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New Car Review : 2004 Suzuki Forenza EX

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Bob Gordon
Co-publisher, The Auto Channel


What a nice surprise! I was really pleased with the Suzuki Forenza….it looks good, rides nice, and fits almost anyone’s pocketbook. This latest addition to American Suzuki's fast-growing lineup boasts prestigious European styling, a host of class-leading standard features typically reserved for luxury cars and a 2-liter double-overhead cam engine providing a smooth ride and big torque at low engine speed - all neatly packaged in a premium compact design offering more passenger room than Civic or Corolla.

The 2004 Suzuki Forenza is a car that should go to the top of everyone’s short list. Its equipment package, ride and looks make it a great alternative to its competitors and its warranty puts it at the top of its class, with value, peace of mind and a fun to drive feel. Don’t miss this opportunity to save money and enjoy a long term relationship with this car.

With the all-new Forenza, value-seeking sedan shoppers finally can find everything they want in a sophisticated, European-styled premium compact for an MSRP starting at $12,499. The $12,499 list price is for the well-equipped Forenza S version; the mid-level LX starts at $14,399, and the line-topping Forenza EX carries an MSRP of $15,999


The ride in the Forenza is remarkably and pleasantly smooth and comfortable and “big car” quiet. MacPherson strut suspension up front and a dual-link system in back, with gas-pressurized shocks at all four corners, combined with the Forenza's speed-sensing power steering (which automatically adjusts the power steering assist according to the vehicle speed) results in agile but stable handling and a high level of comfort. The speed-sensitive steering provides extra boost for slow-speed, parking-lot maneuvers without sacrificing precise steering feel at highway speeds. All Forenzas are equipped with 15-inch wheels with P195/55R15 all-season tires.


Power for the Forenza comes from a sophisticated that drives the front wheels. Although I really thought that the aggressive look and feel of the car warranted more power I would imagine that most owners of this car will be satisified with its double-overhead cam, four-valve-per-cylinder engine that displaces two liter and produces 119 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque at a 4,000 rpm. Suzuki says that most of the Forenza's competitors produce their peak torque at a much higher rpm, which makes for more downshifting, more waiting or sometimes both.

The powerplant was mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Bi-directional hydraulic engine and transmission mounts help cancel out engine noise and vibration to keep the passenger compartment quiet. Also helping to quell noise is an insulated engine cover, a triple muffler system and tri-fold weather stripping.

The Forenza is equipped with standard four-wheel disc brakes for superior fade-free stopping power. The optional four channel Bosch ABS system features Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), which redistributes braking force according to changing vehicle loads.


The new 2004 Suzuki Forenza like the legendary Ferrari Daytona, the F355 and Maranello, the Forenza was styled by Pininfarina. European stylists are nothing if not expressive and this definitely shows in the Forenza. The Forenza’s crisp hood lines, steeply raked nose and dual cylindrical halogen headlights and curving roofline plus angled rear styling creates a trunk that's aerodynamically friendly on the outside and capacious on the inside: at 12.4 cubic feet, it's larger than those offered by virtually all of its competitors. The Forenza's exterior look is finished off with prominent taillights and makes a very pleasing contemoporary statement…I thought it looked like a smaller version of the new Cadillac CTS sedan.


The Forenza’s streamlined, contemporary style continues inside the cabin with silver metallic accents on the doors and center console. An attention-getting instrument cluster highlights the handsome dash. Continuing the theme, metallic silver accents surround the analog gauges, with the boldest reserved for the center-mounted speedometer. After dark, the instrument panel enhances visibility with a backlit jade-green glow.

Forenza passengers enjoy ample space by all measures, but legroom is particularly generous. Rear seat legroom (36.7 in.) and shoulder room (53.7 in.) tops Civic, Corolla and others. Forenza drivers can get comfortable for long-distance motoring with a tilt-adjustable steering wheel and an eight-way adjustable bucket seat. The split-folding rear seats reveal an extra-large trunk pass-through designed for easy loading and increased capacity.

Standard features:

The 2004 Forenza comes in three trim levels: S, LX and EX. Each share a long list of standard features including a great sounding in-dash AM/FM CD and cassette player with eight speakers, including dash- and door-mounted tweeters and steering wheel-mounted sound-system controls, air conditioning with a micron-air filtration system that filters out dust, dirt and pollen to help keep cabin air fresh (Civic charge extra for air conditioning); power windows, door locks and mirrors; remote fuel door release; additional 12-volt power outlet; tachometer; intermittent wipers; digital clock; floor mats; timed rear-window defroster; and driver and passenger sun visors with vanity mirrors. Heated right and left outside rearview mirrors help increase visibility on frosty mornings.

Move up to the Forenza LX, and the equipment list expands to include leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a remote keyless entry system that integrates the key and fob into one convenient unit and activates an anti-theft device. The LX also adds aluminum alloy wheels, front fog lights, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof and cruise control.

The top-of-the-line Forenza EX ( which we tested) adds leather-seating surfaces -- whereas most Forenza competitors don't even offer leather seating as an option. An anti-lock braking system is available as an option on all Forenza trim levels.


Here are the details of the program direct from Suzuki.

All Suzuki vehicles have a 100,000-mile/7-year powertrain limited warranty that's fully transferable to succeeding owners and free of deductibles for covered items. This is in addition to the 36,000-mile/3-year new-vehicle limited warranty. This powertrain warranty covers the engine, transaxle, transmission, front and/or rear drive system and transfer case (when so equipped). Although others offer longer powertrain warranties that may seem to challenge Suzuki's, the competitors' aren't fully transferable. The Suzuki powertrain limited warranty is designed to boost resale or trade-in value and underscores the corporation's confidence in its product quality.

Other components of Suzuki's Open Road Promise include an extensive three-year Roadside Assistance program and a Warranty Repair Courtesy Vehicle program. The Roadside Assistance program covers any new Suzuki vehicle during the 36,000-mile/3-year new-vehicle limited warranty period. Available services include tire changes, jump-starts, lockout service, mechanical first aid, and towing to the nearest Suzuki dealer or authorized service center. If a Suzuki dealer has to keep a vehicle overnight for certain repairs during the new-vehicle limited warranty period, the owner will be provided with a free rental car. The program is operated in partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Since the beginning of the Open Road Promise last year, the program has notably boosted Suzuki's customer satisfaction ratings.”

Forenza Full Line Specs:

Overall length (in) 177.2177.2177.2
Overall width (in) 67.967.967.9
Overall height (in) 56.956.956.9
Wheelbase (in) 102.4102.4102.4
Track front/rear (in) 58.3/58.358.3/58.358.3/58.3
Headroom, front/middle/rear (in) 39.1/37.839.1/37.839.1/37.8
Legroom (with seats in rearmost position), front/rear (in) 42.0/36.742.0/36.742.0/36.7
Shoulder room, front/rear (in) 54.7/53.754.7/53.754.7/53.7
Hip room, front/rear (in) 52.7/53.952.7/53.952.7/53.9
Seating 555
Interior volume (cu ft) 107.5107.5107.5
SAE cargo index
Luggage capacity (cu ft)
Fuel capacity (gal) 14.514.514.5
Manual (lb) 27012701-
Automatic (lb) 275627562756
Manual, city/highway (mpg) 24/3124/31-
Automatic, city/highway (mpg) 22/3022/3022/30