While Suzuki makes class-leading motorcycles that are desired from Okinawa to Omaha, its luck in the automobile market has been less than stellar. Most of its models were rebadged Daewoos when the Suzuki SX4 was introduced. This compact car proved the small Japanese company could make better cars when it took on the project itself. While it's not quite as fun as Suzuki's two-wheeled vehicles, the SX4 is nevertheless a thoroughly competent and well-made small car.
Considering that Americans still overwhelmingly prefer sedans to hatchbacks, the sedan model gives the Suzuki SX4 an advantage over other subcompact cars that are offered only with a hatch. The available all-wheel drive on the hatchback also gives the SX4 a decided advantage, as do both models' impressive build quality and sporty styling. However, its 143-horsepower four-cylinder engine struggles with the hefty curb weight, and fuel economy is consequently below average as a result. If your top priority is having a fuel-sipping compact, the SX4 is not the best choice. Yet while other subcompacts may lean toward either sportiness or comfort, the Suzuki SX4 does a good job of providing both, with the added bonus of all-wheel drive and a sedan model.
Current Suzuki SX4
The Suzuki SX4 is offered in four-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles, which are split into two different styles. The sedan can be had in a no-nonsense economy car guise as well as a "Sport" series of trims that feature different suspension turning and styling. The hatchback is available as the sporty "Sportback" or the SX4 Crossover for those seeking a more rugged compact car with available all-wheel drive, SUV-like body cladding and a taller ride height.
Underneath its sporty exterior lies a platform shared with the previous-generation, award-winning Suzuki Swift sold in Europe and Japan. This translates into a car with ride and handling characteristics seemingly fashioned for those locales. The ride is on the firm side, but in an upscale sort of way, absorbing bumps and undulating pavement with impressive composure. Its steering is also tight and direct, offering one of the more fun driving experiences in this segment.
For those in colder climes, the SX4 Crossover should prove attractive, as it is the least expensive all-wheel-drive car on the market. Featuring three modes, the AWD system can be configured for maximum traction or fuel economy. AWD Auto is like many crossover SUV systems that shunt power to the rear wheels only when front-wheel slippage is detected. AWD Lock is for lower speeds through snow or mud, while FWD mode is best for fuel economy. In most cases, that's the mode of choice, since neither body style achieves good fuel economy numbers for this class.
Picking the right SX4 for you can be tricky, as there are a multitude of trim levels available. The range starts off with the base sedan, which is scarcely appointed with full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt steering wheel and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. Added niceties available on both the upper sedan and Sportback trims include air-conditioning, a four-speaker sound system, cruise control, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, keyless ignition/entry and an integrated Garmin navigation system. The "Sport" sedan options include a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes and an aero body kit.
The interior is one of the Suzuki SX4's best attributes, sporting a simple, user-friendly design and decent materials. Although not as versatile as some other subcompact hatchbacks, the SX4 does offer plenty of rear passenger room and cargo space thanks to a flip-and-fold backseat that's placed high atop the floor for so-called "stadium seating."
Used Suzuki SX4 Models
The Suzuki SX4 debuted for the 2007 model year. Changes since then include the addition of the front-wheel-drive SX4 Sport sedan in '08; in its first year of production, the SX4 was offered only as an all-wheel-drive hatchback. Model-year 2009 saw the arrival of a front-wheel-drive hatchback (known as "Crossover"), a split-folding rear seat for the sedan and a standard navigation system on upper trim levels.
For 2010, Suzuki added the SX4 Sportback model and power was ever so slightly increased from 143 hp to 150. New transmissions -- a six speed manual and continuously variable (CVT) -- replaced the previous five-speed manual and four-speed automatic, improving fuel economy A restyled front fascia, new gauges, a height-adjustable driver seat, an auxiliary audio jack, a few new navigation features and some renamed trim levels also debuted for 2010.
It's important to note that every SX4 got standard stability control for 2012. Previously, it was only available on upper trim levels. For 2011 only, rear drum brakes came on the base and LE trims.