Months in fleet: Eight
Miles to date: 24,646
Eight months in, we continue to have few complaints regarding our Four Seasons Suzuki Kizashi -- but we are now wondering if we ordered the right transmission.
Recently, we had two other Kizashi test cars in the office, and both were equipped with the six-speed manual transmission rather than our long termer's continuously variable transmission. The stick shift was enough to make some of our editors swoon.
They praised the manual for its short, precise throws and well-weighted clutch pedal. We also enjoyed the ability to keep the 2.4-liter four-cylinder in its sweet spot. As assistant editor David Zenlea notes, the little four-banger "needs revs, and lots of them." Sure enough, Suzuki reports that peak torque -- 170 pound feet -- is delivered at 4000 rpm. Rev the engine above this point, and what previously felt like a sluggish four-banger suddenly comes alive. As a bonus, the engine also adds another 5 horsepower when paired with the manual transmission, bringing the grand total to 185 hp at 6500 rpm.
One downside to the six-speed, though, is that the throttle hangs open during clutching, making it somewhat difficult to precisely -- and smoothly -- time shifts, although this seems to primarily be an issue of calibration.
Another knock against the six-speed is that only Kizashis built with the CVT are available with Suzuki's optional all-wheel-drive system. You can't combine a the manual with AWD. "Enthusiasts are the only ones who would buy such a combination," acknowledges senior online editor Phil Floraday, "but I think that might actually help sell more Kizashis. It's not like mainstream buyers are flocking to this car, so why not go all out for enthusiasts?"
An interesting point, but there's a lot in the Kizashi, even as currently offered, that we think mainstream buyers can enjoy. Its compact size may be a turn-off to buyers looking for the largest available midsize car, but Suzuki's sedan is quite endearing to drive -- regardless of the transmission or driveline chosen.
"I'm charmed by how the Kizashi combines some of the best attributes of Mazda and Volkswagen sedans," says associate editor Eric Tingwall. "In typical Mazda fashion, the Kizashi boasts a chassis that handily outperforms the engine. The modest output allows you to spend more time exercising the car at high rpms with the responsive power band. Volkswagen's inspiration is most apparent in the interior, with great materials, easy-to-use controls, and a thoughtful attention to details. With the Mazda6 and Volkswagen CC as some of my favorite midsize sedans, I guess it's no surprise that, in my personal hierarchy, the Kizashi sits well above the offerings from Nissan, GM, and Toyota."
2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS AWD
Base Price (with destination): $26, 749
Price as tested: $27,129
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Construction: Steel unibody
Size: DOHC inline four-cylinder
Displacement: 2.4 liters
Power: 180 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Fuel economy, city/highway: 22/29 mpg
Steering: Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock to lock: 2.6
Turning circle: 18.0 ft
Suspension, Front: Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, Rear: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes, F/R: Vented disc/disc, ABS
Wheels: 18-inch alloy
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport 7000 all-season tires
Tire Size: 235/45R18
Headroom, F/R: 39.3/37 in
Legroom, F/R: 41.7/35.6 in
Shoulder Room, F/R: 55.5/54.6 in
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Track, F/R: 61.6/61.6 in
L x W x H: 183.1 x 71.7 x 58.3
Cargo Capacity: 13.3 cu ft
Weight: 3483 lbs
Weight Dist. F/R:
Fuel Capacity: 16.6 gal
Est. Range: 481 miles
Fuel Grade: 87 octane
Heated front seats
Bluetooth phone connectivity
Rockford Fosgate audio system
Rear parking assist sensors
Rain sensing wipers
Automatic headlamp control
Homelink remote commander
Metallic paint - $130
Body side molding accents - $125
Premium floor mats - $125