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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 SUZUKI SX4 REVIEW


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2010 Suzuki SX4

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Buyers Guide


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE SX4 VEHICLE
If a Mini Cooper isn’t tough enough for your weekend getaways and a Subaru is just too large for city parking, you might want to consider the very practical and capable 2010 Suzuki SX4. The sporty 5-door micro-hatchback is commendable for many features – the best being an affordable AWD that gets 26-mpg.

I drove a the new 2010 Suzuki SX4 street-smart SportBack trim with the all-new 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine with 140 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. My ride came with the six-speed manual transmission, but I have tested the performance-tuned Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for automatic with a console-mounted gear selector and accompanying paddle shifters built into the steering wheel on the 2009 SX4 Crossover model here at The Auto Channel.

The SX4 exists for those who think the trendier compact rides like the Mini or Golf do not offer enough value and performance for your money. The street-tuned SportBack is priced at $17,494 with the outdoor or AWD Crossover at $15,849 model is the outdoor performer with AWD. Aside of these hatchback shapes, a base SX4 Sedan runs you only $13,359.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: There is more space than meets the eye in an SX4: It is big enough to fit two large dogs, two humans and a day’s worth of outdoor gear. I really enjoyed how accessible the rear cargo area was from the second row seats and the additional storage on the removable hardtop tonneau cover. My SportBack test ride had a generous list of standard features for the price, including a keyless start and an audio system with iPod playability through steering wheel controls. But the best feature for the entire SX4 lineup is that the car comes equipped with a portable Garmin Nuvi 760, conveniently docked in a hidden center dashboard compartment.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Suzuki offers one of the best warranties on the lot by offering a 7-year/100,000-mile with a zero-deductable powertrain agreement. The SX4 offers newly standard ESP with traction control; six airbags; daytime running lights; four-wheel disc brakes; anti-lock braking system; electronic brake-force distribution; tire pressure monitoring system; front and rear crumple zones; three-point front seatbelts; and LATCH system.

Cost Issues: Your really cannot beat the price and performance features for the SX4. The Crossover version with AWD costs $15,849 and the street-tuned SportBack is $17,494. The price includes that Garmin Nuvi 760, plus many other nicer features like keyless start and a rear spoiler.

Activity & Performance Ability: It won’t take long to feel comfortable behind the wheel of a SX4. The windshield offers a generous view and the center console is not bogged down with a bunch of buttons. I found this ride a great performer at the old engine pushing 143 ponies – now at 150 horsepower the SX4 displays even more car-passing capability. The 5-speed CVT automatic transmission doesn’t appear to slow throttle response, and you can certainly optimize the gear ratios by switching to paddle shifters and working the vehicle like a manual.

The Green Concern: The SX4 SportBack has a fuel economy of 22-city/30-highway driving for 26-mpg average – a lot of cars in the compact segment are getting 28-mpg. But the Crossover AWD gets 23-city/29-highway driving for an average of 26-mpg. For AWD, that’s excellent.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Suzuki SX4 is an excellently priced compact car available with AWD or in an all-new street-tuned trim. If you can get past VW’s German appeal on the GTI or Golf and the trendiness of a Mini Cooper, you’re in for an affordable ride on both the price and fuel consumption fronts that delivers performance above all else.

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Buyers Guide

©2010 Katrina Ramser