By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/4/2012
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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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."What's New for 2012
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
A base 2012 Suzuki Kizashi can be had for under $20,000, including destination. But, in reality – and if you want a radio – expect to pay a few to several thousand more once you add an automatic transmission, power driver's seat and other features. A fully-loaded Sport SLS Kizashi with navigation can reach about $31,000. At these prices, the Kizashi costs more than the Subaru Impreza, which has all-wheel drive standard, and the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3. But the Kizashi is more powerful and slightly larger than those compacts. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2012 Kizashi. In terms of resale value, Suzuki vehicles tend to not do well, and the Kizashi is no exception.