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2012 Suzuki Kizashi A Well Kept Secret - Review By Larry Nutson

2012 Suzuki Kizashi
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2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki Specs, Comparisons and Pictures - Suzuki Buyers Guide

2012 Suzuki Kizashi
A Well Kept Secret

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Suzuki had its beginnings in Japan back in the 1920s as the Suzuki Loom Works producing textile weaving looms. In 1953 they ventured into transportation with a motorized bicycle called the “Power Free” and in 1955 built their first mass-produced car, the Suzulight.

Suzuki’s arrival in the United States came in 1963 when it started to sell its innovative motorcycle line. Adding outboard motors in 1977 and ATV’s in 1983, 1985 saw the introduction of the GSX-R Suzuki sportbikes and its first car, the Samurai.

Fast-forward to the 2000s and we see the rapid growth of Suzuki in the U.S. And in 2010 Suzuki introduced the Kizashi. “A mid-size 4-door sedan designed, prototyped, tested, and refined for the enthusiast driver combining the excitement and balanced handling of a European Sports Sedan with the quality, craftsmanship and advanced engineering of a modern Japanese sedan” according to Suzuki.

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The 5-passenger Kizashi is equipped with a 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine. With an oversquare bore/stroke ratio and 10:1 compression, the Suzuki powerplant delivers 185 horsepower (@ 6,500 rpm) and 170 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm) with the manual transmission. When mated to the performance-tuned Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the otherwise identical powerplant delivers 180 HP (@ 6,000 rpm).

The Kizashi is available in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and in S, SE, Sport GTS and Sport SLS trim levels. Manual trans is only with f-w-d. The Kizashi and Kizashi Sport receive minimal changes for the new model year. While the S trim receives no new equipment, the SE trim level is enhanced with an available leather option package adding power leather seats, (both driver and front passenger) and heated front seats. Both S and SE models also will offer the new Crimson Red Metallic exterior color.

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Suzuki has repackaged the Kizashi Sport GTS with manual transmission, eliminating the sunroof and power driver’s seat options for increased performance and enhanced value; however, the Kizashi Sport GTS with automatic transmission remains unchanged for 2012. In addition, the top-tier Kizashi Sport SLS will now offer navigation as a standard feature, while XM Satellite Radio will be dropped as a factory option and made available as a dealer-installed accessory.

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Along with cabin proportions that reward Kizashi drivers and passengers with comfort and roominess, Suzuki provides a contemporary, upscale interior feel (including standard sport seats) in line with the vehicle’s on-road performance characteristics. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate Kizashi’s sporty, elegant and informative instrument panel, while consumers seeking a luxury sedan will be pleased with the vehicle’s available leather seating and premium quality materials rivaling those of upscale competitors. The Kizashi also offers extensive sound insulation to help suppress road, tire and wind noise.

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The 2012 Kizashi has a long list of standard safety equipment including class-exclusive standard eight airbags; electronic stability program; an anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution; and a tire pressure monitoring system. Additionally, the 2012 Kizashi and Kizashi Sport meet the new, higher-speed front crash standards that take effect in 2012, as well as the rigorous side barrier and side-pole crash standards that will take effect in 2014. Better visibility is achieved with standard projector beam headlights, supplemental side-mounted signal lights, fold-down rear headrests, available rear sonar and the newly-introduced backup camera. Further enhancing driver confidence, the Kizashi also offers a reinforced rigid chassis for added stability and control.

EPA Fuel Economy Estimates vary with the wheel sizes relating to the different trim levels:
21/31 manual FWD with 16-inch wheels
20/29 manual FWD with 18-inch wheels
23/31 CVT FWD with 16-inch wheels
23/30 CVT FWD with 18-inch wheels
23/30 CVT AWD with 16-inch wheels
22/29 CVT AWD with 18-inch wheels

The Kizashi was recognized as the highest ranked vehicle among midsize cars in the JD Power & Associates’ APEAL study as well as the top sedan in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards for the second consecutive year, and received a Best Buy designation from Consumers Digest.

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The front-drive S model is priced at $18,999 and with all-wheel-drive at $22,349. I spent a week with a 6-speed manual transmission Sport GTS priced at $22,249. I appreciated the relatively compact outside package that made for easy maneuvering and parking in Chicago’s city traffic. But don’t be fooled. This compact outside hides a roomy and quite comfortable interior. The manual trans drive train is very responsive and handling is crisp and confident. Suzuki says 0 to 60 mph time is a respectable 7.4 sec. I hope to soon drive an A-W-D model that only comes with the CVT. I’ll hold judgment on that transmission ‘til then. Trunk space is adequate at 13.3 cu ft. And, with its 16.6 gallon fuel tank, over 500 miles of cruising should easily be attainable.

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi and Kizashi Sport are backed by a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty along with a 36,000mile/3-year limited warranty including roadside assistance. The Kizashi is marketed in the United States through a network of approximately 250 automotive dealerships.

If you’re in the market for a sporty mid-size sedan and don’t want to see yourself coming and going, give the Kizashi a good look.

© Larry Nutson