2011 Suzuki SX4 First Look

Off the Beaten Path

2011 Suzuki SX4 Front Three Quarters

With Americans facing ever higher fuel costs, more and more new car buyers are "downsizing" to more fuel-efficient, smaller cars, and automakers are adjusting. Many of today's compact cars are just as feature-rich as their larger brethren.

There are plenty of well-established names in the segment including Corolla, Civic, and Sentra, and Ford's Focus, the all-new Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra make it a crowded field with many solid choices. The Suzuki SX4 sedan and five-door hatch are yet another option that are worth a look when shopping for a compact. This review concerns the sedan.

The Suzuki SX4 sedan is offered in two models: LE and Sport. The LE is further broken down in three trims: Base, LE, and the newly introduced Anniversary Edition. The SX4 Sport sedan is offered in S, SE, and GTS trims. According to Suzuki, the SX4 sedan is aimed at consumers seeking a car that offers quality, plenty of comfort, and excellent driving capability without the high price tag. Design-wise, form follows function with both models, whose more boxy design (compared to other vehicles in the segment) and high roofline offer plenty of headroom both in the front and second rows all the while providing an expansive view of the road for the driver.

The Suzuki SX4 sedan is front-drive only. Both the Suzuki SX4 sedan base and Sport models continued to be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. While the six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base, LE, and S trims, most buyers will likely favor the Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT. According to the EPA, the Suzuki SX4 sedan gets an estimated 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with manual transmission. The SX4 sedan with CVT gets an estimated 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Both models use regular unleaded fuel, but those numbers are beginning to lag behind the competition, many of whom offer 40 mpg highway.

Some Americans feel compacts are inherently less safe in accidents due to their smaller size. Suzuki counters that perception with design and technology. The SX4 sedan's frame has been designed with crumple zones that channel away impacts on the car away from the driver and passengers. Eight airbags are now standard in the SX4 sedan, which include driver and front passenger advanced frontal airbags; front seat-mounted side-impact airbags; and side-curtain airbags. For 2011, rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags have been added for even more safety. The SX4 Sport sedan also comes with standard four-wheel disc brakes coupled to an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) system. Daytime running lights, which help other drivers see the SX4, are standard on both models, while standard tire pressure monitoring system minimizes tire wear which can lead to accidents. As in all Suzuki vehicles, the SX4 sedan is backed by a 100,000-mile, seven-year powertrain limited warranty.

Suzuki made sure the already airy interior came equipped with a plethora of features to entertain both the driver and passengers while on the road. First, all models are equipped with power door locks and windows, unusual in this segment. Same with the standard rear window defroster and, especially, power side mirrors. A four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system is available on all but the bare bones model, which is located on the easy-to-use center stack. Note the system is MP3 and satellite radio compatible. The SX4 Sport sedan offers automatic A/C and seven-speakers and also offers an available Garmin GPS / navigation unit, one of the few available in this price range. Other features offered on the SX4 Sport sedan include aero body kit, fog lights, leather steering wheel, cruise control, paddle shifters, remote keyless entry, and 17-inch alloy wheels. (The wheels are also available on the Anniversary edition.) Bluetooth is optional on the SX4 Sport sedan. The Anniversary Edition.

Priced south of $14,000 to start, the 2011 Suzuki SX4 offers a decent bang for the buck, and could be just the ticket for a compact buyer looking for a more affordable alternative.

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