The all-new Suzuki SX4 hatchback replaces the Aerio SX hatchback (Suzuki still offers the Aerio in sedan form). The SX4 is the lowest-priced all-wheel-drive (AWD) car on the U.S. market. Clever packaging allows the SX4 to provide ample room for 4 people (5 in a pinch) and their stuff in a small package that's unusually well equipped.
Though Suzuki has offered a wide variety of models in the United States, they are best known for their small cars and chunky mini-4x4s. So it makes sense that they've seen fit to combine the two with the SX4-a small, AWD 5-door hatchback. The SX4 uses its tall shape to benefit rear-seat passengers. The rear seat is raised high off the floor, which provides better leg room than expected considering the car's short length. Rather than use a simple fold-down seatback, the SX4's rear seats can be flipped forward, SUV-style, to expand cargo-carrying capacity.
The SX4 is available in two models-base and Sport. Both are powered by a 143-hp 2.0-liter engine and choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The AWD system used in the SX4 has three modes: two-wheel drive, which delivers 100 percent of engine power to the front wheels; AWD Auto, which diverts up to 50 percent of the power from the front to the rear wheels as needed; and AWD Lock, which locks the system in four-wheel drive, delivering 30 to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, depending on conditions. The only drawback to the system is lower gas mileage; the SX4's EPA fuel economy estimates are significantly lower than most subcompact hatchbacks.
On the safety front, the SX4 offers anti-lock brakes and front, side, and side curtain air bags; electronic stability control is standard on the Sport model. Other standard equipment includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; a CD/MP3 player; and a roof rack. The Sport model adds a Smart Pass proximity key, automatic climate control, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a 9-speaker stereo (including subwoofer) with a 6-disc CD changer. The SX4's warranty consists of 3 years or 36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper coverage and 7 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain.
The Suzuki SX4 competes in the Compact Conventional segment, which consists of 20 models. Buyers in this segment look for fuel economy, reliability, and safety, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Avoider StudySM and the Escaped Shopper Study.SM
The top sellers in the segment during calendar year 2006, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM were the Toyota Corolla (328,699 units sold), Honda Civic (316,638), and Chevrolet Cobalt (211,449). The Suzuki SX4 sold 3,722 units in 2006 in its first year on the market. Other models offered in the Compact Conventional segment include the Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Jetta, and Saturn Ion. Joining the segment in 2007 are the Pontiac G5 and Volkswagen Rabbit .
|Base (M5)||5 speed manual||$14,999||143-hp / 2.0L 4-cyl||23/28|
|Convenience (M5)||5 speed manual||$15,349||143-hp / 2.0L 4-cyl||23/28|
|Rally (M5)||5 speed manual||$16,148||143-hp / 2.0L 4-cyl||23/28|
|Sport (M5)||5 speed manual||$16,449||143-hp / 2.0L 4-cyl||23/28|