2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback Review


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2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback

TOTAL KNOWLEDGE: Suzuki Buyers Guide

THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback

Model: 2011 Suzuki SX4 Sportback
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 150 hp @ 6,200 rpm/140 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 98.4 in.
Length/Width/Height: 162.0 x 69.1 x 61.8 in.
Tires: P205/50R17
Cargo volume: 51.8 cu. ft. max
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26.4 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal.
Curb weight: 2,734 lbs.
Sticker: $17,994 (includes $745 destination and delivery; $250 for Bluetooth with screen graphics)

My Bottom Line The Suzuki SX4 Sportback is a cheap car, and there's no way the "slam-the-door" test is going to convince you otherwise. But it's still a fun vehicle to drive and as a mini SUV, it has practicality as well.

I have to take back all the mean things I said earlier about the Suzuki SX4. The one I tested earlier was, to be blunt, a dog. Performance was poor and the entire driving experience was a bummer. But this one is a dream. It's fun to drive, practical, economical and halfway decent for a small car. Suzuki earned its reputation building small cars that can often be described as cheap. But this SX4 is far above bottom-line cheap, although it still carries a relatively low sticker price. It gives economy a good name.

Okay, what about that economy? Well, we got 26.4 mpg in our test, that included both Interstates and suburban roads. The EPA claims you can get 30 mpg on the highway, and that seems possible.

The engine is a 2.0-liter double overhead cam inline four that generates a nice 150 horsepower. Since the SX4 only weighs 2,734 pounds, that's enough power to give it some oomph. The engine drives the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission, so it's possible to extract as much performance as the engine can give.

The shifter is smooth and we didn't make many mistakes. The ratios were well chosen so it was easy to find the right gear to get the maximum performance from the engine.

With a wheelbase of 98.4 inches and an overall length of just 162 inches (13.5 feet), the SX4 is definitely small. But we still were able to put two child seats in the back plus still have decent cargo capacity behind the second row seats. Access to that cargo is made easier with a large hatch,. which has a wiper and washer to keep it clean.

The small footprint of the SX4 makes is easy to park and fun to handle. It's similar in size to a Toyota Matrix (at least when we parked next to one), yet it has a tight turning radius. Handling is small-car decent. This ain't no Cadillac, but you'll still enjoy the handling.

In addition, the SX4 did well on our hillclimb with winding road test track. There was minimal lean in the tighter corners.

There are faux wing windows located well forward of the sloping A-pillar. I thought these were useless and more of a design element, until I had to use one of them to see oncoming traffic at a weird intersection. There is a pair in the rear as well.

The front seats are comfortable, and offered no problems, even on longer trips. As I said earlier, the rear seats accommodate two child seats, although we had to move one of the front seats forward a notch to provide enough legroom for the 5-year-old.

The navigation screen pops up from the top of the dash. It's inconspicuous when you don't need it. It's easy to program. Despite the small screen and being far away from the driver's eyes, the Garmin Nuvi is easy to read.

There's a good cargo area behind the second row seats. Fold those seats down (after removing the child seats) and it expands to 51.8 cubic feet, more than enough for most carrying jobs.

We drove the SX4 in some bitter cold weather and were grateful for the good HVAC system. It warmed the car quickly. The audio system is also good. It was equipped with satellite radio, but it wasn't hooked up. We used FM for a change, and while it wasn't as clean as SiriusXM, it gave good sound. I listen to Philadelphia classical music stations and sometimes the reception isn't that great, but the Suzuki system worked well.

I was happy that this iteration of the Suzuki SX4 performed as well as it did. I remember driving one a long time back and enjoyed it. This one revived the experience.

2011 The Auto Page

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