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2011 Suzuki Kizashi

Overview
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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.
Favorite Features

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
9.6
Out of 10

Based on 49 Ratings for the 2010 - 2013 models.

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

Great value and lots of fun!

By on Monday, December 09, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,200

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
7/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Sexy and fun. Handles well. Lots of features."

Cons: "Sluggish CVT, paint chips, TPMS"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I'll say that this car is simply amazing for the price. Lot's of great features one would typically only find on a higher-end vehicle: (projector headlamps, foglights, Sat-Nav, Traction-control, push-button start, sport-shift, etc..) Sporty and solid. Very plucky once the CVT gets spooled-up. Handling is tight and agile for a rather heavy vehicle. Flappy-paddle shifters on the wheel are a fun touch. The interior is well-appointed and doesn't have a cheap feel. Cabin space is very roomy with lots of hiding places and cup-holders. Trunk is massive! The Rockford Fosgate stereo sounds pretty good for a factory unit. Seats are comfortable. Interior lighting is pretty cool too. *A few minor things that are annoying thus far: 1. Paint chips are a bit ridiculous for a car with 15K. I hear that Suzuki has had issues with that in these models, but I can live with it now. Buy a hood protector, for sure! 2. The washer sprayers. They're just not adequate in my opinion and spray a bit willy-nilly. Not a big deal, either, but it could have been better. 3. The CVT still feels pretty sloppy at low speeds. I think it gets to 6th gear way too soon and bogs down at low speeds. It goes like mad when you get the throttle down, though. 4. It's got some massive blind-spots, particularly from the A-pillar and big side-view mirrors. Seeing out the back is a bit difficult, but my model has a backup camera and that helps. All-in-all, though, I think it's really an amazing car and I'd recommend it. It has it's faults, but what car doesn't? I haven't had any reliability issues as of yet so I did not rate for it. Hopefully, they will be few and far between."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Lot of car for a little money.. ! ! ! ! !

By on Thursday, October 24, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Cons: "Can't think of any cons right now... :)"

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

"I bought the car new and really love it. Has a really great suspension, very nimble and agile. Really great pick up and good fuel mileage. The car is fully loaded and looks really cute too. Love to drive it gets lots of looks."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Nice ride

By on Sunday, October 06, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,100

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great price,fun drive"

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

"Sporty good looks and comfortable ride at a great price. Guess Suzuki put the money into the vehicle and not advertising. Compares favorably with cars costing a whole lot more."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

good price, fun to drive, great handling, solid

By on Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,990

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "good price, fun to drive, solid feel, great sporty"

Cons: "none"

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

"I fell in love with this car immediately! It handles beautifully, has a high end feel with a quality interior. This is a fun car to drive! I use the manual option most of the time, which seems to boost the mpg. It has a sporty look and feel, a solid ride and superb handling on winding roads."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Best value and look for price

By on Sunday, July 28, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"Although Suzuki America filed for bankruptcy,I would buy this car again.Dealer in my city is signed on for warranty work.Choice between this,Sonata,Optima,Accord,.Camry,Altima,or any other comparable car was a no brainer."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Pleasantly surprised. Better than you'd think.

By on Thursday, May 23, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Value AWD luxury for cheap!"

Cons: "more ponies would be nice..."

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

"I've owned many high end cars... This feels and drives like an entry AUDI, SAAB or BMW! For the price of this thing nothing even comes close. For the price I actually paid (way below sticker) it's a G-D steal! I have a fully loaded 13 SLS. It fully rivals the last SAAB I had, only the AWD makes this one better. If this holds up and isn't problematic this will be the best purchase I have ever made. What a fantastic underrated car. Get one, you won't be disappointed. Oh, right... you can't get one anymore. I'm glad I got one of the last ones. Couldn't care less about the implied poor resale since Suzuki pulled out of the US... I'm not selling it :) Drive it... I don't know what it really is, but I can't believe it is really a Suzuki! A friend from Europe says this is a direct competitor to the entry luxury brands and costs way more there..."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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