Suzuki – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:28:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Report: Suzuki Kizashi Was a “Headache,” Won’t Be Replaced http://www.automobilemag.com/news/report-suzuki-kizashi-was-a-headache-258045/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/report-suzuki-kizashi-was-a-headache-258045/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:01:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/report-suzuki-kizashi-was-a-headache-258045/ Suzuki regrets introducing the Kizashi and won't develop a replacement.

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Remember the Suzuki Kizashi? Chances are the answer is no, as Suzuki’s midsize sedan never really gained any traction here in the U.S. According to a report from Drive, an Australian publication, Suzuki is unlikely to develop a replacement for the Kizashi given how the current model was considered a flop in most markets.

Suzuki’s Australian managing director Masaaki Kato is quoted in the report as saying that the Suzuki Kizashi was a “headache” and an “unlucky car,” especially considering the huge investment which was made to develop the car. Even after the Kizashi’s debut, Suzuki was reportedly working on other variants, including turbocharged, V-6, and wagon versions, but these plans disappeared after the Kizashi failed to catch on. Kato cited poor timing as a primary reason for the Kizashi’s poor sales globally, as it launched in 2009 shortly before economic crises hit both the U.S. and Europe. Suzuki has since pulled out of the U.S. market entirely, with American Suzuki Motor Corp. filing for bankruptcy in 2012.

Just how bad were Suzuki Kizashi sales on our shores? In 2011, the Suzuki Kizashi’s best year in the U.S., it only sold 6942 units; in fact, from 2009 to 2013, Suzuki only sold slightly more than 20,000 Kizashis total, considerably less than the number of Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords sold every single month.

The sad thing is, we really liked the Suzuki Kizashi. After keeping a 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS AWD for a year-long Four Seasons test, we had plenty of nice things to say about the surprisingly pleasant Kizashi, complementing its high-quality interior, bulletproof reliability, eager four-cylinder engine, and sporty driving dynamics. From our perspective, its main problems were its lack of brand equity and the fact that it was sized awkwardly between the compact and midsize segments.

2011 suzuki kizashi front three quarters in motion 2011 suzuki kizashi front three quarters 2011 suzuki kizashi front 2011 suzuki kizashi interior 1 2011 suzuki kizashi interior 2 2011 suzuki kizashi rear three quarters 2011 suzuki kizashi rear

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Collectible Classic: 1986-1995 Suzuki Samurai http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1986-1995-suzuki-samurai/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1986-1995-suzuki-samurai/#respond Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:15:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1986-1995-suzuki-samurai/ Once maligned but landing on its feet.

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The Suzuki Samurai, a vehicle revered for its off-road ability but ridiculed for its twee proportions and rather third-world driving dynamics, occupies an odd place in automotive culture. To this day, the Samurai retains legions of loyal fans, and yet it is featured in Richard Porter’s Crap Cars, summarized with the line, “It would have been more fun to be attacked by an actual samurai.” What we have here, then, is a controversial machine. And controversial machines can make for compelling collector cars.

Although Suzuki sold more than 200,000 Samurais in the United States, finding a clean one can present a challenge. The Samurai’s glory days are at least two decades behind us, and the years since have generally been unkind to a vehicle that was always regarded as a disposable object of off-road abuse. John Harper, of Charlotte, North Carolina, knew he wanted a Samurai but had a hard time finding one that wasn’t fitted with 33-inch Super Swamper tires and a 1.6-liter Suzuki Sidekick engine. “Then I moved to a new neighborhood, and right around the corner there was a clean Samurai sitting in the driveway,” Harper says. “I went up and knocked on the door and offered to buy it.” After working out a deal, Harper had his hands on what he calls his “apocalypse four-by-four,” a nimble, fuel-efficient off-roader in which to flee whatever disaster may come. (Early in AMC’s hit zombie franchise, The Walking Dead, a Samurai is prominently parked at the human refugee camp.)

1986 1995 Suzuki Samurai front right view 1986 1995 Suzuki Samurai front left view 1986 1995 Suzuki Samurai rear left view 1986 1995 Suzuki Samurai top view 1986 1995 Suzuki Samurai front interior

Harper was obviously not dissuaded by the Samurai’s infamous 1988 run-in with Consumer Reports, which eventually resulted in a legal battle that was not settled until 2004. Samurai owners seem to view Consumer Reports the same way that Corvair owners regard Ralph Nader — at this point, the magazine’s contentious rollover test is part of the legend. And, judging by the number of lifted Samurais scampering about the country’s woodlands, owners aren’t hugely worried about raising the little truck’s center of gravity. But it’s telling that Suzuki’s own brochure for the 1986 Samurai takes a digression from the marketing braggadocio (“Would you like to go to the beach driving an irresistible bikini magnet?”) to warn: “Note that the Samurai has a high ground clearance and narrow track for off-road driving capability. It will not corner at the same speed as a conventional car. So avoid sharp turns and abrupt maneuvers, and always wear your seatbelt.”

I bear this advice in mind as I buckle into Harper’s 1988 Samurai for a jaunt around Charlotte. The first impression is that this is an impossibly tiny vehicle by modern standards — a 2014 Jeep Wrangler is about a foot wider and a foot and a half longer. The turning circle is 33.4 feet. It’s a wieldy truck, but the view out over that stubby hood precludes any illusions that modern safety rules apply. A Ford F-150 blowing a stop sign would boot this thing like Adam Vinatieri teeing up a 50-yard field goal. As with a motorcycle or a Lotus Elise, the scale of the Samurai instills a healthy feeling of vulnerability in modern traffic. You drive alertly.

And, as with a bike or a small sports car, the Sammy’s modest weight and dinky dimensions instill their own brand of fun. Given the specs — 63 hp and leaf-sprung solid axles — I wasn’t expecting much in the way of on-road entertainment. But the Samurai proves yet again that the tactile rewards of driving are not entirely tied to the g-forces produced.

It’s not damning with faint praise to say that the Samurai is far better to drive than I expected. The ride is not bad (at least on smooth pavement), and the unassisted recirculating-ball steering exhibits little of the on-center slack common to larger trucks of the era. The 1.3-liter four-cylinder certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but it feels perky enough around town. The sensation of speed is heightened by your exposure to the elements and the five-speed manual gearbox, which is your ally in keeping the little four-banger in its sweet spot. Perhaps you wouldn’t want to drive 200 miles on the highway, but remember that a 1980s Wrangler wasn’t a paragon of sophistication, either.

The Samurai’s real virtues aren’t revealed until you take it off-road. We pull down into a muddy track paralleling a train yard, and the Suzuki has no problem picking its way around obstacles that have obviously stymied other vehicles — the drop-off from the road, for instance, is so steep that the edge of the pavement bears scars from trucks with less favorable break-over angles. The Samurai drops right in.

You can see why this is a prized rock-crawling vehicle — and why there are so few stock ones left. You can also see why it was a worldwide success, selling in more than 100 countries under various nameplates. After all, how many used cars afford the daily opportunity to pretend that you’re a Malaysian farmer?

Back in the 1980s and ’90s, the Samurai was the nonconformist’s Wrangler. As an offbeat around-town runabout, trail machine, or beach truck, it still is. Harper likes his so much that he bought it twice. “My brother-in-law was so interested in it that I sold it to him with the stipulation that he sell it back to me when he was ready to move on,” Harper says. Eventually, his brother-in-law scratched his Samurai itch and Harper bought the Suzuki — again. This time, he’s keeping it.

The Specs
Engines

1.3L (79 cu in) SOHC I-4, 66 hp, 76 lb-ft (1990-95)
1.3L (81 cu in) SOHC I-4, 63-64 hp, 74 lb-ft (1986-89)
Transmission 5-speed manual
Drive Rear- or 4-wheel
Front suspension Live axle, leaf springs
Rear suspension Live axle, leaf springs
Brakes F/R Discs/drums
Weight 2100 pounds

The Info
U.S. model
Years
1986-1995
U.S. sales 206,419
Original price $8095 (1988)
Value today $3000-$8000
Why Buy?
The Samurai represents an off-road genre that no longer exists: an agile SUV significantly smaller than a modern Jeep Wrangler. Straight-line speed is lacking, but the Sammy’s humble virtues include a 2100-pound curb weight, a manual transmission, manual steering, and a manual convertible top. There’s deep aftermarket support and a variety of clubs for owners. The Samurai also gets decent gas mileage and has a reputation for ruggedness. If you find one that has spent its life as the RV tender for road-tripping retirees, buy it.

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Geneva 2013: Suzuki Facelifts SX4 Crossover http://www.automobilemag.com/news/geneva-2013-suzuki-facelifts-sx4-crossover-208979/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/geneva-2013-suzuki-facelifts-sx4-crossover-208979/#respond Wed, 06 Mar 2013 14:01:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/geneva-2013-suzuki-facelifts-sx4-crossover-208979/ The redesigned Suzuki SX4 Crossover returns in a larger package, and debuts at the Geneva Motor Show.

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The redesigned Suzuki SX4 Crossover returns in a larger package, and debuts at the Geneva Motor Show. While the last SX4 was the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicle in the U.S., the new model won’t be sold in the states now that the Japanese automaker has stopped selling new cars. Suzuki elected to keep the SX4 moniker, which stands for Suzuki Crossover Four-Wheel-Drive, for the new model that offers a new sunroof with a huge opening, thanks to its dual-sliding movement.

The SX4 Crossover fuses the current SX4 SportBack’s square styling with the Suzuki S-Cross concept’s flowing design, while adding unique features such as the world’s first double-sliding panoramic moonroof, which the automaker claims is among the largest opening in the segment. The SX4 Crossover’s new shape with improved aerodynamics and lighter high-strength steel contribute to lower emissions and increased fuel economy. LED running lights integrated into the headlight assembly and a bold grille form the SX4 Crossover’s front end, while a body line below the greenhouse runs down the side from the headlights to the taillights.

The 4.0-inch longer wheelbase is now at 102.4 inches, while the 169.3-inch overall length has grown 6.5 inches. Width is up 0.4 inches (69.5 inches) and height is up 0.2 to 0.4 inches (61.8 to 62.0 inches) depending on whether the car rides on 16- or 17-inch wheels. Larger exterior dimensions improve interior space including the cargo area, which has grown by just over 50 percent.

Motivation comes from a choice of 1.6-liter I-4 engines. Based on the current naturally aspirated gas engine, the base engine features lower friction and lower weight for improved efficiency. The optional turbodiesel uses a variable geometry turbocharger for more torque throughout the powerband. While no power figures have been released for either engine, an engine stop-start system helps save fuel. A five-speed manual backs the gas engine, while the turbodiesel is mated to a six-speed manual. The CVT available on the gas engine features a seven-speed manual mode with paddle shifters. Suzuki’s next generation all-wheel-drive system is available with either engine.

Would you consider the new Suzuki SX4 Crossover if the automaker still offered new cars in the U.S.?

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Suzuki SX4 Crossover right front and left rear 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover rear seat 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover panoramic moonroof 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover left side 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover left rear 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover left front 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover front static 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover front 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover four wheel drive control 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover cockpit 1 Suzuki SX4 Crossover cargo area 1 Suzuki SX4 cockpit Suzuki SX4 front end Suzuki SX4 front three quarters Suzuki SX4 rear interior Suzuki SX4 rear three quarters Suzuki SX4 side

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Recall: Suzuki XL7 for Faulty Fuel Pump Module http://www.automobilemag.com/news/recall-suzuki-xl7-for-faulty-fuel-pump-module-194247/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/recall-suzuki-xl7-for-faulty-fuel-pump-module-194247/#respond Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/recall-suzuki-xl7-for-faulty-fuel-pump-module-194247/ Suzuki is now officially out of the business of selling new cars in the U.S.

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Suzuki is now officially out of the business of selling new cars in the U.S. market, but still has to tend to the business of winding down its operations. One of the less-glamorous sides of the nuts-and-bolts of a car company is dealing with recalls, and unfortunately for the embattled niche Japanese automaker, it’s having to contend with another. 2007 model-year XL7 crossover models sold in certain western states are subject to a recall on the fuel pump module.

The Problem: 2007 model-year Suzuki XL7 crossover models originally sold or registered in Arizona, California, Nevada or Texas may have a faulty plastic fuel pump module in which the fuel return or supply port could develop a crack, resulting in a fuel leak, which could lead to an engine compartment fire.

The Fix: Suzuki will notify owners, and dealers or authorized repair facilities will replace the fuel pump module free of charge. A timeframe for notification has not yet been announced. Owners can contact Suzuki at 714-996-7040, or NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.

Number of Vehicles Potentially Affected: 2830 XL7 models manufactured from June 13, 2006 through December 22, 2006, and originally sold or registered in Arizona, California, Nevada or Texas.

Source: NHTSA

2007 Suzuki XL7 Driving 2007 Suzuki XL7 Front

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IIHS Awards 2013 Honda Accord Sedan, Suzuki Kizashi Top Safety Pick + Status http://www.automobilemag.com/news/iihs-awards-2013-honda-accord-sedan-suzuki-kizashi-top-safety-pick-plus-status-192639/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/iihs-awards-2013-honda-accord-sedan-suzuki-kizashi-top-safety-pick-plus-status-192639/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2012 05:01:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/iihs-awards-2013-honda-accord-sedan-suzuki-kizashi-top-safety-pick-plus-status-192639/ After crash-testing 18 midsize entries, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just two overall “Good” ratings: the four-door 2013 Honda Accord and the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi.

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After crash-testing 18 midsize entries, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just two overall “Good” ratings: the four-door 2013 Honda Accord and the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi. Now that the IIHS’ safety test ratings are more difficult than before, cars like the Nissan Altima, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat, and Toyota Camry fall short of earning top recognition from the organization.

In case you missed that, the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi sedan — built by an automaker that’s soon to leave the U.S. market — has been evaluated above many other more popular midsizers, along with the 2013 Honda Accord sedan. Though the Accord sedan and Kizashi were rated good, they aren’t the only newly tested vehicles to get Top Safety Pick + status. To earn that award (with the “+”), a vehicle must be rated good in four of five tests that include a moderate overlap frontal crash, small overlap frontal crash, side impact, rollover, and seat/head restraint evaluations (for rear impacts) and have a rating of no less than “acceptable” in any test.

Though the Accord sedan may be rated good, the 2013 Accord coupe is in the acceptable category, along with the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima sedan, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 200 sedan, Mazda6 (outgoing 2013 model), and Volkswagen Passat.

So far, the IIHS says 13 tested vehicles qualify for the Top Safety Pick + award: Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 200 sedan, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord sedan and coupe, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima sedan, Subaru Legacy and Outback, Suzuki Kizashi, Volkswagen Passat, Acura TL, and Volvo S60.

While acceptable overall safety ratings from the IIHS may not have too great of an effect on midsize sedan sales, a lower score of “marginal” may. Curiously, while the Kia Optima earned an acceptable rating, the mechanically related Hyundai Sonata falls in the marginal category, along with the Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Jetta sedan.

Perhaps most notable, aside from the Accord’s and Kizashi’s Top Safety Pick + designation, are the two newly evaluated vehicles in the “Poor” category: the Toyota Camry and Toyota Prius V. A poor rating could have an impact on Toyota Camry sales, though the car will without a doubt remain on top of the segment for the 2012 calendar year. For 2013, however, we’d be surprised if Toyota doesn’t announce a quick update to bump the car’s rating to marginal or acceptable status. It’s important to note that both Toyotas are already called Top Safety Picks, but their performance in the IIHS’ new small overlap crash is what’s set them back. In NHTSA safety tests, the 2013 Toyota Camry has a five-star overall rating (out of a maximum five stars).

Conversely, the Suzuki Kizashi has never qualified for the older Top Safety Pick status because its roof strength rating was only acceptable. As the IIHS says, the Kizashi “is the only midsize moderately priced car to earn a good rating for structure in the small overlap test.” With the revised standards for Top Safety Pick +, the car qualifies for the new award but not the older one.

If you were in the market for a new midsize sedan, how closely would you pay attention to IIHS and NHTSA safety test results? Tell us in the comments section below.

Source: IIHS

UPDATE: Toyota has responded to the IIHS test results:

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) periodically develops new, more severe or specialized tests which go beyond federal requirements. With this new test, the Institute has raised the bar again, and we will respond to the challenge. We are evaluating the new test protocols and can say that there will not be one single solution to achieve greater crash performance in this area.

Toyota has 19 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models named 2012 IIHS “Top Safety Picks,” including the Camry and Prius v, more than any other automaker.  We’re also proud of the Camry’s 5 Star Safety rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)*

          *The Prius v has not been rated by the NHTSA at this point.

2013 Honda Accord IIHS during crash 2013 Honda Accord interior during IIHS test 2013 Honda Accord sedan after IIHS crash 2013 Honda Accord sedan IIHS before test 2013 Honda Accord sedan IIHS knee 2013 Suzuki Kizashi after IIHS test 2013 Suzuki Kizashi before IIHS testing 2013 Suzuki Kizashi during IIHS test 2013 Suzuki Kizashi IIHS interior during test 2013 Suzuki Kizashi IIHS knee 2013 Toyota Camry after IIHS crash 2013 Toyota Camry before IIHS test 2013 Toyota Camry during IIHS test 2013 Toyota Camry interior during IIHS test 2013 Toyota Camry knee 2013 Toyota Prius V after IIHS test 2013 Toyota Prius V before IIHS test 2013 Toyota Prius V during IIHS test 2013 Toyota Prius V IIHS during crash 2013 Toyota Prius V knee

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End of the Road: American Suzuki to Stop Sales in U.S., File for Bankruptcy http://www.automobilemag.com/news/end-of-the-road-american-suzuki-to-stop-sales-in-us-file-for-bankruptcy-183167/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/end-of-the-road-american-suzuki-to-stop-sales-in-us-file-for-bankruptcy-183167/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:46:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/end-of-the-road-american-suzuki-to-stop-sales-in-us-file-for-bankruptcy-183167/ If you've been eyeing a Suzuki Kizashi sedan but haven't yet made a move, you may want to act soon: American Suzuki Motor Corp.

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If you’ve been eyeing a Suzuki Kizashi sedan but haven’t yet made a move, you may want to act soon: American Suzuki Motor Corp. is filing for bankruptcy protection, Suzuki has announced.

Many enthusiasts have long lusted after a new U.S.-spec variant of the Suzuki Swift, but it looks like that will remain forbidden automotive fruit. Suzuki plans to wind down U.S. sales of its lineup, which includes a truck, SUV, midsize sedan, and line of SX4 variants. The Suzuki Equator is a rebadged Nissan Frontier truck while the off-road ready Grand Vitara lost its V-6 engine option after Suzuki’s connection with GM ended. The front- and all-wheel-drive SX4 sedan and four-door hatchback variants are decent vehicles in need of upgrades, while we’re fans of the Suzuki Kizashi sports sedan.

Suzuki ambitiously targeted upscale front-drive sports sedans in the Kizashi’s U.S. launch campaign instead of price-based competitors like the Nissan Altima and Mazda6. The automaker’s sales in the U.S. numbered 2023 units in October, five-percent above October 2011 but well below a sustainable level.

Suzuki’s U.S. Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions are unaffected by this announcement, which comes with the company’s assurance that all warranties will continue to be fully honored, with parts and service offered through the existing parts and service dealer network.

 

Here is part of an official statement from Suzuki:

In evaluating its position in the highly regulated and competitive U.S. automotive industry, ASMC determined that its Automotive division was facing a number of serious challenges. These challenges include low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its line-up, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental U.S. and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the U.S. market. While the decision to discontinue new automobile sales in the U.S. was difficult to make, today’s actions were inevitable under these circumstances. ASMC is dedicated to honoring its commitments to Automotive customers through and after the wind down of new automobile sales in the continental U.S.

Source: Reuters

2012 Suzuki Kizashi AWD GTS cockpit 2012 Suzuki Kizashi AWD GTS front end 2012 Suzuki Kizashi AWD GTS rear three quarters 2012 Suzuki SX4 Sedan rear passengers side view 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara front three quarter 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara interior 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara rear three quarter 2013 Suzuki SX4 sedan front three quarter 2012 Suzuki Kizashi AWD GTS taillight 2012 Suzuki SX4 Sportback cockpit 2012 Suzuki SX4 Sportback front three quarter in motion 2012 Suzuki SX4 Sportback side

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Suzuki Will Debut C-Segment S-Cross Crossover Concept at Paris Motor Show http://www.automobilemag.com/news/suzuki-will-debut-c-segment-s-cross-crossover-concept-at-paris-motor-show-162389/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/suzuki-will-debut-c-segment-s-cross-crossover-concept-at-paris-motor-show-162389/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2012 19:01:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/suzuki-will-debut-c-segment-s-cross-crossover-concept-at-paris-motor-show-162389/ It looks like the ranks of compact crossover vehicles will grow one more this year: Suzuki announced it will debut a concept car previewing a c-segment crossover called the S-Cross at the Paris Motor Show in September.

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It looks like the ranks of compact crossover vehicles will grow one more this year: Suzuki announced it will debut a concept car previewing a c-segment crossover called the S-Cross at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Suzuki says that the car brings equal parts “emotion,” “quality,” and “aerodynamics” to the table, and at least the third of those characteristics is evidenced by the swoopy, sleek sketch Suzuki released along with the news. Not surprisingly, the company says it’s looking to “create a cutting-edge crossover.”

The challenge now, however, is figuring out anything else about this Suzuki because we know essentially nothing about it. The design is a clear departure from Suzuki’s current SX4 hatchback/crossover, and looks nothing like the last Suzuki crossover we saw, the XA Alpha Crossover that debuted in New Delhi last year, so it’s probably not a replacement for the former or an evolution of the latter.

If the XA is any indication, the S-Cross will likely ride atop the subcompact Suzuki Swift platform, and potentially use some or all of its three- and four-cylinder engines. Seeing as the Swift probably won’t come to the U.S. any time soon, don’t cross your fingers too hard hoping the S-Cross will land here either.

In any event, the true details will surface closer to–or at–the Paris Motor Show this September.

Source: Suzuki

Suzuki XA Alpha concept rear three quarter 2013 Suzuki S Cross concept teaser front end 2013 Suzuki S Cross concept teaser sketch Suzuki XA Alpha concept front three quarter

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Rental Car Group Launches Two-Hour, Three-Day Used Car Test Drive Program http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rental-car-group-launches-two-hour-three-day-used-car-test-drive-program-149521/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rental-car-group-launches-two-hour-three-day-used-car-test-drive-program-149521/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2012 22:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rental-car-group-launches-two-hour-three-day-used-car-test-drive-program-149521/ Driving a car is just one of many steps in the car buying process.

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Driving a car is just one of many steps in the car buying process. Consumers who like to spend lots of time on this important step will want to check out the Avis and Budget car rental group’s new program dubbed the Ultimate Test Drive.

All cars available for sale can be located on Avis’ and Budget’s site. The cars are located at rental offices where consumers can kick the tires and choose between two test drive programs. The first option is a two-hour drive, which is free of charge regardless of whether you purchase the car. The second choice is a three-day test drive that’s free only if you purchase the car afterwards. Decide against the car and you’re responsible for a “nominal rental fee” (both test drives require filling out rental agreement paperwork).

Regardless, either option should provide ample time to get to know the vehicle as opposed to a typical test drive that usually consists of a trip around the block and a few minutes on the freeway. Two hours should also give you plenty of time to take a car to your local mechanic for a quick inspection.

The purchase transaction is handled through AutoNation Direct, a subsidiary of the national car dealer group AutoNation. All cars are offered with no-haggle pricing, which is good news if you think the $15,155 2011 Suzuki SX4 available in the L.A. area is a good deal.

What do you think about the Ultimate Test Drive program: Will Avis and Budget see quicker sales of off-rental vehicles or be stuck dealing with those out for a two-hour free drive?

Source: Avis

Suzuki SX4 Avis Sale Ultimate Test Drive hopepage

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2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Ultimate Adventure Edition 4WD Navi http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-vitara-ultimate-adventure-edition-4wd-navi/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-vitara-ultimate-adventure-edition-4wd-navi/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2012 18:52:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-vitara-ultimate-adventure-edition-4wd-navi/ On the shrinking list of sport-utes with true off-road chops, the Grand Vitara is near the top.

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On the shrinking list of sport-utes with true off-road chops, the Grand Vitara is at or near the top. It does pretty well on-road too, with decent handling and excellent visibility. It also has a relatively low step-in height for a vehicle that can tackle pretty much anything you throw at it and an acceptable 3000-pound tow rating. It certainly lacks the on-road refinement of road-biased crossovers and comes up short in terms of interior quality and design when compared to those same vehicles, but when looked at next to the Jeep Wrangler and Patriot it stacks up well, with a roomier front seat and less bouncy ride than the Patriot and a much lower price of entry than the Wrangler.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms


2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi front view 2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi left side view 2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi rear left side view 2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi front left view 2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi rear 2012 suzuki grand vitara ultimate adventure edition 4WD navi wheel

Suzuki is clearly struggling in the U.S. market and the drama surrounding the brand’s partnership with Volkswagen isn’t helping. The only Suzuki worth considering on its own merit is the Kizashi, a remarkably well-done sedan that’s relegated to also-ran status because the Suzuki brand is more frequently associated with motorcycles than cars. Every other Suzuki product is more likely to find a buyer because of a low price than because it’s an inherently good vehicle.

There aren’t many positive things to say about the Suzuki Grand Vitara. None of the interior materials are worth noting, though the removable Garmin navigation unit works much better than Chrysler’s integrated Garmin navigation system. Fuel economy is appalling for a vehicle of this size, and the engine and transmission feel and sound ancient. Noise, vibration, and harshness are all in attendance. With a mere 7000 miles on our test vehicle’s odometer, the center console latch rattled badly.

Perhaps a Suzuki dealer will cut you an amazing deal on a Grand Vitara, but first you have to find a Suzuki dealer. If you do make it to a Suzuki dealership, you’d be better off with an AWD Kizashi than this Grand Vitara. Those shopping for an SUV would be much happier looking at a Subaru Forester, which pulls off the bare-bones transportation theme even better, or a Kia Sportage, which offers good looks and lots of equipment at a very competitive price.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor


I grew up in an era where Suzuki – and by proxy, Geo and Chevrolet – was a major player in the compact SUV market here in the United States. Now, the automaker can barely sell them. The 4980 Grand Vitaras sold in 2011 reportedly represents an 11-percent year-to-year increase, but it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to most, if not all, of its competition.

Today’s Grand Vitara seems as if it’s stuck in a different era. While most competitors have made their CUVs increasingly carlike, Suzuki elected to retain some of the off-road ethos that can be traced back for decades, beyond even the Sidekick and Samurai. A neat notion, I suppose, but it’s a bit of a handicap when most buyers are looking for refinement. The ladder-frame structure integrated with the unibody lends considerable strength for towing or off-road pursuits, but it also saddles the Grand Vitara with a stiff, truck-like feel; its ride quality is harsh on good roads and unforgiving on bad. The interior, much like the exterior, is simple and somewhat handsome, but materials are basic and mostly hard plastic, even on higher trim levels. I was somewhat impressed with the thrust offered by the four-cylinder engine, although it gets fairly buzzy when pushed hard.

I had hoped the Ultimate Adventure Edition would be a vehicle specifically equipped for off-road hijinks; perhaps with a manual transmission and an advanced four-wheel-drive system. That’s not the case — in fact, the only way to get four-wheel-drive, a feature this particular tester lacked, is to add the four-speed automatic. Instead, the Ultimate Adventure edition merely gains new wheels, fog lamps, and leather-like waterproof seating surfaces in an unusual indigo-on-slate color scheme. That doesn’t really seem all that adventurous to me.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor


Suzuki’s press materials for the Grand Vitara play up the fact that this is not a gentle crossover, touting the SUV’s integral ladder frame and “surprising off-road performance.” That speaks volumes about the driving experience. Because the Grand Vitara is a very old-school vehicle designed for real off-roading and towing, it’s not particularly good on pavement.

Taking the Grand Vitara on the highway revealed a bouncy ride, very slow acceleration, and disappointing fuel economy (for a vehicle of this size with only 166 hp). I get the appeal of a robust SUV, but the Suzuki seems totally anachronistic in the context of today’s refined and capable small crossovers. Competitors like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 offer much more polished driving dynamics, while still providing a modicum of towing and soft-roading capability — and with significantly better fuel economy. No wonder Suzuki sold only 5000 Grand Vitaras here last year.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor


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On my way to the airport in the Grand Vitara, I listened to a radio program called “Time Warp,” which is very consistent with the feeling one gets when driving this Suzuki. Credit the cheap plastics, antiquated powertrain (four-speed automatic, noisy engine), rough ride quality, and shoddy-feeling HVAC controls. The Grand Vitara was class-competitive — but not class-leading — when it debuted in 2005, but it’s now very dated and has received minimal updates since then.

The new-for-2012 Ultimate Adventure package is the biggest news for this nameplate since it got new engines for the 2009 model year, and that’s pretty sad. The gray wheels look quite nice, though, in my opinion. Like Evan, I was disappointed to learn that a proper four-wheel-drive system with low range is available only on top-of-the-line Limited models. Where’s the adventure in that?

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor


It doesn’t take more than a few minutes in the Grand Vitara to realize that this is a vehicle that hasn’t quite been able to keep up with the times. The four-speed automatic transmission is your first clue — this has to be one of the last vehicles on the U.S. market with an automatic with few than five forward speeds. On the way through the parking garage, the Grand Vitara’s rear end hops over the speed bumps, which gives you early notice of the jouncy ride you’ll feel when you drive at higher speeds. Even the blinker sounds old-fashioned, with a metronomic click-click that harks back to cars of the ’70s and ’80s.

On the plus said, there’s a full-size spare available, although it’s carried on the rear door underneath a hard wheel cover (another throwback). The rear door itself swings open sideways and opens up to a decent size cargo area. The interior itself isn’t stellar, but the leather feels OK and has a nice three-tone design to it. The center stack is not very stylized but is functional, and there’s decent room in the rear seat.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Ultimate Adventure Edition 4WD Navi

MSRP (with destination): $24,744
PRICE AS TESTED:$25,364

ENGINE:
2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 166 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION:
4-speed automatic

DRIVE:
All-wheel

WHEELS AND TIRES:
18-inch aluminum wheels
225/60HR-18 Dunlop AT20 GrandTrek tires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
19/23/20 mpg

CURB WEIGHT:
3479 lb

CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 12.5 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 41.3/37.2 in
Headroom (front/rear): 40.0/38.2 in
Towing: N/A

EXTERIOR/INTERIOR COLOR:
Quicksilver/Black

STANDARD FEATURES:
Fully independent suspension,
4-wheel disc brakes
Stability and traction control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Power windows, locks, and exterior mirrors
Cruise control
Keyless entry
Voice-activated navigation w/traffic and weather information
Automatic climate control
Auxiliary audio jack
Height-adjustable driver’s seat
Water-resistant two-tone seats
Heated front seats
18-inch “smoked” aluminum wheels
Fog lights
Exterior-mirror turn signals

OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Premium metallic paint- $130
Bluetooth- $250
First aid kit and cargo mat- $115
All-weather floor mats- $125

KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Running board set- $555
Overfenders- $430
SiriusXM satellite radio- $400
Cross bars- $200

ADDITIONAL SPECS:
The Ultimate Adventure Edition is a new model for 2012.

COMPARE TO:
Jeep Liberty, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander

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2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport GTS AWD http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-kizashi-sport-gts-awd/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-kizashi-sport-gts-awd/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2012 19:07:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2012-suzuki-kizashi-sport-gts-awd/ It's unfortunate that the majority of U.S. consumers have no idea that the Kizashi even exists.

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It’s unfortunate that the majority of U.S. consumers have no idea that the Kizashi even exists. Its chassis and steering are as good as or better than anything in its class. Its exterior styling is a bit derivative but it’s still quite handsome. Inside, the quality, style, comfort, and user-friendliness are easily on par with the Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Sonata. Like our Four Seasons Kizashi, this Sport GTS model is equipped with all-wheel-drive and as such, can only be had with the continuously variable transmission. The CVT is a bit of a drag, literally, as it makes for fairly sluggish low-end acceleration and does nothing to further this car’s Sport moniker. If I were building my own Kizashi, I’d likely choose the Sport for its slightly stiffer suspension and lower ride height, skip the CVT and the AWD, and go with the manual transmission. Shifting for yourself is the only way to fully appreciate the Kizashi’s excellent chassis, and Suzuki’s 5-speed box is light, smooth, and a pleasure to use.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms


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It was but a few moments into my drive of the Suzuki Kizashi when the thought popped into my head. Is that…steering feel?

Driving much of the Kizashi’s competition is like using those record-scratcher music applications on the iPhone or iPad: it may achieve the same result as pushing and pulling a record on a turntable, but it feels nothing like the actual experience. The Kizashi’s wheel is different, though.

The steering is delightful — it’s well weighted, precise, direct — and it actually communicates with the driver rather than turning input into a stream of ones and zeros. In a world where steering often feels digital and removed, it’s refreshing and different. The same can be said for the engine, the transmission, the stereo, and the looks.

Kizashi sales amounted to little more than a rounding error in the mid-size sedan total this year, and it’s a crying shame: it may be one of my favorite entries yet.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor


It’s easy to lose sight of just how rare non-premium, all-wheel drive, mid-size sedans are. If you’re in the market for all-weather security in a family car, your options are limited to the Ford Fusion, the Subaru Legacy, and this Suzuki Kizashi. Make the field that small, and the Kizashi is a genuine standout.

The Kizashi delivers smart looks, excellent interior quality, a decent engine, and easy-to-use controls. Suzuki’s biggest accomplishment, though, is absolutely nailing the ride/handling balance. The Kizashi is compliant and comfortable without being soggy or imprecise. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the superb steering, which can be hard to come by in a mid-size sedan. In many ways, the chassis reminds me of some of Volkswagen’s best products.

Subaru, with its longitudinally mounted engines and 50/50 default torque bias offers a more robust all-wheel-drive system for those who need serious four-wheel traction for major winter snow. But the truth is that many all-wheel-drive buyers are simply purchasing the idea of safety to get them through a few light snowstorms. For those shoppers, I’d definitely recommend the Kizashi as the best-driving all-wheel-drive sedan in this class.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor


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Some automaker with a large advertising budget and dealer network needs to pick up Suzuki and tap its potential. That was what was supposed to happen when the mighty Volkswagen Group bought a stake in the small Japanese company, but the marriage doesn’t seem to be working out, which a shame. The Kizashi shows that Suzuki has the fundamentals to be a very successful automaker. Its suspension and steering is tuned perfectly to the tastes of the discerning American buyer. It has a smooth, relatively efficient four-cylinder engine and smartly offers all-wheel drive. The styling is attractive and nicely proportioned. Even the interior, usually a sore spot for small automakers, is executed to near perfection, with nicely grained materials and solid build quality. On that last note, our departed Four Seasons Kizashi, an all-wheel-drive model like this car, made it through our test without needing a single repair. Suzuki, judged purely by its cars, has many of the same merits as Subaru, which is selling more than 200,000 cars per year in the United States. Due to a near invisible advertising presence and a tiny dealer network, Suzuki’s sales aren’t even close to those of struggling Mitsubishi. Again, that’s a shame.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor


Much like the our departed Four Seasons Kizashi, this Sport GTS is a really good car that just isn’t on the radar when it comes to mid-size family sedans. The Kizashi’s styling is nothing to write home about, but it’s very contemporary looking and doesn’t make the car stand out as the market anomaly that it actually is. Interior fit and finish is very good as well, and if our Four Seasons example is any indicator, it will hold up even with heavy use. The continuously variable transmission makes itself known as it drones under acceleration, but once you get up to highways speeds, the engine revs at only about 2500 rpm and its noise is nicely muted from inside the cabin. One area that might be hurting the Kizashi’s sales (other than the fact that no one’s heard of it) is its fuel economy. With several of its front-wheel-drive competitors either hitting or coming within an mpg or so of the magic 40 mpg mark, this car’s 30 mpg on the highway doesn’t cut it if fuel economy is the goal. Of course, for some people, all-wheel drive may tip the scales back in the Kizashi’s favor.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor


When the Kizashi first launched, we all marveled at how similar it looked, felt, and drove to the Volkswagen Jetta, the then-pinnacle of the compact sedan class. High praise, and it still rings true today — although, since VW has subsequently dulled down the Jetta in pursuit of a lower price point, it’s not unreasonable to suggest the Kizashi is a little more unique than ever before. I’m still impressed with the steering feel and body control exhibited by this car. And the Kizashi delivers a rather comfortable ride over some of the worst surfaces Michigan can dish out. The interior is also surprisingly first-rate, with materials that feel oddly upscale for a Suzuki-built car.

Still, I fear this car will have as hard a time as ever finding traction in our market. I can’t help but notice the new 2012 Subaru Impreza delivers many of the same hallmarks of the Kizashi — namely all-wheel-drive, 30+ mpg on the highway, and similar physical footprint – but suspect it’ll sell far better than the Suzuki. The Kizashi may offer a little snazzier interior and a bit more cabin volume, but the small national dealer network — to say nothing of the lack of brand recognition — may hinder its chances at success. Pity.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD RPM 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD dash 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD speedometer 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD middle console 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD gearshift 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD engine parts 2012 suzuki kizashi sport GTS AWD wheel

2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport GTS AWD

MSRP (with destination): $26,624
PRICE AS TESTED: $27,279

ENGINE:
2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION:
Continuously variable automatic

DRIVE:
All-wheel

WHEELS AND TIRES:
18-inch aluminum wheels
235/45VR-18 Dunlop SP Sport 700 tires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
22/29/25 mpg

CURB WEIGHT:
3241 lb

CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 13.3 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 41.7/35.6 in
Headroom (front/rear): 39.3/37.0 in
Towing: N/A

EXTERIOR/INTERIOR COLOR:
Platinum Gray/Black

STANDARD FEATURES:
Body kit
Sport suspension
Fog lights
Rockford Fosgate audio system w/USB port
Power sunroof
Heated outside mirrors
Split folding rear seats
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Dual zone automatic climate control
Keyless entry and ignition
Tire pressure monitoring system
Stability and traction control
Four-wheel disc brakes
Paddle shifters
Cloth sport seats
Cruise control

OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Platinum Silver paint- $130
Floor and cargo mats- $210
Bluetooth- $250
Trunk sub-floor organizer- $65

KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Satellite radio- $590
Graywood dash trim- $290
Cross bars- $260

ADDITIONAL SPECS:
None

COMPARE TO:
Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Jetta

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