By KBB.com Editors
Like their mechanical clone, the Suzuki Reno hatchback, the Suzuki Forenza sedan and wagon also are manufactured in Korea by Daewoo and boast Italian styling, one trim level with loads of standard equipment, few options, attractive pricing and an outstanding warranty package. The pair share common Reno downsides, as well, notably an aging platform design, no higher-performance version, only mediocre fuel economy and the absence of features like traction control or stability control -- items offered by most of the competitors, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, Honda Civic, Kia Spectra, MAZDA3 and Toyota Corolla. Ironically, Suzuki's own SX4 crossover utility vehicle and new-for-2008 SX4 Sport sedan have become the Forenza's most direct rivals.You'll Like This Car If...
If an affordable, well-equipped and reliable car with European styling flair and an impressive overall warranty package sounds like your kind of vehicle, the Forenza sedan or wagon deserve a look.You May Not Like This Car If...
Those who demand the latest in safety or technology innovations, inherently sporty handling and/or premium resale value will be disappointed by any variation on the Forenza theme.What's New for 2008
The Convenience Package adds steering-wheel audio controls and all models gain chrome door handles and optional Bluetooth connectivity, but the number of speakers for the audio system is reduced from eight to six.Driving It Driving Impressions
Sedan or wagon, the Forenza is a best viewed as a comfort-focused commuter and cruiser. The tilt steering column and height-adjustable driver's seat make it easy to settle in behind the wheel and its compliant chassis does a respectable job of soaking up minor road imperfections. However, the engine's modest power and the amount of body roll during even modestly spirited cornering will not impress enthusiast drivers in the least; but then, enthusiast drivers are not likely to be interested in the Forenza, anyway. The Forenza's four-wheel disc brakes have a confident feel, but we'd still recommend stepping up to the anti-lock option -- even through it means having to spring for either the Convenience or Popular Package.Favorite Features
Standard CD/MP3 Player
The Forenza's standard six-speaker AM/FM audio system includes a single-disc CD player with MP3 playback capability.
Front Side-Impact Airbags
Unlike some pricier vehicles in its class, the Forenza's extensive standard equipment list includes driver and passenger side-impact airbags.
Charcoal and silver define the sole color palette in the Forenza's spacious cabin, with that theme appearing on the dash, door panels and seats. There's an abundance of hard plastic trim, but the general level of fit and finish here is competitive in its class. Legible gauges are complemented by well-positioned primary controls and the instrument panel's center-stack switchgear. The front seats could use a touch more lateral support, but the 60/40 split-folding rear bench will accommodate a pair of medium-sized adults or three kids. Folding both rear seatbacks flat will add an extra measure of utility to the sedan's 12.4 cubic-foot trunk and increases carrying capacity of the wagon's cargo area from 19.3 to 61.8 cubic feet.Exterior
With sheetmetal styled by Italian design house Pininfarina, both Forenza models have a clean, well-proportioned look punctuated by a crisp shoulder line, crystalline headlamp and taillamp lenses, body-color mirrors and door handles and pronounced fenders that cover 195/55 all-season tires on steel wheels. Both are identical forward of the B-pillar area. From there back, the gently arched roofline on the sedan breaks smartly into a short decklid while the rear quarters on the wagon match sloped contours with a large single-piece hatch that ensures plenty of real utility while imparting distinctive visual character.Notable Standard Equipment
Both Forenza sedan and wagon are available in only one, well-appointed trim level. In addition to a 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission, standard equipment includes power windows, door locks and heated mirrors, air conditioning, a six-speaker AM/FM audio system with single-slot MP3-compatible CD player, tilt steering column and dual-stage front and front side-impact airbags. Variable-speed windshield wipers are standard on both versions while the wagon also has a rear-window washer and wiper and standard silver roof rails.Notable Optional Equipment
Extras for the sedan and wagon are minimal and include a four-speed automatic transmission, the Convenience Package (cruise control and remote keyless entry with alarm) and the Popular Package (the Convenience Package features plus a power sunroof). Opting for either of those groups also allows you to add anti-lock brakes.Under the Hood
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in all Forenzas makes 127 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque, sufficient for both city traffic and freeway running but pretty marginal when it comes to things like aggressive passing maneuvers. Although teaming it with the five-speed manual rather than the optional four-speed automatic gives a bit more get-up-and-go, even that modest edge is hampered by a somewhat balky shift linkage. Arguably the biggest shortcoming here is the engine's lackluster fuel efficiency regardless of transmission. With the sedan EPA-rated at 20/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 19/28 mpg with the automatic, and the wagon at 19/27 mpg with either transmission, the Forenza falls well short of its main competitors -- even those with larger and/or more powerful engines -- as well as Suzuki's own newer and more potent SX4 and SX4 Sport sedan.
2.0-liter in-line 4
127 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
131 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (manual, sedan), 19/28 (automatic, sedan), 19/27 (manual, wagon), 19/27 (automatic, wagon)
Despite nominally attractive Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) that straddle the $15,000 mark, this aging duo faces some serious market challenges. The Forenza's residual values are significantly below virtually all of its competitors -- domestic, Japanese and Korean. More telling, Suzuki's newer and nicer all-wheel-drive SX4 crossover and just-introduced 2008 SX4 Sport are priced within mere hundreds of dollars of their Forenza counterparts. The good news is that budget-bound buyers should be able to negotiate attractive deals on a Forenza -- the kind of deal that may well make the difference between owning a new car (and one with Suzuki's outstanding warranty) and having to settle for a used vehicle. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers are paying for the Forenza in your area.