By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
The 2012 Kizashi is arguably the most important car in Suzuki's meager and aging automotive lineup, which includes three of its own models and a Nissan-supplied pickup. The Kizashi sedan was introduced as a 2010 model and represents the newest vehicle for the Japanese automaker. Its name translates loosely to "something great is coming," and was meant to rejuvenate Suzuki's U.S. auto division. While the success of the car's long-term mission is still to be determined, in the here and now the Kizashi represents one of the few bright spots for the automaker. Available in front or all-wheel drive, the 5-passenger Kizashi has a budget-friendly price and offers solid handling, power and fuel economy in a package that looks good on the inside and great on the outside.
Standing out from the crowd is a strong suit for the Kizashi, which, in addition to being relatively new, doesn't sell in the big numbers of most of its competitors. All-wheel drive is a smart option for those who travel in inclement weather and, because the Kizashi was targeted at premium, slightly larger cars, such as the Acura TSX, instead of compacts such as the Toyota Corolla, this underdog was built to do more for less.
Regardless of how good a car or its warranty may be, without a strong dealer network behind it the customer can end up losing out when it comes to service and repairs. Suzuki franchise dealers have been dwindling for years now, and its vehicle lineup in general continues to fly under the radar. Also, the Kizashi may require some explaining from its owner, not the least of which is how to pronounce its name: "kee-zah-shee."
The 2012 Kizashi carries over mostly unchanged from 2011, in which the Sport version, that included lighter alloy wheels and aerodynamic modifications, became available with the GTS and SLS upper trim levels. The base S continues as is, while leather seating is now an option for the mid-level SE version.
Driving Impressions On the road, the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi feels solid and relatively comfortable. Despite what those big tailpipes might suggest, the Kizashi is not fast, but posts decent 0-60-mph times around...the 8-second range, depending upon the transmission. Speaking of which, in the Kizashi we actually prefer the CVT automatic (with available paddle shifters) over the 6-speed manual. For models equipped with Suzuki's "intelligent all-wheel-drive" (i-AWD), a driver can easily switch between front-drive and an AWD mode that can split the torque 50/50 between the front and rear wheels for superior traction. In everyday driving, the Kizashi provides commendable driving dynamics while also offering pleasant around-town comfort.
SIZE AND CARGO CAPACITY
At 183.1 inches in length, the 2012 Kizashi is larger than most compact sedans but smaller than those in the midsize category. This in-between sizing pays off with increased rear-seat legroom and generous cargo capacity in an easy-to-park package.
Rare among cars of this price and size, this option adds an extra measure of driving confidence by giving the Kizashi additional grip on any road surface. For those living where it snows, it's another reason to put the Kizashi on your consideration list.
While the interior is more conservative than the exterior might suggest, the Kizashi's cabin is inviting and laid out well. Front seats are supportive and comfortable, and rear legroom is roomy but still not greater than the space found in the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic sedans. Among the highlights is the tactile feel of the Suzuki's controls, such as the steering-wheel-mounted audio functions. The trunk is spacious for this class, and the rear seats split and fold for added capacity.Exterior
One of the best aspects of the 2012 Kizashi is the aggressive look that sets it apart from popular compacts such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and even the relatively fresh Kia Forte. A forward stance, large honeycombed grille, short rear end and a pair of large trapezoidal tailpipes give the Kizashi a sporty appearance. Sport GTS and Sport SLS versions have a slightly lower ground clearance and an even sleeker profile. Move up from the 16-inch steel wheels on the base version to the 18-inch alloys, and you'll be rewarded with a truly premium look.
Except for the glaring omission of a radio as standard, even the basest of 2012 Suzuki Kizashi models comes comfortably equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat vents, keyless entry with push-button start, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and eight air bags, all at a price under $20,000. Laudably, all Kizashi models use a timing chain instead of a belt to drive the camshafts in the engine, meaning less worry and maintenance down the road.
All-wheel drive can be added to any trim level of the Kizashi, meaning you can get an AWD automatic S model for just over $23,000. Other ways to spruce up the sedan include a 10-speaker, 425-watt Rockford Fosgate AM/FM/CD audio system with subwoofer, navigation unit, Bluetooth streaming audio, leather seating, redwood dash trim and rear sonar-based parking assist. Skiers will appreciate not only the rear-seat pass-through, but the optional ski bag to keep the interior clean and dry.
All Kizashi models are powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that runs on regular unleaded gasoline. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic. Perhaps disappointing some enthusiasts, the 6-speed is available only with front drive. The engine provides enough thrust to confidently get the Kizashi up to speed and for passing purposes, but it's not exactly a tarmac burner.
2.4-liter in-line 4 cylinder
185 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm (manual transmission)
180 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (with CVT automatic transmission)
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Kizashi S: 21/31 (manual, FWD), 23/31 mpg (CVT, FWD), 23/30 mpg (CVT, AWD)
Kizashi SE: 23/30 mpg (CVT, FWD), 22/29 mpg (CVT, AWD)
Kizashi Sport GTS: 20/29 mpg (manual, FWD), 23/30 mpg (CVT, FWD), 22/29 mpg (CVT, AWD)
Kizashi Sport SLS: 23/30 mpg (CVT, FWD), 22/29 mpg (CVT, AWD)
By Driver on Sunday, September 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
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."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By barra on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "33-34 mpg average, ride quality, "feel""
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the manual transmission because it gives me an extra way of slowing the car in winter driving. A good set of all-weather tires helps too. It has for-wheel disc brakes and they stop the car very well. The recommendation is to use the parking brake. Just leaving it in gear will not hold the car in place on a hill. Like most modern cars, there is no visible reference to tell me where the the front end starts and the back end stops so I had to figure that out myself. The car handles very well with a tight turning radius. The environmental control system, sound system and interior materials are very good. This is my first experience with a Key fob that opens everything. It is almost too convenient."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jake on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beautiful Car"
Cons: "needs more tire noise dampening."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has a beautiful interior and has exterior likes that I like very much. It is a drivers car and loves the road. Every where I go someone is asking me about the car. This car would have been a terrific seller if it had made it to the market a few years sooner. I personally find it hard to believe it is a Suzuki because they were so ugly and cheap looking in the past. A wonderful car to late. Someone should pick up this design add a V6 and enjoy mountains of sales."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Rod on Thursday, June 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well, CVT smooth, catches eyes"
Cons: "too few to complain"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I purchased this vehicle a year after so I got away from all of the lost cost driving off of the dealer lot. At 12000 miles new to me It was still in excellent condition and couldnt even tell it was a year old. I have the Sport SLS model and for the price the thing is loaded with options and extras. Not just fancy wood on the dash or a whatever switch that really has no use. I have two girls 5-10 so the black leather is amazing and holding up really well and even the plastic and buttons, that I have seen on other cheaper forgein models, are holding up nicely. I cant tell you how many times I have been in a parking lot and had people come up just to see exactly what it is because there arent many on the road.... Hopefully that is not an issue when it comes to repair time so I guess we will see that way. It is a little noisy with the light 4 cylinder road noise wise. and even though it looks fast and furious per say its not going to be beating too many off the light. However, it is wonderfully smooth and once you put better tires on it, it handles the road like a champs. I live in mountainous and windy area and you just feel comfortable taking any corner. I would recommend this rig for sure. Hesitant about repairs since SUZUKI is no longer going to sell in US. But I will just keep enjoying the nice ride until that time comes."
14 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By barra48 on Sunday, May 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good acceleration,gas mileage,handling, finish."
Cons: "The car is no longer being brought into the US."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought the car because it had a manual transmission and was bigger and more comfortable than the Cobalt that I had. At the time, I did not know that the American car division of Suzuki was bankrupt and that no more cars were being imported. The dealership didn't tell me at the time of purchase. The car handles well, stops well and is quite comfortable over the road. If anything, it is too convenient. The key fob allows me to open the doors and trunk and start the car without a key. This has been a complaint about other cars in the US as well. I average 33-34 mpg. I use synthetic oil and Suzuki filters to maintain warranty. The car had no spare tire just an inflation kit. I bought a spare wheel and tire after a hole in the tire could not be repaired with the kit. The only questionable aspect of the car is that the engine compression will not hold the car on a grade with the car in first gear. I have to use the parking brake ( which works very well) to keep the car from rolling backwards."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Wayne on Sunday, April 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage, dependability, driveability"
Cons: "Driver's seat position, factory wheels"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought my certified pre-owned 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SE almost two years ago. I spend most of my time traveling on the highway and average around 37mpg. The best I have seen is 42.9mpg over several occasions, but this is generally traveling at 53mph with less than a 1/4 tank of gas. The car is fun to drive; I love my CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), mainly for its engine braking. The CVT transmission also has a fun select shift mode, and when engaged will provide a digital read out of which speed you are in located on the instrument panel, and will automatically down shift when coming to a stop. The car has a great braking system. I hardly have to apply any force to my brakes because the CVT transmission does most of the stopping! The position of the driver’s seat is different to say the least; however I came from driving a sports sedan to this so the position is very different. At 5' 10" sitting in the driver’s seat can feel rather snug at times thanks to a tall seat height and close steering wheel. The car offers comfortable back seats, and I would rate them about average when it comes to leg room. The trunk is quite large with four tie down points and a neat cargo compartment in the spare tire area. The cars stereo is descent but not impressive. The base stereo offers AM/FM, XM, Single MP3 CD, and USB."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful