At some point in their lives, most people find themselves in need of a small, inexpensive car that gets them around with minimal hassle. While the names "Civic" and "Corolla" come up in most every small sedan buyer's research, the trouble is that you often pay dearly for these household names. In hopes of attracting people on a tighter budget, Suzuki offered the Forenza from 2004-'08.
This value-oriented compact came in sedan and wagon body styles. It boasted a low price of entry, a roomy interior, European-inspired design, a host of standard features, competitive power figures and a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
At a glance, the well-equipped Suzuki Forenza appeared to offer terrific value. But in our evaluations, we found that it fell short of the segment leaders in terms of performance, fuel economy, handling and interior refinement. Unless you really need the extra space of its available wagon body style in a used car, we recommend that you focus on one of its more worthy competitors.
Most Recent Suzuki Forenza
The Suzuki Forenza debuted in 2004, with the wagon model following in 2005. The Forenza was actually built by the Korean automaker Daewoo and rebadged as the Forenza for the American market. It was offered as a four-door sedan or wagon in a single trim level with various available packages. Standard equipment included four-wheel disc brakes, air-conditioning, front seat side airbags, full power accessories and a CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel controls. Notably, ABS was an extra-cost option.
The Forenza was powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 127 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. This engine performed adequately with the manual transmission but felt burdened and underpowered when saddled with the four-speed automatic. To make matters worse, it wasn't particularly fuel-efficient or refined, either.
The Forenza's cabin was something of a mixed bag, too. It was spacious, with lots of stylish metallic accents, but this was offset by inconsistent materials quality and an overall lack of refinement and quality compared with class leaders. If you can get past that, there was lots of rear legroom for adults and a 60/40-split-folding seatback for extra utility. The sedan provided 12 cubic feet of trunk capacity, with the wagon offering nearly 62 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded.
On the road, the Suzuki Forenza exhibited soft, rubbery handling and a poor ride quality compared with its competitors, as well as excessive wind noise on the highway. Although it was compliant enough, it exhibited little suspension control over bumps and ruts. Handling around corners was loose and unsure, with excessive body roll and minimal grip from the tires. When merging into traffic, automatic-equipped Forenzas accelerated weakly, and any such maneuver took some advance planning.
Changes were slight during the Suzuki Forenza's run. For 2005, side impact airbags became standard for all Forenzas. The Forenza was freshened up a bit for 2006, receiving a new front fascia, redesigned seats, new wheels and revised trim levels. Bluetooth became available for 2008.