It's not your typical flagship, but the Kizashi, which was brand-new for 2010, comfortably fits that role for Suzuki, and it successfully erases bad memories of the mid-size Suzukis that preceded it. Along with the SX4 family, the Kizashi gives Suzuki a solid -- if small -- lineup of refreshingly fun-to-drive cars to accompany its rugged off-road vehicles and rocketlike motorcycles. The Kizashi was originally slated to receive V-6 and hybrid powertrains from business partner GM, but that deal fell through and Suzuki entered a corporate marriage with Volkswagen to provide turbocharged and hybrid engines for the Kizashi. It looks like the VW partnership is over, too, however, so the model will likely soldier on indefinitely with the current 2.4-liter four-cylinder. That engine is fine, but horsepower and technology junkies probably won't be satisfied with it. Buyers who want all-wheel drive, power seats, or a sunroof must forgo the slick, standard six-speed manual in favor of the CVT. Four trim levels run the gamut from the well-equipped, under-$20,000 S model to the Sport SLS flagship, which can be filled with leather, navigation, and a powerful audio system that will stream tunes from your iPod via a Bluetooth connection. The Sport prefix on GTS and SLS models means the cars include a spoiler, eighteen-inch wheels, a body kit, and other appearance upgrades. The Kizashi is the pride of Suzuki's car lineup, and the company has been promoting it quite heavily, so keep an eye out for sales promotions to sweeten the deal even more.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: S, SE, Sport GTS, Sport SLS
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engine: 2.4L I-4, 180/185 hp, 170 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, continuously variable
Passenger volume: 92.1 cu ft
Cargo space: 13.3 cu ft
The SE trim level is now available with an option package that bundles leather seats, a power passenger seat, and heated front seats. Sadly, a manual transmission is no longer available with a sunroof and a power driver's seat, options that previously were offered on the Sport GTS. Meanwhile, the S and SE models get a new exterior color -- pearl red.
Dual-stage front, front and rear side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and tire-pressure monitors are standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 20-23 mpg city/29-31 mpg highway
- Truly fun to drive
- Available all-wheel drive
- 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty
You Won't Like
- Derivative styling
- Can get expensive
An exceptional sleeper.
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