while others lose their jobs in the private sector. People simply can’t afford the outrageous $1,000 fines and are more cautious and watchful.

I’m convinced most folks I talk with know the difference between the good guys and the corrupt bad guys in government.

Keep vigilant, slow down and stay out of harm’s way.

Handling & Performance:

The AWD traction and stability controls will be appreciated during heavy downpours and simply comfortable and entertaining to drive.

Styling:

Suzuki restyled Kizashi slightly for 2012 and added this Sport GTS AWD version. All Kizashi’s look aggressive, with a large air dam and bulging fenders that make them appear larger than they actually are. The Sport GTS version has an aero kit that includes a larger air dam, side body moldings and a trunk-mounted spoiler. The interior styling is clean and contemporary, with better than expected materials and easy-to-use controls. A big plus are the comfortable and deeply contoured front bucket seats, which provide excellent support.

Fit and Finish:

Very good for the money.

Cost:

Great pricing and it will never be better because after more people get acquainted with Suzuki’s limited number of models they will push up the demand and therefore the purchase price.

Conveniences and comfort:

Well equipped as is getting more customary with lower cost technology and it delivers a really comfortable ride.

Consumer Recommendation:

Yes… this is really worth the test drive.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Kizashi $25,000, Acura TSX $30,000, Audi A4 $33,000, Buick La Crosse $35,000, Buick Verano $23,000, Chevrolet Malibu $26,000, Chrysler 200 $27,000, Chrysler Sebring $20,000, Dodge Avenger $20,000, Ford Fusion $20,000, Honda Accord $21,000,  Hyundai Sonata $20,000, Infiniti G Sedan $32,000, Kia Optima $19,000, Lexus ES 350 $37,000, Lincoln MKZ $35,000, Mazda 6 $20,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22,000, Nissan Altima $20,000, Subaru Legacy $20,000, Toyota Camry $20,000, Volkswagen Jetta $15,000, Volvo S40 $28,000.

Good News:

Well priced, more than enough power and very comfortable.

Bad News:

None.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 180 HP inline 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, all wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS Bosch disc brakes, traction control, stability control, 8 standard air bags, front and rear side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitor, anti corrosion underbody, security system with immobilizer, smart key entry and push button ignition. Climate control, 10-way power driver seats, leather tilt / Telescoping wheel with audio and cruise controls, split rear seats with pass-through, heated mirrors, power tilt and slide sunroof, audio  with CD, 10-speakers, iPod & MP3 USB port, front fog lights, light weight sport wheels, sport tuned suspension.

Gas Stats:

$3.63/ Gal avg. November 25, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,749.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback (852)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback. Right off the get go, I have to say whoever was responsible for the sun visors that don’t extend should be shot, or at the very least run out of town. Ok, so that is one of my pet peeves when you can’t block the sun on the side window. Glad I got that out of my system. It just bugs me because I’d be willing to pay the extra $5.00 to make them slide.

Pea popper was the first thought that came to mind when I saw this SX4 up close and opened the door. But after I drove it for a while I got used to it being smaller than my need, but moreover it is much larger than the exterior would imply. Years ago I bought an efficient Ford Fiesta that was very basic and fit the need at the time. For the money I could see buying this SX4 for my kid’s graduation from high school. Guy or gal it would serve them well all the way through college. The VW bug was the hot ticket when I went through college.

Opinion: 

The thought occurred to me that everyone should buy one of these efficient cars. In fact, why can’t government force everyone to drive one of these green cars? Our social engineers in Washingtonshould take over all car makers, produce reliable green cars and while they’re at it, they could paint them all one uninteresting green color. Isn’t that the American way? Ford did it with the Model A and you could have any color you wanted as long as it was black…. oh, that’s right that was an innovative private enterprise company. Silly me.  

Handling & Performance:

Pea popper zippy little car that is fun to drive and handles well on the freeway at 70 mph. The 6-speed manual transmission covers for the minimal horsepower at 150. Finally we’re reaching fuel cost at the pump and a social awareness of the world cost of oil the rest of the world has always lived with. When gas in the US reaches world prices of about $8.00 a gallon you’ll see a lot more of these small cars on the road. You can take that to the bank.

Styling:

Clean and simple aerodynamic lines. Older car buffs will relate to the similarities between the cars of today and the cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Young drivers would modify the look and feel by ‘torching’ the springs in the front to lower it, which was referred to as putting it on a ‘rake’. It was done to reduce air drag (or make it more aerodynamic). It would be several years’ later Detroit brainiacs with computer aided design tools would figure out the same thing high school kids had been doing for decades. So now every new car comes off the production line just that way.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good in class which tends to be typical of Japanese cars.

Cost:

Excellent price to value.

Conveniences and comfort:

The most evident difference I see from the Ford Fiesta I owned and this SX4 is the many power features that were not readily available back then. Of course one of today’s competitors to the SX is in fact the new Ford Fiesta re-introduced recently. It is equally as nice as this SX4.

We handed our first Fiesta down to our daughter as a graduation gift for not flunking out or getting pregnant and having to drop out. (just kidding, she was a good student and earned the car). Our son bought his own car at 15 and a half, if that tells you anything. Of course boys are not as good in high school as girls because boys are more interested in cars and girls than doing homework.

Consumer Recommendation:

Beat the rush and buy a small car now before the rapid rise of gas prices that are imminent in the near future. It’s possible people will demand we drill and use up some of the 200 years worth of oil we have right here in the USA.  

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki SX4 $13-19,000, Chevrolet Aveo $12-15,000, Dodge Caliber $17-20,000, Ford Fiesta $13-17,000, Ford Focus $17-20,000, Honda Fit $15-19,000, Hyundai Accent $10-15,000, Hyundai Elantra $15-20,000, Jeep Compass $15-25,000, Jeep Patriot $16-24,000, Kia Forte $15-19,000, Kia Rio $12-16,000, Mazda3 $16-23,000, Nissan Versa $10-17,000, Toyota Corolla $16-18,000, Toyota Yaris $13-14,000.

Good News:

Fun to drive, economical, roomier than the size implies.

Bad News:

Sun visors don’t extend.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 150 hp inline 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability program, traction control, 8 standard air bags front side and side curtain bags front and rear, tire pressure monitor, LATCH child anchor system with rear safety locks, keyless entry, fog light5s, air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, audio with CD/ MP3, Cruise control and tilt leather wrapped steering wheel mounted audio controls, trip computer, fold flat split rear seats, rear window defroster and wiper.

Gas Stats:

$3.31/ Gal avg. Feb 7, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $16,499.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS (836)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS FWD sedan. Now in its second model year it is Suzuki’s most expensive vehicle in the crowded mid-sized segment. Its name in Japanese means “something great is coming.” They claim it is an alternative to the Audi A4 and arguably the best deal in this class.
It is offered in four trim levels: S, SE, GTS and SLS. All trims are powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that produces 185 horsepower when mated with the 6-speed manual transmission and 180 horsepower when equipped with the available CVT.

Standard equipment includes automatic climate control; power windows, locks and mirrors; push-button starting; and AM/FM/CD audio system with USB port. The SE adds a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. The GTS comes with fog lights, a sunroof, a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming and cell phone connectivity, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The SLS adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, power front passenger seat and rear park assist. Options include a navigation system with a rearview camera and an all-wheel-drive system with heated outside mirrors.

Opinion:

• Washington Post – “The Kizashi is the best car yet to come to the United States wearing a Suzuki badge. The exterior is round and solid in homage to European small-car design.”
• Consumer Guide – “Suzuki positions Kizashi as a penny pincher’s premium sport sedan. The car is aimed at shoppers who aspire to upscale sporty sedans such as the Acura TSX or Audi A4, but may not have the budget. In terms of engine performance and overall refinement, Kizashi comes up a bit short of its goal. However, it delivers nimble, sports-sedan-worthy handling while maintaining a composed and relatively pleasant ride.”.
• I’ve read that others feel that a name change would do wonders, and I agree and perhaps something great IS coming in a new name for this serious contender for top billing along with the established badges on the road.
Handling & Performance:

The 185 horsepower engine and 6-speed manual transmission is a top performer and of course fun to drive. It will do 0-60 in 8 seconds relative to say a 6 liter corvette that will do it in half that time to put it into perspective. But this is a great all around car to own because it also carries 4 large adults and will carry a load of groceries and other things the Vette won’t.

Styling:

Clean and simple and indeed a contender for other more expensive badges. Unchanged from its introduction in 2010.

Fit and Finish:

Typical close attention to detail the Japanese have come to be known for.

Cost:

Mid-range in a crowd of very nice cars and unchanged from the 2010 edition.

Conveniences and comfort:
Competitive with the best of them.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Kizashi $19-27,000, Acura TSX $29-38,000, Audi A4 $32-36,000, Buick LaCrosse $26-33,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22-27,000 Chrysler Sebring $20-33,000, Dodge Avenger $20-22,000, Ford Fusion $20-29,000, Honda Accord $21-32,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-25,000, Infiniti G Sedan $33-37,000, Kia Optima $18-23,000, Lexus ES 350 $35,175, Lincoln MKZ $34-36,000, Mazda 6 $19-29,000, Mercury Milan $22-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22-24,000, Nissan Altima $20-30,000, Subaru Legacy $20-31,000, Toyota Camry $20-29,000, Volkswagen Jetta $15-24,000, Volvo S40 $26-31,000.

Good News:

Nice handling, keyless ignition, quiet, agile and all around good commuter and family sedan.

Bad News:

Nothing worth mentioning.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 185 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, variable assist power steering, Electronic Stability Program, Traction control system, 8 standard air bags front, side and side curtain, tire pressure monitoring, fog lights, security system with smartpass keyless entry and start, power sunroof, dual zone climate control, Rockford Fosgate audio with MP3 and USB input, Bluetooth system, leather, rain sensing wipers, reverse parking sensors, cruise control, tilt and telescoping leather wheel, 10-way power driver and passenger heated seats, power heated mirrors, sport tuned suspension, light weight sport wheels and sport designed steering wheel.

Gas Stats:

$3.07/ Gal avg. November 27, 2010
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

20 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,699.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS (805)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS Front Wheel Drive 4-door sedan. What’s in a name? Well in Japanese Kizashi means A great thing is coming.

This comes from a car company mostly known in the past for making cheap and simplistic cars. One that comes to mind was the Samurai small SUV that I think Suzuki would like us to forget. It was introduced in the US and sold here beginning in 1970 through about 2005. Friend Rick had one back in 1980 and for his short commute it worked fine for him but many issues just couldn’t be overlooked. Suits and recall demands must have played a big role in the model being discontinued.

Be prepared to be surprised with Kizashi because the company is working hard to change the image in a world starved for new offerings that are inexpensive yet look good and handle well. This is a real move forward for Suzuki.

The company says interior materials and standard equipment levels rival an entry-level luxury car at a value price. An all-wheel-drive system is also offered which normally sends most of the power to the front wheels but can direct up to 50 percent to the rear wheels. The all-wheel-drive system can be turned off to help improve fuel economy. Suzuki has confirmed that a hybrid system developed with General Motors will be offered in the next two years. A turbocharged 4-cylinder or a V6 engine may also be added.

Opinion:

I would like to know your views on issues you think need to be aired. I tend to be strongly bent on raising awareness about highway and general driving concerns. But they are my observations and I’d like to hear yours. I receive emails for and against my views and I welcome your email communications. joe@atthewheel.com.

Handling & Performance:

Good power even from the 4-cylinder engine. The standard equipment includes high end safety features you’d pay much more for in a ‘luxury badge’.

Styling:

Some think this Kizashi resembles the Audi and Suzuki is pitting it against the Acura TSX. I like the style but the name is ‘foreign’ and not easy to attach to a high end car.

Fit and Finish:

Good.
Cost:

Competitive.

Conveniences and comfort:

A lot of the best stuff. And it occurs to me that technology has done a lot to level the playing field and give the much less advantage to the luxury badges.
Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Kizashi $19-27,000, Acura TSX $29-38,000, Audi A4 $31-34,000, Buick LaCrosse $26-33,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22-27,000, Chrysler Sebring $20-35,000, Dodge Avenger $20-22,000, Ford Fusion $20-28,000, Honda Accord $21-31,000, Hyundai Sonata $19-25,000, Infiniti G Sedan $33-37,000, Kia Optima $18-23,000, Lexus ES 350 $35,175, Lincoln MKZ $34-36,000, Mazda 6 $18-28,000, Mercury Milan $22-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22-24,000, Nissan Altima $20-30,000, Subaru Legacy $20-30,000, Toyota Camry $19-29,000, Volkswagen Jetta $18-25,000, Volvo S40 $26-31,000.

Good News:

New entrant to compete is a purchase advantage, decent fuel economy, attractive styling, excellent standard features.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 185 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, alloy wheels, Electronic Stability Program, Traction control system, 8 standard air bags front, side and side curtain, tire pressure monitoring, LATCH system, foglights, security system with smartpass keyless entry and start, heated sport leather seats, power tilt and slide sunroof, climate control, Rockford Fosgate audio with MP3 and USB input, Bluetooth system, auto rain sensing wipers, reverse parking sensors, cruise control, tilt and telescoping wheel, 10-way power driver seat and power passenger seat, power mirrors, split rear seat with pass through and multi function trip computer.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. March 29 ‘10
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

23 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,449.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2008 Suzuki SX4 FWD (697)

General Info:

Parts – Japan 100%
Assembly – Kosai, Japan
Class:  – Compact Cars
Cars: – Forenza, Forenza Wagon, Grand Vitara, Reno, SX4, SX4 Sport & XL7.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia       2008 Suzuki SX4 FWD

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2008 Suzuki SX4 FWD crossover compact
commuter. It is also available in All Wheel Drive. And continuing with the
theme of fuel efficient commuters this was a nice move up from the Chevrolet
Aveo for more comfort and power. But the competition listed is very close
and demands you look closely at all of them if you can.

Opinion and observation:

I have to mention again that speed control is the best way to prevent
accidents. But not just keeping within 10 miles of the posted limit which is
common for highway driving, but maintaining a constant speed is more
important. If you have cruise control use it for freeway driving and don’t
worry that others will pass you. When many of us do hold to a constant safe
speed others will follow suit and everyone benefits with less stressful
driving and you’ll get there within 5 minutes of what you would accelerating
and braking so much more without it. Keep the rubber side down.

Handling & Performance:

It’s amazing what you get out of 143 horsepower and a more sophisticated
engine. Handling is comfortable and no complaints on the mountain road
courses.

Styling:

The crossover design is very popular so they have built in some of the best
of consumer demand coupled with very good fuel economy that is above the
average in class. It is heavier than many but none are beautiful. Most are
plain Jane and none really light my fire but their design is more for
functionality with wedge shapes that stretch out the corners with wide
stance wheel positioning that allows maximum interior space.

The cargo area on the SX4 is very good with a convenient wide opening hatch.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good.

Cost:

Retail price is better than the average of others in class.

Features and Conveniences:

Very good complement of features made possible from a rapidly decreasing
cost of electronics. 2008 is an improvement over the 07.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a hot group of competitors that become more important with the bleak
possibility of gas prices rising to world levels over the next few years.
That level hovers around $7-8.00 a gallon. Look closely at the competition
and consider seriously one of these as a second car and dump the gas guzzler
you are probably driving now. I like the Toyota Yaris a lot, and have not
driven the Honda Fit or Aveo5 yet, but I have tested all the rest. You’ll
want to drive many if not all if you’ve decided to cut your transportation
fuel budget.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki SX4 $15-17,000,  Chevrolet Aveo5 $12-14,000, Hyundai Accent
$11-15,000, Mini Cooper $18-25,000, Scion xD  $14,550, Volvo C30 $23-26,000,
Dodge Caliber $14-22,000, Kia Rio $13-14,000, Nissan Versa $13-15,000,
Toyota Yaris $11-14,000, Honda Fit $14-16,000, Mazda3 $14-20,000, Saturn
Astra $15-18,000, VW Rabbit $16-18,000.

Good News:

Well priced, comfortable ride, handles well, crossover convenience, good
warranty and good fuel economy.

Bad News:

Plain Jane styling and noticeable high road noise levels.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter Inline 4 cylinder 143 hp engine, front wheel drive, 4-speed
automatic transmission, speed sensitive power steering, 17″ alloy wheels,
4-wheel antilock disc brakes, dual front and side airbags and side curtain
airbags, tire pressure monitoring, child seat tethers and rear door safety
locks, remote keyless entry, auto air conditioning, power windows and locks,
power heated mirrors, cruise control, tilt wheel, audio system with CD/MP3
player, intermittent wipers, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio
controls and 100,000 mile 7 year transferable power train warranty with
warranty repair courtesy car.

Gas Stats:

$3.71/ Gal avg. April 15, ’08
www.fueleconomy.gov <http://www.fueleconomy.gov>
for more information.

23 City and 31 Highway MPG
www.safercar.gov <http://www.safercar.gov>
or 888-327-4236

Pricing:

MSRP $16,370.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
<mailto:joe@atthewheel.com>
Copyright (c) 2008 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Suzuki XL7 (631)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2007 Suzuki XL7 midsize sport utility. Its sister, the Grand Vitara, is priced a few thousand less and has a very high consumer rating. I like the XL7 better and was really impressed with the product. I drove the base 3 row 2-wheel drive model and I have to tell you my comment comes after testing the new Audi Q7 with an MSRP of nearly $46,000. The Q7 is more luxuriously appointed but there are some annoying mechanical things that turned me off. Suzuki’s XL7 was faultless in every area save the fu fu – ness of the Audi. Know what I mean? At about half the money of the Audi I have to say this Suzuki is looking awfully good about now.

Observation:
Cell phones. Ok I know we all have bitches and complaints about the use of cells in almost every venue known to man. But for those being used in the car there are many opinions. Well I have to say I would defend the use of cells on the grounds that they defeat road rage. I have found, sitting in traffic, what would otherwise chap my hide is forgotten while I find time to make all those calls I’ve been ignoring during my busy day. And then magically I awake at my destination without all the stress.

Handling & Performance:
This XL7 feels more like a full size rather than a mid size SUV. The 252 horsepower V6 is great and the overall performance is a 10 in my book. I’ve noticed as you may have that more and more SUV’s are dropping the 4-wheel drive option. Why, because they suck up a lot more gas and so few will ever need the all wheel performance the cost just can’t be justified.

Styling:
Not only is this a Very Nice looking SUV it seats 7… count them – Seven. The seats fold down easily and they’ve done such a nice job with this XL7 in nearly every area you have to give the Emmy to Suzuki.

Fit and Finish:
Very good. Not the fine quality of the luxury brands but I think a trip to China for the entire family would be a better way to spend the extra money.

Cost:
Way cool dude! Everyone except the bag lady can buy one of these. I won’t tell you who said that. But it is true that this is super affordable and proves you don’t have to break the bank to have a new SUV. It gets very high marks for cost to value.

Conveniences and comfort:
Very good in this area – just look at the standard equipment. It will however have a noticeably higher level of road noise than the more pricey brands. And aside from the more expensive interior appointments and gadgets, like Navigation and Sirius Radio, the XL7 is comfy, thanks.

Consumer Recommendation:
Well, you noticed I compared this XL7 with a much more expensive brand. I suspect it is priced so well because it is a new entrant into the market. That’s a very good reason why I give it such high marks. It has to prove itself and if you’re in the market you’ll get the best deal in the class with this new Suzuki. The features that are standard are impressive as well with the likes of the stability and traction control systems and a host of other good stuff. Look real hard at this one. It’s a keeper.

Recognized Competition:
Suzuki XL7 $23-32,000, Dodge Durango $29-38,000, Nissan Murano $28-32,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $21-28,000, Ford Explorer $25-35,000, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $25-37,000, Toyota Highlander $25-32,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $28-43,000, Mitsubishi Endeavor $27-31,000, Honda Pilot $27-35,000, Kia Sorento $20-26,000.

Good News:
Well priced entrant into the class, decent fuel economy, new kid on the block has something to prove and nice styling is one.

Bad News:
Road noise may be a turnoff for some and sadly the lack of a popular brand badge will turn others away.

Standard Equipment:
3.6 liter 252 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, ESP – Electronic Stability Program, traction control system, self leveling rear suspension, tire pressure monitoring system, anti lock braking system with EBD – Electronic Brake distribution, air conditioning, split folding 3rd row seats, driver info and trip computer, audio system with CD player, cruise control, fold flat front passenger seat, tilt steering wheel, under flow cargo storage, side curtain airbags all rows, 16 inch alloy wheels, intermittent wipers, auto headlights, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, power mirrors, roof rails, privacy glass, security system with immobilizer,

Gas Stats:


$2.50/ Gal avg. Dec 06

18 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing:


MSRP $24,249.

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD (611)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD sport utility vehicle with the XSPORT PACAKGE. The next model up is the Luxury 4-WD that adds a sunroof, leather seats and $1,900 to the MSRP. No thanks.

Well, I scheduled this sport UTE for a trip to the back country of the Sierra National forest mountains of California . I had visited this area often in the past and it is as rugged as it gets. I wondered if I had made a wise decision not to schedule a Hummer or more (supposedly) capable 4-wheel drive vehicle or surely one with more cargo area. I was a little concerned when I began loading gear and essentials only to find the two women joining me on the trek up to the back country had packed for two – each. Ahhh, but there was the roof rack for suit cases with god knows what all was packed inside. If you have to ask why there were two women I’m not going to tell you. Just kidding – one was with me and the other – the wife of the guy already there setting up the base camp.

The area is just south of Mammoth Lakes and west of Mt. Whitney that reaches 14,494 feet into the California sky. The whole area represents some of the worlds most beautiful and majestic vistas that take your breath away. The famous John Muir trail winds its way north and south of our base camp at Jackass Meadow next to Florence Lake and the San Juakeen River. Other lakes you may recognize are Edison and Huntington and Shaver Lakes below.

Handling & Performance:

I would be crossing rivers and traverse rocky country and it didn’t take long to feel how capable this Suzuki handled the terrain. I was impressed. I had just tested the new Toyota FJ and wondered if it would have been any better, but I’ll never know. In any case this Suzuki became my buddy and did itself proud.

As you must know, 4-wheel drive vehicles seldom get off road (only 5% of the time), but this Grand Vitara got waaaay off road. The last 20 miles into our camp at 7,500 foot elevation in a valley east of the 9,000 foot Kaiser Pass, is a one lane winding road with sheer drop offs down craggy granite walls. And you know I never once felt uncomfortable even considering the gasps and groans from the passengers. “Don’t look down and you won’t be scarred”, I suggested.

Fuel economy, although not terrible isn’t impressive either.

Styling:

More cutesy than Grand but nice considering the price range. You tend to expect more from a pricier car.

Fit and Finish:

This Suzuki is put together so as to give the look and feel of a more expensive brand, and that considering I had just swapped out a Toyota Land Cruiser at about three times the money.

Cost:

You just have to wonder why you would spend two or three times the money for a good off road vehicle. The couple we were camping with brought along a 1942 Army Jeep, and although you can pay 5 figures for those classic Jeeps you can also get them for $6-8,000 a copy. They are fun to look at and ride in for the historical value but the Suzuki was much more comfortable and handled the road equally as well with a bit more confidence.

Conveniences:

Not only did I have more confidence in the chances of surviving the trek as compared to the Army Jeep, the Suzuki pampered me with comfortable seats, power windows as opposed to no windows, tilt steering wheel and air conditioning as opposed to “Open Air” with no top at all.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re into punishing yourself buy the Jeep but I suggest you consider the comfort of a more modern off road experience.

Recognized Competition:

Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Mercury Mariner $21-27,000, Chevrolet Equinox $21-24,000, Subaru Forester $22-28,000, Mercury Mariner Hybrid $29,000, Mazda Tribute $20-25,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $18-26,000, Jeep Liberty $21-26,000, Hyundai Tucson $18-24,000, Honda CR-V $20-25,000, Nissan Xterra $20-28,000, Toyota RAV4 $20-26,000, 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid $26-27,000 and 2007 Ford Escape $19-26,000.

Good News:

Nice ride, affordable 4-WD.

Bad News:

Accelerate button not very responsive with 185 hp and only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

2.7 liter 185 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, independent strut front and multilink rear suspension, 4-mode 4WD, ESP Electronic Stability Program and traction control, ABS brakes with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), front air bags and front and rear curtain airbags, keyless entry with Smartpass starting (key not needed to start engine as long as key fob is in the vehicle), climate control air, CD,AM/FM and XM radio, tilt wheel, cruise control, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, fog lights, full spare tire cover, privacy glass, roof rails and 16” Alloy Wheels.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,699.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2006 – An Automotive Love Affair

2005 Suzuki Reno EX (548)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2005 Suzuki Reno EX compact 5-seat sedan. This is a little big car in that it will seat 5 but it does feel small. But so did the C320, and for the money this is a great commuter or starter car for a young family on a tight budget. It is likely the best of the bunch for the money. See my top three picks below.

It is a sign of the times to see this Japanese carmaker opting to have this Reno assembled in Korea. Now even the Japanese are seeking less expensive labor to get their product to market at a profit. It is a definite sign they have achieved a standard of living second to none. Meaning their labor force has become too expensive for production line level of expertise. As I mentioned last time, such labor in China for example is 60-90 cents per hour. Korea must be competing and seeking to put their people to work also. It is no wonder the world is knocking at the door of developing country labor pools. The industrial revolution has now touched all parts of the globe. But it did take a century for others in the world to have the opportunity to share in the good life.

Handling & Performance:

Zips around like a bumper car. Just kidding. This is a real car and I felt right at home on the freeways as well. Ok, so it is a little intimidating when up against the big road hogs so prevalent today. Bigger isn’t better simply by virtue of size. OK, so there are some exceptions we won’t go into.

Styling:

Commuter cookie cutter might characterize the look, but that’s because it has such clean lines and similar to the more stylish Mercedes Benz C320 Coupe for twice the money.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good especially for the money.

Cost:

Excellent pricing. There is absolutely no excuse not to own a new car if ones ego can be left behind. Consider a young married couple that goes out to buy that Mercedes when they could have two – count them – two brand spanking new Reno’s. Go figure.

Conveniences:

Outstanding considering what the car sells for. Bottom line, extras (especially electronics) are not that much in today’s world.

Consumer Recommendation:

This Reno makes a great statement that you can not only afford a new car, you can have it with most all the features of cars at twice the money. I can’t imagine why ABS is an option, but for the $500 it’s worth the price for the added safety it affords.

My picks in this field is Toyota Corolla to Win, Nissan Sentra to Place and the Suzuki Reno to Show – that is if I were a betting man.

The Competition: 

Suzuki Reno $13-17,000, Ford Focus $13-18,000, Pontiac Vibe $17-20,000, Toyota Corolla $14-18,000, Toyota Matrix $15-19,000, Dodge Neon $14-21,000, Subaru Impreza $18-32,000, Scion xA $12,530, Honda Civic $13-22,000, Hyundai Accent $10-11,000, Saturn ION $11-21,000, Nissan Sentra $13-18,000, Volkswagen Golf $16-20,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $14-35,000, Kia Rio $10,000 and Mazda 3 $14-19,000.

Good News: 

Decent fuel economy, great pricing and a very comfortable commuter.

Bad News:

Small, lightweight may concern many with all those big SUV’s on the road to contend with.

Standard Equipment: 

2.0 liter 126 hp 4 cylinder engine, 5-speed manual trans, power steering, 4-wheel disc brakes, air conditioning, dual front and side airbags, cruise control, audio system with CD / MP3, tilt steering wheel with remote audio controls, leather wrapped wheel and shift knob, 60/40 split folding rear seats, alloy wheels, fog lights, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, power tilt / slide sunroof. Options: ABS brakes.

Gas Stats:

22 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing: 

MSRP $15,349.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2005 – An Automotive Love Affair