Suzukis stubby little crossover, with a tall roof, short wheelbase, standard all-wheel drive and spacious greenhouse, is not quite like any other vehicle on the road.
Suzuki says the five-door hatchback SX4 is targeted at folks who live an adventurous life. Its small size gives it the maneuverability and economy of a subcompact, yet it has the hauling versatility of a compact SUV.
From the drivers seat, the SX4s high roof and sweeping windshield create an expansive view thats open and inviting. The front seat feels spacious, and theres plenty of legroom. The back seat, of course, is smaller, although legroom for adults is adequate. Luggage space, as you would expect in a car with a 98.4-inch wheelbase, is small.
The SX4 is available in two trim levels: standard and Sport. Two option packages are offered as well. Prices start at $14,999, making it one of the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicles. Standard equipment includes power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD player with four speakers, tilt steering wheel and 16-inch alloy wheels.
An SX4 Sport with the automatic transmission tops out at $18,174.
A seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty is standard.
The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine has 143 horsepower. The test car was equipped with an automatic transmission, and fuel economy is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. I averaged just under 26 mpg in mixed city and freeway driving.
The SX4s performance is certainly adequate, if not scintillating. I never felt as if I needed more power to keep up with traffic or make a pass on a two-lane road. The five-speed manual would likely feel livelier, but the automatic is effortless in city driving.
Suzukis all-wheel-drive system operates in three modes via a console-mounted switch: front-wheel drive for maximum economy, automatic all-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive lock mode. In auto, the system sends up to 50 percent of the drive torque to the rear wheels depending on conditions. In lock mode, power goes to the rear wheels to facilitate traction in snow or mud. Above 36 miles per hour, the system automatically switches into automatic mode.
The ability to lock the system in all-wheel drive is immensely useful in deep snow.
The SX4s cabin is practical and efficient. The seats are covered in a dark patterned cloth, and the plastic on the console has a fairly smooth texture. It should be easy to keep the interior clean by wiping it out.
The 60/40 split-folding rear seat folds forward for carrying cargo. Luggage space is 22 cubic feet with the seat folded, but only 9.5 cubic feet with the seat up.
The cabin also has a number of storage bins, including places for a water bottle in each front door.
The front seats have firm cushions and good lateral support. The upright seating position makes the seat feel like a kitchen chair, and that makes it easy to get into and out of the vehicle. Six airbags are standard on the SX4, including side-impact and side-curtain airbags that are designed to protect both front and rear passengers.
The SX4 has impressively powerful, four-wheel disc brakes. Anti-lock is standard and the sport package includes vehicle stability control and traction control.
For a vehicle with such a short wheelbase, the SX4 rides quite comfortably. The suspension is firm but not overly harsh. The car tracks nicely in turns and feels rock-steady at highway speeds. Sixteen-inch wheels and a wide track contribute to a feeling of stability.
Point: The SX4 is tight and lively. The tall roof and tiny van shape give reasonable room in a vehicle with a 98.4-inch wheelbase that is about as long as a small sports car. Standard all-wheel drive is great for bad weather, and the brakes are quite strong.
Counterpoint: Cargo space is small with the back seat upright.
Standard Equipment (partial list)
143 hp 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine
5-speed manual transmission
16 inch alloy wheels
4 wheel disc brakes with ABS
Dual front side mounted air bags
Front & rear head curtain air bags
Tire pressure monitoring
Rear locking differential
5 person seating capacity
Remote power door locks
Tilt steering column
AM/FM in-dash single CD player, CD-controller with CD MP3 Playback and 4 speakers
The base model with convenience package adds... (partial list)
Cruise and audio controls on steering wheel
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
The Sport model adds... (partial list)
Front fog/driving lights
Automatic climate control
AM/FM in-dash 6 CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo and 9 speakers
Major Available Options
For more information on the Suzuki SX4, visit suzuki.com
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