Over the last two decades, we’ve seen Suzuki transform itself and its automotive operations from a builder of entry-level last resort, to a full-line provider of high-value cars and SUVs. That progress continues for 2007, with its new SX4 Crossover Utility. This diminutive 5-door is the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in America. But a low bottom line is only where the appeal of the SX4 starts.
High value with a low price is a combination familiar to Suzuki buyers. But the Japanese-built 2007 SX4 Crossover Utility hopes to expand that buyer pool by adding more affordable all-wheel-drive and youthful style to the recipe.
Replacing the huskier Aerio, the tall SX4 cuts a cute almost triangular profile with black lower trim connecting the wheel wells and rocker panels. Details say both sport and utility, with a Grand Vitara-like grille, rear Euro-style wraparound glass, and bright simulated brush guards.
The SX4’s chassis is actually an evolution of the Japanese-market front-drive Suzuki Swift subcompact that’s been tuned and strengthened for CUV duties. In its American 5-door form, the platform comes standard with Suzuki’s newest intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
Its three modes are controlled by a center-console switch. They are front-wheel-drive for best fuel economy, all-wheel-drive Auto which automatically distributes up to 50-percent of engine torque to the rear wheels as needed, or all-wheel-drive Lock which distributes 30-to-50-percent of the power to the rear wheels for snow or mud, and only works below 36 miles-per-hour.
Sport trim adds more traction assist from an electronic stability program and traction control. All are driven by the same 2.0-liter dual-cam 4-cylinder that powered the Aerio, here with 143 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque.
Transmissions are our test car’s standard 5-speed manual, or an optional 4-speed automatic. They deliver government fuel economy ratings of 23 city/28 highway for the manual, and 24 city/30 highway for the automatic. We averaged 27 miles-per-gallon on regular gas, quite respectable for any vehicle with all-wheel drive.
We also recorded a 0-to-60 time of 9.1 seconds, and a quarter-mile of 16.8 seconds at 83 miles-per-hour. Not a rocket, but extremely competent for a subcompact car. When launched in all-wheel-drive Auto, the SX4 hooks up immediately, putting all of its modest power to the pavement.
The slow-spinning 4-cylinder is a little on the buzzy side when pushed hard, but the shifter is tight and the clutch is progressive, so nothing is wasted and it feels downright sporty.
The fun quotient grew higher when we turned a corner. The strut front and rear-torsion-beam suspension is well tuned for twisties. And well matched to the 60-Series 16-inch tires on standard alloy wheels with tire pressure monitoring.
The SX4 is an extremely nimble little beast, turning in quickly with only mild front push. It really sticks. The steering is linear and progressive with a nice weight. All in all the SX4 is the best handling all-or-four-wheel-drive Suzuki that we’ve ever tested, and easily stands up to better known rivals. The only notable shortcoming comes on bumpy roads where the squished 98.4-inch wheelbase and firm damping contribute to a very choppy ride.
With the standard all-disc ABS hardware, stops averaged a long 139 feet, and there is a fair bit of nose dive. But the SX4 stays straight and stable, and the pedal had a nice firm feel.
After such a fine driving experience, a decent interior would be a bonus. And while the SX4’s cabin is stark, it’s more than spacious and well equipped. Standard features like tachometer, power windows, locks, and mirrors, plus air conditioning are plentiful. And, Suzuki’s fit-and-finish is better than ever.
Safety features include front side-impact airbags, and two-row head-curtain airbags. The seats are a little on the short and firm side, but the front cabin offers plenty of head and leg room.
Standard audio is a satellite-ready CD/MP3 system. A 6-disc changer is added with Sport trim. While there is no auxiliary input jack, dealers can provide an iPod interface accessory.
The rear seat offers good head but tight leg room. The seats split 60/40, flipping and folding for cargo space that maxes out at 54.3 cubic feet. With the rear seat up, it’s a very usable 16.2 cubic feet.
SX4 prices start at $15,594 for the manual transmission, and $16,594 for the automatic. That’s at least a couple of thousand dollars less than any other all-wheel-drive vehicle. Suzuki’s 100,000 mile/7-year powertrain warranty just makes the SX4 even more of a bargain.
In fact, the nimble, versatile, and fun to drive 2007 Suzuki SX4 is more than just an impressive value. It’s simply impressive!
Engine: 2.0-Liter Dual-cam 4-Cylinder
Torque: 136 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 83 MPH
EPA: 23 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 27 MPG