June 20, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Friday, 04 June 2010 09:33
Remember the Suzuki Verona? Forenza? How about the Esteem? Dig deep now … the Sprint? Probably not. These small to midsize sedans and hatchbacks barely made a dent in the U.S. market and are no longer being sold alongside Suzuki’s survivors, including the Grand Vitara, XL-7 and SX-4.
But the honchos at Suzuki seemingly want to be known for more than fast motorcycles, rugged, inexpensive SUVs, and failed compact and subcompact cars.
And if they ever had a shot, the Kizashi, new for 2010, is it.The Kizashi, Japanese for “omen,” is a midsize four-door sedan that whips every Suzuki sedan and hatchback that came before, in every category except price and fuel economy. It is trying to shoulder its way into a market segment crowded with very good cars, from the American-made Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion, to the Japanese-built Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, to South Korea’s Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. There’s not a clunker in the group.
What sets the Kizashi apart? Well, nobody took pictures of it as we tooled down the highway (as happened recently when he had a new Chevrolet Corvette), but lots of people stared at it, apparently wondering what it was. Maybe it’s the name. Suzuki has stuck with English- or Italian-sounding model names since the last Samurai arrived on these shores in the late 1980s.
The Kizashi is nicely proportioned, though few would call its styling daring. Inside, it’s not the roomiest of the group, though rear head room is better than some. The trunk has a comparatively wide opening and low sill to go with 13.3 cubic feet of capacity.
There are nice touches galore, including a ceiling-mounted sunglasses holder, split-folding rear seats, trunk pass-through and leather-wrapped steering wheel. As is Suzuki’s practice, the test car, a $21,754 SE model, was loaded with standard features and just two inexpensive options, floor mats and premium metallic paint. Among the standard features were continuously variable transmission, performance-tuned suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, remote keyless entry with keyless start, and 10-way power driver’s seat.
Rated at 23 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, our Kizashi averaged a little better than 26.
Standard safety features include tire-pressure monitoring, electronic stability program, traction control and anti-lock brakes. In government crash tests, it scored five stars across the board except for rollover (four stars).
Built in Japan, the Kizashi is available with a continuously variable transmission or 5-speed standard shifter, and with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The only engine offered is a 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower Four.
What will surprise people with preconceptions about Suzukis are the high-quality interior materials and the overall refinement. Right out of the box, it’s a player in its market segment. Its only serious drawbacks are the small dealer network and Suzuki’s history of quietly slipping into and out of the sedan and hatchback sectors.
Of course, none of those cars held a candle to the Kizashi.
Engine: 2.4-liter Four, 180 horsepower, 170 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Continuously variable 6-speed automatic
Weight: 3,329 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 17-inch aluminum alloy
Tires: P215/55R17 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 13.3 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular unleaded
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