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2007 Suzuki SX4

An Econobox With Traction!

     Visually the Suzuki SX4 registers exactly nil on the coveted Muxlow fun-o-meter. It looks about as enticing as an emergency escape capsule from a space ship, and I don’t desire to pilot one of those either. But this little orange pumpkin was my charge for the week and I gave it all the tender loving care and affection I show all my cars. Well…sorta.
     It’s orange. The front is droopy, the headlights are oversized. The proportions are all wrong. The rear end…well…there is no rear end. The thing is, this car, by all rights and reservations should not even catch my attention. There is nothing that says to me “I want to drive that!” And yet, it got that second glance because it is so oddly proportioned. It’s like a late 90’s Corolla grew a big nose and got its rear end lopped off. Sorry, but this just isn’t the stuff automotive dreams are made of.
     Fortunately for Suzuki the interior isn’t as objectionable as the exterior. Sure, the seating position is very upright, but looking around it is hard to tell you’re not in a typical subcompact sedan. The instrument panel had a somewhat squishy material skin. The HVAC and radio stack was finished with some decent looking metallic inlays. The controls for such actually look to be designed for the vehicle, not just some off the shelf drop in units and the instrument cluster was clear, informative and not overly boring. The A-pillar windows are useful only when looking out across the vehicle, when viewed from the driver’s seat, the driver’s side just looks like a massive A-pillar.
     Weird cars end up in weird places. Believe it or not, the Suzuki has all-wheel drive, so I drove it through a mud puddle. Actually, it is a 3-mode system suggesting more of a true four-wheel drive setup. However, it lacks a low range, having only 2wd, Awd and Awd-lock settings. But in a car like this, one has to wonder what the point is. Just leave it in Awd. The tires are so small and puny that you shouldn’t be going anywhere where you would actually need any beefier of a drive system anyways. To some it all up, this little orange pumpkin is as fond of dirt under the fingernails as I am of tofu.
     About the same can be said for acceleration. We weren’t surprised when we strapped on the testing gear. Allow me to set the stage. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter DOHC Inline-4. Not bad, after all Mazda produces a remarkable 2.0-liter I4 for its astounding MX-5. But, and here is the kicker, Mazda didn’t produce this engine. Nope, the best this Suzuki can muster is 143 hp at a wheezy 5,800 rpm with a complimentary 136 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. In comparison, the Suzuki weighs nearly 483 pounds more than the snappy Mazda and has a 27 hp deficit. And that power has to be channeled through an automatic gearbox, and an all-wheel drive transfer case. In the end it wasn’t surprising that reaching 60 mph took ten seconds, or that the quarter mile went by in a lethargic 17.4 seconds at 80.6 mph. Sending the speedometer needle back south however only took 127 feet from 60 mph. Not bad, that is until I glanced at my vehicle spec spreadsheet and noted that the Cadillac SRX accomplished the same 127 feet with an additional 1,570 lbs. I did notice that the Suzuki has a leg up on another vehicle we tested, and that was the power-to-weight ratio comparison of the Chevrolet Aveo, 20.9 pounds-per-hp vs. 24.6. (Not sure that is worth boasting Muxlow – Ed.)
     Conclusion: this is the “SUV” for those who really don’t want one or hate SUVs with a passion, but realize they need some sort of capability for climbing that steeply sloped and icy driveway in the winter or carrying tall passengers. Oh, and they shouldn’t be in a hurry about getting anywhere. Period. The 100,000 mile or seven year warranty is good though, as is the decent 24/30 EPA rated mpg. Some will find the $15,999 to be money well spent. I’ll pass.

The Good:
The styling is unique, interior materials are decent for the money, awesome warranty.
The Bad:
Not sure what the designer was thinking, nor the powertrain department.
The Verdict:
Ugly car with a good warranty and plenty of headroom.
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