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2007 Suzuki XL7 Review

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2007 Suzuki XL7

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SEE ALSO: Compare Suzuki Models in Suzuki Buyer's Guide™

More Than Just a GM Cousin
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

I’m still getting used to Suzuki being in the mainstream of vehicle production. No longer is it just a company that has evolved from making motorcycles to just producing small, low-content econo-cars. With this medium-sized, 7-passenger crossover SUV called XL7 Suzuki is fully in the fray competing in just about the hottest segment in the industry.

The last XL7 was based off the full-frame, rear-wheel drive Grand Vitara introduced in the early 90s. Redesigned once midstream it was a fine vehicle and probably the least expensive 7-seater in its class. This new for ’07 XL7 is built from the GM Theta architecture, along side the Equinox and Torrent, in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Longer by about 9 inches and embellished with a number of suspension, trim and detail changes it’s not easy to see or feel the GM kinship at first blush.

Suzuki’s XL7 comes in three trim levels: the base XL7 which starts at $22,899, XL7 Luxury beginning at $24,599 and the full-zoot XL7 Limited starting at $27,949. All three come with standard front-wheel drive but for about $1,600 extra the 3-mode all-wheel drive system can be added.

Our test car this week is the Limited 3Row AWD in a pretty shade of Prairie Gold Metallic. The only option listed on the sticker is the $2,200 Platinum Touring Package that consists of the touch screen navigation system, power tilt and slide sunroof and 17-inch chrome wheels. The $300 charge for XM Satellite radio is listed then taken off with the notation, “XM radio credit.” Our test car did not have the service hooked up. Base price on the sticker is listed at $29,549, which includes the all-wheel drive. So the bottom line is $31,749. No charge for destination and handling.

Styling and design are striking. From the front we’re immediately drawn to the large angular headlight lenses that integrate tightly into the curves of the bulging fenders and gently curved hood. A confident, three-bar, horizontal grille backs the large Suzuki stylized “S” and sits atop a blacked-out chin treatment with large air inlet. Upswept lines along the flank lead to a less dramatic rear. The rear pillar reflects the tapered style of the day and the rear is stylish though not unusual. XL7’s stance is broad and poised, not necessarily muscular. It certainly has a more substantial look than Equinox or Torrent.

All XL7s are powered by the same 3.6-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, V6 with 252 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. This is the same high-feature GM engine with sequential fuel injection and variable valve timing that powers some Cadillacs and Buicks, but is built under license by Suzuki in Japan and shipped to the assembly plant in Ontario. The other GM vehicles assembled in that plant have a different V6. The EPA mileage estimates are 18-mpg city and 24 highway. Our mileage this week with two trips into the city (about 80 miles of freeway each way) was 19.8-mpg.

As I took off on my first drive to town the XL7’s acceleration felt a bit tepid considering these reasonable torque and horsepower figures. Once I put the pedal down hard, though, she burst to life. Zero-to-60 time is listed at about 8-seconds flat, which is not bad at all for a 4,000-pound SUV. No one would accuse the XL7 of being a hot rod but she’s plenty quick enough to satisfy all but the most demanding driver.

The noise is another matter. On full acceleration, on rough roads and generally around town we notice a bit more noise than we expected. I think she could use a bit more insulation and sound deadening. The cool dual exhaust even sounds a bit tawdry from inside, and engine noise is noticeable. At usual speeds on good roads the noise is not so bad.

Otherwise inside is impressive. Our test car has nice beige leather that looks and feels like a vehicle of excellent quality but not excess luxury. The dash design, while somewhat conventional, is simple and stylish with enough flourish to set it off from its GM siblings. Wood trim is light in color, pleasant in design and not overdone. Gauges, knobs and controls are clear, simple and off-the-shelf-GM. Ingress and egress are better than most through all four large door openings. The second row seats are quite firm and high. Third row is for little folks or exceptionally flexible ones. We did miss, however, having grab handles serving the front seats.

Cargo capacity, too, is better than most. Behind the third seat we have about 14-cubic-feet of area, floor to ceiling. Put down the third row seat backs and we now have a good 50 cubic feet. Flop up the second row and we can make available about 95-cubic-feet of volume. Not bad at all. We could tote a lot of stuff back there. And, if we fill it all the way up with folks and stuff, we can tie some more of both onto the standard roof rack stabilized with cross bars. Though don’t tie the kids up there or the authorities will be after you. Just tie your drunk buddies to the roof after the ball game and no one will care. Rear seats are fairly easy to operate but not the best system out there.

Handling is pretty good, though we wouldn’t try to do an autocross course with the XL7, and we probably wouldn’t compare slalom times with the BMW X5. Suspension is fully independent with conventional McPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. Anti-sway bars at both ends help civilize the cornering experience. We also have the big-enough 17-inch, 60-series, 225-wide all-season Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts with an efficient tread design.

The XL7 comes with a 100,000-mile, 7-year transferable warranty on the powertrain, 24/7/365 roadside assistance and the promise of a loaner vehicle whenever it’s in for warranty service.

The 2007 Suzuki XL7 fits well into its market segment, and a huge segment it is. If that’s the segment you’re looking at, be sure to take a look at this one.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved