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2010 Suzuki SX4 SportBack Review


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2010 Suzuki SX4

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Buyers Guide

THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2010 Suzuki SX4 SportBack
Engine: 2.0-literf 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: 162.8 x 69.1 x 62.2 in.
Tires: P205/50R17
Cargo volume: 15.5/43 cu. ft. (rear seat backs up/down)
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/19.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal.
Curb weight: 2,723 lbs.
Sticker: $18,513 ($524 in options, no destination charge)

The Bottom Line: The SX4 SportBack is a small boxy “crossover” with a buzzy engine that does little to enhance Suzuki’s improving reputation.

Suzuki earned its reputation and early success through the manufacture of small economical vehicles. These weren’t always the best or most luxurious, but they were economical, verging on the “cheap” end of economical.

In recent years, however, Suzuki has begun development of more substantial vehicles and has shown that they can put together fine automobiles with a semblance of luxury. The Grand Vitara SUV and Kizashi sedan are good examples of these.

The SX4, however, is a return to Suzuki’s roots. It’s a small crossover SUV, but it’s more of a small hatchback, even though it has the standard SUV hatchback tailgate. And while one might make comparisons with the unfortunate Samurai SUV, the SX4 is a class above that vehicle.

But it seems that in the effort to make an inexpensive vehicle, Suzuki forgot some of its own rules. For example, the short wheelbase makes for a choppy ride. The small engine is buzzy most of the time. On Interstates and in cruise mode, the engine isn’t that bad. On Interstates I found myself intimidated by big rigs.

And I wasn’t that impressed by the economy. The EPA numbers are lower than one might expect from a light car (2,723 pounds) with a four-banger. Even with generally local driving, I was only able to achieve 19.2 mpg in my test. Even my wife’s Buick does better than that.

The SX4 has a 6-speed manual transmission that wasn’t that precise. There were times when I hit the wrong gear. Again, I’m not super slick shifter, but the transmission could have been better, too.

Styling of the SX4 isn’t that bad. It is small, but there’s a unique use of triangular glass panels that are used as fixed wing windows, allowing the driver to see what might be hidden if they weren’t there. In fact, I don’t remember actually using these windows, but it was comforting to have them there. There’s also a small roof spoiler. It can’t be there for high-speed stability, so it must be there to keep dirt off the rear window. It doesn’t work.

I did appreciate the extensions to the sun visors, something you don’t find on many cars costing twice what you pay for the SX4.

The front seats are comfortable with some side support. There’s an interesting pattern to the fabric that wasn’t bad. I was impressed by the amount of legroom available in the rear. One would expect that a small car like this would have crampy rear seating, but this isn’t the case.

The rear seat backs fold flat to improve cargo capacity threefold. The smallish base trunk (15.5 cubic feet) grows to 43 cubic feet with the seat backs folded. Of course, this cuts passenger capacity, but for two people who might want to get away for the weekend (or longer) the SX4 can do the job.

With a full complement of instruments and a navigation system, one might expect that the SX4 is fully equipped. Sadly, the navi system is mounted atop the dash. It’s small and hard to rear. It’s also nearly impossible to reach to program and have it lead you to Grandma’s house. It’s a good thing we knew how to get there.

Sadly too, the audio system couldn’t pull in distant FM stations.

After all this SX4 bashing, I’d like to admit that the vehicle is a decent commuter, and with sensible driving the economy can be better. As always, you get what you pay for, in this case a small, relatively economical car.

© 2010 The Auto Page Syndicate