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2011 Suzuki Kizashi

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2011 Suzuki Kizashi Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.6

While the entire automotive industry, beginning in 2008, took a tumble, Suzuki's automotive arm - at least in the U.S. - figuratively drove off a cliff. U.S. sales of its automotive lineup went from 100,000 in 2007, to 80,000 in 2008 and roughly half of that reduced figure in 2009. You can chalk up at least part of that decline to American Suzuki's fiscal conservatism, part of it to a marginal dealer network, and part to Suzuki-branded vehicles secured from then-partner GM. Beginning in 2010 there's been at least a hint of a rebound, underscored by the well-received debut of Suzuki's most significant investment to date, the Kizashi. A mid-size sport sedan intended to capture the attention of both Accord and Audi intenders, the Kizashi conveys a European feel in combination with an Asian - or domestic - price point. For 2011 a Kizashi Sport is added to the mix, doing an even more credible job of channeling Euro specification, while keeping the price points appropriately aggressive.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you enjoy driving something distinctive (hard to find in a mid-size, 4-door platform), the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi is your cup of Japanese tea. Its strong European feel, both in sheetmetal and suspension, are quite distinctive in a segment anchored by offerings from Honda, Toyota and Nissan. Further, attention to detail is first-rate, and its operation - handling, steering and braking - is seamless.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you prefer to exist (at least automotively) in relative anonymity, the Kizashi may generate too many questions at car washes, gas stations and high school reunions. Also, there's the very real issue of market representation; Suzuki's dealer network is, as this is written, in a state of almost constant transition. In most metro areas you can count on at least one dealer, while in Southern California - as an example - there's but one dealer for several million households. All the quality (and warranty) in the world won't help if your dealer is 200 miles away.

What's New for 2011

The big news is the addition of a Sport derivative to the Kizashi's GTS and SLS lineup. Notably, all Kizashis are sporty, but the Sport enhances the package with unique - and lighter - alloy wheels, revised handling and aero mods that are extremely well integrated. Inside, the sport buckets - at least in leather-clad SLS form - receive contrasting stitching on seats, shift boot and parking brake.

Driving the Kizashi

Driving Impressions The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi is not, by any measure, the performance package offered by Suzuki's two-wheeled Hayabusa; neither is it the sport sedan equivalent of Suzuki's iconic Samurai...

SUV. It is - we suppose - in a delightful place midway between the two. It is underpinned by a structure almost vault-like in its solidity, and suspended by a supple - albeit controlled - fully independent suspension. Acceleration, when facilitated by the six-speed manual, is better than adequate, while the CVT automatic goes about its business in a business-like manner. The automotive media has been universal in its praise of the Kizashi for its on-road dynamic and around-town comfort, and a full year in a long-term test vehicle has done nothing to dispel that impression among kbb.com staff.

Sport Bucket Seats
Most affordable mid-size sedans may offer a "sporting" upgrade, but virtually no one offers a premium interior in their base variants. Suzuki's Kizashi does, and the standard buckets provide the perfect balance between easy access and appropriate lateral support. The leather of the SLS is, of course, even more deluxe, but those with but $20K to spend needn't feel cheated while seated.

Alloy Wheels and 45-Series Tires
Most manufacturers will happily offer a performance tire/wheel package, but only if you're willing to pay on the north end of twenty-something thousand. With the Kizashi, Suzuki offers stylish and functional 18-inch alloys on all models except the very base price leader. We'll throw kudos to Suzuki, while offering our condolences to the automotive aftermarket.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Details
Interior

Again, Suzuki's design team looked to Volkswagen and Audi for inspiration in both materials and layout. Instrument design, metallic trim and liberal use of soft-touch materials convey a premium look and feel even when, on closer inspection, the actual material may not be all that premium. And the Kizashi exists on the smaller side of mid-size. To that end, a family of four or five will find comfort, while an NFL team's front five will find it a tad cramped. A folding rear seat, however, adds immeasurably to the Kizashi's functionality.

Exterior

Within its conventional three-box, front-wheel drive architecture Suzuki's design staff attempted to break out from what is typically regarded as Asian generic. And while that team clearly succeeded in creating something completely different from Accord or Camry, they didn't escape the "it's a derivative" criticism. There's a lot of Audi/VW in the Kizashi exterior, and while that's not a bad visual, neither is it an original visual. In front, the fascia is dominated by a prominent, Audi-esque grille flanked by proportionally expressive headlamps. The Kizashi fenders are flared, and filled appropriately (at least on all models except 'base') by generous wheel and tire stock. In back, the tail is athletically tapered and - in Sport variants - topped by a tastefully integrated rear spoiler. Boy racers won't necessarily be head-over-heels, but their older counterparts (man racers?) should be.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

With a base price of under $20K (with destination and handling) you might expect the list of standard equipment to be short and the list of optional extras to be long; this is where Suzuki's product team departed from the Germanic model. Keyless entry and engine start; power windows, locks and mirrors; dual zone climate control and premium audio are all to the "standard" side of the Monroney label. On the safety front, the Kizashi is front and center, with a class-exclusive eight standard airbags; ABS with electronic brake-force distribution; and a tire pressure monitoring system. Notably, the Kizashi already meets crash standards that take effect in 2012, and side barrier and side-pole crash standards for 2014.

Optional Equipment

The Kizashi SE - one step from the base level S model - adds a CVT automatic transmission, 235/45-18 tires mounted on alloy wheels, a 10-way power driver seat with three-position memory, cruise control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift lever and parking brake lever. Move up to either GTS or SLS and the Sport variations include (beyond a now-standard moonroof) a more muscular front fascia, body side sill extensions, lighter weight (by some two pounds per corner) alloy wheels and lowered ride height. Inside, Sport models receive a distinctive sport steering wheel with contrasting stitching.

Under the Hood

As this is written gas is once again inching - or, more correctly, racing - to $4/gallon. To that end, Suzuki's decision to offer only one drivetrain - a 2.4 liter DOHC four - and forego an available V6 seems absolutely prescient. To be sure, that same decision came in for its share of criticism at the time of the sedan's introduction, especially when "sport" was used as its modifier. The manual trans is the choice for those with sporting ambitions, but the CVT - although more labored from a standing start - has a way of building momentum that is positively infectious. With all of that, any number of observers has lamented the lack of a manual trans with the optional all-wheel drive. That combo might not slay the Audi, but would certainly give it a run for its Deutschmark.

2.4-liter in-line 4
185 horsepower @ 6500 rpm (with manual transmission)
180 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (with CVT)
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (manual, FWD, S Sedan), 20/29 (manual, FWD), 23/31 (CVT, FWD, S Sedan), 23/30 (CVT, FWD), 23/30 (AWD, S Sedan), 22/29 (AWD)

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2011 Suzuki Kizashi Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.5
Out of 10

Based on 61 Ratings for the 2010 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.5/10
    Quality
    9.5/10
  • Reliability
    9.6/10
    Performance
    9.4/10
  • Comfort
    9.5/10
    Styling
    9.5/10

The car has treated me well. Worth the money.

By on Saturday, August 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Price, good looking car, cheap on gas."

Cons: "Small interior, could be more luxuries inside"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"If you are looking for a roomy car....then this is not it. No great if you have a big family. The back seat is not that roomy. In town mileage is not so hot, however the highway mileage is impressive. The car looks good though from the outside and has a bit of a sporty edge to it in my opinion. I would recommend to someone as a great starter car that looks good and has some needed luxuries on the inside that you would expect, but it is not over the top....don't be expecting a benz on the inside."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

best car I've ever hammered relentlessly

By on Friday, July 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 164,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "handling ride MPG cabin comfort quiet reliability"

Cons: "sluggish off the line; no cheap gofast parts; low"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

what others see

"Zero repairs; replaced spark plugs, brake rotors and pads one time, both headlamp bulbs, 4 license plate bulbs. And tires, lots of tires. That's it. No belts or hoses or battery or struts or shocks or nothing; nothing. Absolutely stunning ownership experience, my best ever (bought my first new car in 1974, and been piling on miles ever since). Best. Ever."

10 people out of 16 found this review helpful

what others see

After 13 Cars I've found "The One"

By on Friday, July 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Paddle shifters, power everything, memory seats"

Cons: "Mileage - Averages about 28MPG"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I purchased this car in 2014 after going through a serious midlife crisis with a souped up Toyota FJ Cruiser. Now When I say this car has it all - I am serious - This car has it all! I took the test drive, played with the paddle shifters, jacked the bass up on the 10inch sub that comes stock and let the good times roll. So far I've driven this car from Milwaukee, WI to Nebraska - Let me just say - I drank 4 redbulls set the cruise control to 80 MPH and I covered that distance in 7.5 hours - ABSOLUTELY amazing and fun to drive - this car moves. If you know anything about downshifting gears it'll get you off the line with a chirp - LOVE IT!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I really like this car, no regrets.

By on Monday, March 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great value, dependable, fun to drive"

Cons: "only 25 MPG"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Bought this car, new and loaded (SLS), and have used it to commute. I've been putting 35K miles on it per year and never have had any trouble wiht it. It handles great and looks pretty sharp too as I've gotten lots of compliments on it. It goes great in the snow. The ammenities make it feel like a $30,000+ car but I only paid a fraction of that for it. A great reliable little car."

4 people out of 10 found this review helpful

One of the best vehicles I have ever owned.

By on Monday, February 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Value, reliability, styling, & fun to drive factor"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car has great looks, handles fantastically, excellent gas mileage, and was priced great. The 6 speed manual makes this car drive and handle better than any of the 3 series BMW's that I have owned. The only problem that I had is keeping the light beige interior clean. The fault there is mine, but why would they even offer a light cloth interior like that? I had a 2011 Altima and this car beat it down in every category. I would buy this vehicle all day long, it's too bad they don't offer them in the US anymore. It's been reliable since day one when I purchased it new. In 3+ years all I have had to do is put on a set of new tires. If you have a chance to pick up a used one, do not hesitate to grab it quickly because it's far better than anything in its' class."

2 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Sexy, practical and reliable

By on Sunday, September 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Quality, luxury and handling at good price"

Cons: "Slow off the line, not for tall drivers"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I own a 2012 Sport SLS, loaded. Very attractive styling, I get frequent positive comments from people about it's looks. The silver metallic paint is stunning, I have not yet seen a more attractive silver. The wheels are gorgeous but very difficult to clean and super sensitive to ANY cleaner, mine still look good but are splotchy from whatever coating is coming off. Interior is understated and elegant, Audi-esque, and noticeably well assembled. No seams misaligned or out of place, it's perfect. Black leather with white stitching durable, comfortable and elegant. Very good interior room, 4 people is no problem, 5 is. Firm but compliant ride reminds me of my 2000 VW Golf, which is a compliment. Handling is superior, this chassis eats up curves. Is a dog from 0-20 or so, spools up nicely past that. I avg 26 mpg and drive relatively conservatively, have achieved 32 mpg on extended highway trips but usually 29-30. Perfect reliability so far. Steering wheel needs to telescope another two inches, I'm 6' and have difficulty achieving a truly comfortable driving position due to this. I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone under 6' tall, this is really a very nice car that no one owns. Oh, the 450 watt Rockford Fosgate system is ridiculous - loud but very clear and crisp."

15 people out of 25 found this review helpful

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