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Suzuki Verona Road Test

By John Heilig  
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $17,000 - $21,000 Mid-Sized Sedan
Who should buy this car: If you are looking for an inexpensive mid-sized sedan for the price of a compact, this is your ride.
Comparable models in this class: Honda Accord, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Pontiac Grand Am, Saturn L300, Toyota Camry

F
or years Suzuki has cultivated and nurtured a reputation as a builder of small, inexpensive-to-cheap cars. The small Suzuki sport utilities are good vehicles at the bottom end of the scale. As are the small sedans.

There was a hint of a shift to upscale with the introduction of the XL-7 variant of the Grand Vitara. The XL-7 was an almost-midsize SUV with quite a few nice luxury features. This year, the XL-7 adds a 5-speed automatic transmission, but that isn't the vehicle under discussion this time.

The vehicles we're discussion is another step up for Suzuki, the Verona mid-size sedan. Verona is an all-new vehicle for Suzuki and is a product of a joint working arrangement between Suzuki, GM and Daewoo. The car is built in Korea.

Verona began life as a Daewoo Leganza, which in its own right was a decent mid-size car. But with input from GM, it has been transformed into a very nice mid-size sedan. The chief engineer, for example, is a Korean who spent many years working for GM of Europe at Opel, and has had several other GM assignments along the way. Verona is also the first of at least two vehicles to be adapted from the Daewoo parts bin.

Under the hood of the Verona is a 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine that develops 155 horsepower. Suzuki has more powerful six-cylinder engines in its arsenal, but the inline six was chosen for its inherent smoothness. Unfortunately, it's lower in power than the other sixes and is designed to compete with the Camry and Accord four-cylinder models, the current best-sellers in this class.

I would have liked to have an Accord and Camry for a side-by-side comparison.  My memory tells me, though, that the Verona has adequate power and roominess to compete favorably with the competition.

Our test route took us through some winding roads, Interstates, hills and beachside highways, and the Verona proved to be a smooth performer throughout.

Initially, I felt the Verona had a "boaty" ride as it floated along on the Interstate. With more miles under the tires, though, I realized that the mushy ride was more a product of the road than the car. I liked the slight stiffness of the suspension, making it a pleasure to drive on winding roads.

The front suspension is comprised of MacPherson struts, while the rear suspension is a sophisticated multi-link arrangement. There is a front anti-sway bar and gas-filled shock absorbers.

Interior room in the Verona is excellent. According to Suzuki, the car's interior dimensions exceed those of Camry and Accord, while legroom is also greater. In a car that aspires to be a CarParts.com, rear-seat legroom is important.

There's also a generous 13.4 cubic foot trunk in back to carry all your belongings.

Standard equipment on the base Verona S includes a four-speed automatic transmission, power windows and door locks, heated mirrors, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The LX adds automatic climate control, alloy wheels and ABS. The top-of-the-line Verona EX adds a power sunroof, heated leather seats and an eight-way adjustable power driver's seat, with traction control as the only option.

The sound system is an in-dash CD/cassette player with AM/FM stereo radio. Sound system controls are on the steering wheel. Other high-end goodies include overhead illuminated vanity mirrors mounted in the sun visors, split folding rear seat backs, a padded fold-out rear center arm rest and floor mats.  Top all that off with a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty and a surprisingly low price for the loaded EX of $20,699 (which includes the traction control option) and you have a genuine bargain.

I was impressed with the XL-7 when I first drove it. When I had a chance to drive one with the new 5-speed automatic, I liked it as well.

The Verona is a step up and in another direction for Suzuki. The car is pleasant to look at, has decent power and handling, and has enough room inside to qualify as a solid mid-size sedan without obscene exterior dimensions that make it seem too large.

Suzuki's step up is a big one, and can only mean more interesting cars and SUVs in the future.

2003 The Auto Page Syndicate

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Specifications 

Engine Type 2.5 liter double overhead cam (DOHC) 24 valve inline-6
Horsepower 155 @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 177 @ 4000 RPM
Transmission 4-speed electronically controlled automatic
Drive Type front-wheel drive
Tires - Standard
Tires - LX & EX
P205/65R15 all season tires
P205/55R16
all season tires
Overall Length 187.8"
Wheelbase 106.3"
Width 71.5"
Turning Diameter 34.2 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 3,307 lbs.
Fuel Tank 17.2 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 20 , hwy 28. 
Base Price $17,199  plus $500 destination charge 
Price as tested $20,699  plus $500 destination charge

2004 Suzuki Verona

Standard Equipment
(partial list)

  • 2.5 liter 6 cylinder engine
  • Automatic transmission
  • external temperature display
  • compass
  • ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes
  • Front Fog/Driving Lights
  • cloth upholstery
  • split-folding rear seat with fold down center armrest
  • power windows
  • power door locks
  • power heated mirrors
  • cruise control
  • tilt steering wheel
  • overhead console with storage
  • air conditioning with interior air filtration
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel & shift knob
  • audio and cruise controls on steering wheel
  • AM/FM cassette in-dash single CD player stereo with 6 speakers

LX Also adds

  • P205/55R16 tires on alloy wheels
  • Antilock brakes
  • Automatic climate control AC

EX Also adds

  • leather upholstery
  • heated front seats
  • 8-way power driver seat
  • electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
  • power glass sunroof

Major Available Options

  • Antilock brakes (for base model)
  • Traction Control (available only on EX)

For more information on the Suzuki Verona, visit www.suzuki.com

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