The compact SX4 is the smallest Suzuki car you can buy in America, even though its maker is the top seller of microcars in the world. (The closest thing to a brand-new microcar in our market, by the way, is the Scion iQ.) The SX4 has been around since the 2007 model year, but it’s still a solid product. In 2010, it got a more powerful engine and improved transmissions; the SX4 SportBack model, essentially an SX4 Crossover with the roof rack removed and a body kit, was added that same year. Traditional sedan body styles are part of the SX4 family, too, including the fancier, body-kitted Sport SE. The Crossover HAS a handy four-wheel-drive system; all other models make do with front-wheel drive only. The surprisingly nice interior can be dressed up with options such as Bluetooth, automatic climate control, heated seats, and a Garmin-sourced navigation system, which has been upgraded for 2012. Like Suzuki’s respected motorcycles, the nimble SX4 is fun to drive enthusiastically, and although it’s not as quick as those crotch rockets, the SX4 is much more powerful than most of its rivals, such as the Honda Fit and the Scion xD. Suzuki planned to release a subcompact, the Swift, to slot below the SX4 in the U.S. market, but the company’s recent split from General Motors and tumultuous marriage with Volkswagen mean that the lauded Swift might never reach North American shores. Bummer.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: LE, LE Popular, Sport SE, SportBack, SportBack Technology, Crossover, Crossover Premium, Crossover Technology Value
Body styles: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger
Engine: 2.0L I-4, 148/150 hp, 140 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, continuously variable
Passenger volume: 82.8-88.5 cu ft
Cargo space: (sedan) 15.5 cu ft; (hatchback, rear seats up/down) 16.2/43.1 cu ft
The convoluted lineup has been simplified for 2012. All SX4s now have stability control and four-wheel disc brakes (only the most basic LE models previously lacked these features). A new navigation unit is faster and will accept voice commands. Also, a couple models (the Sport SE and the Crossover Premium) get new wheels.
Dual-stage front, front and rear side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and tire-pressure monitors are standard.
All: 22-23 mpg city/29-33 mpg highway
- More fun to drive than most competitors
- Available all-wheel drive
- Confusing lineup (sedan, hatchback, sporty sedan, sporty hatchback)
Small, fun, versatile….and inexpensive.
- Ford Fiesta
- Honda Fit
- Nissan Versa
- Scion xD