KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Endowed with a bit more aggressively styled bodywork than the Suzuki Forenza on which it's based, the five-door, front-drive Suzuki Reno hatchback has room, ride comfort and lots of standard features, but a somewhat dated mechanical package. With a very attractive base price compared to the Honda Fit, Kia Spectra5, MAZDA3, Nissan Versa and Toyota Matrix, and backed by a truly outstanding warranty, it offers budget-minded buyers the chance to acquire a practical and reliable new car. However, seizing that opportunity requires accepting a one-trim-fits-all package with performance and handling characteristics that fall behind many of the current segment leaders. Given that the same holds true for its resale value, maximizing your investment in a Reno also means being prepared to live with it for a while.
You'll Like This Car If...
When the words "new" and "budget" both figure prominently in your car-buying equation, the Reno's admirable combination of style, space and standard equipment has an undeniable charm -- particularly when you factor its comprehensive warranty into that mix.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Anyone seeking the leading edge of automotive thought or design will be better served looking elsewhere. A decently executed but decidedly aging basic economy car, the Reno lacks the quickness, agility, fuel efficiency and innovative features offered by many of its newer competitors -- including Suzuki's own and only slightly pricier SX4 and SX4 Sport models.
What's New for 2008
Minor tweaks add steering-wheel audio controls to the Convenience Package and Bluetooth wireless connectivity to the options list while the sunroof gets eliminated from the Reno's already-meager available-extras roster.
Like the Forenza on which it's based, the Reno is at its best when dealing with city traffic and freeway cruising, not challenging twisty back roads. Its suspension tuning puts a far higher priority on ride comfort than on precision control, and ride and noise isolation are commendably good for a car in this class, but those who demand some enthusiastic sportiness won't be finding much of it here. We laud Suzuki for using four-wheel disc brakes on the Reno but would still recommend stepping up to the anti-lock option -- even though that choice also requires purchasing the Convenience Package.
Standard CD/MP3 Player
The Reno's standard four-speaker AM/FM audio system features a single-disc CD player with MP3 playback capability.
Standard Front Side-Impact Airbags
Unlike some pricier vehicles in its class, the Reno's extensive list of standard equipment includes driver and passenger side-impact airbags.
Charcoal and silver define the primary color palette in the Reno's roomy cabin, tastefully intermixing on the dash, door panels and seats. Despite an abundance of hard plastic trim, the overall fits are good, the gauges legible and key controls logically placed and finger-friendly. We think the front seats would benefit from a touch more lateral support, but the 60/40 split-folding rear bench will accommodate a pair of medium-sized adults or three kids. Open the rear hatch and you'll find an 8.8 cubic-foot cargo area, and dropping both rear seatbacks flat will increase that figure to an impressive 45.4 cubic feet.
World-renowned styling house Italdesign penned the Reno's slick sheetmetal, which still looks clean and contemporary as it enters its fifth season. Bright, clear-lens lamps front and rear are a nice complement to its smartly raked roofline, while the back doors are large enough to permit easy access to the Reno's aft quarters. The standard tires are 195/55 all-season on 15-inch steel wheels, but alloy wheels are available from Suzuki dealers as an accessory package.
Notable Standard Equipment
One aspect of the Reno's appeal is its array of standard features. Highlights of that list include power windows, locks and heated mirrors, air conditioning, a tilt steering column, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible sound system, rear-window washer and wiper, height-adjustable driver's seat and dual-stage front and front side-impact airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Convenience Package includes keyless remote entry, cruise control, an alarm system and the opportunity to also purchase anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) as a separate option. The only other extras are an automatic transmission and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
Under the Hood
The Reno's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 127 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. That's sufficient muscle to keep pace with normal traffic but does limit responsiveness with respect to aggressive passing maneuvers. While matching the engine with the five-speed manual transmission rather than the optional four-speed automatic adds a bit more performance, even that modest advantage is hampered by a somewhat balky shift linkage. Arguably the biggest shortcoming here is the engine's lackluster fuel efficiency with either transmission. With EPA ratings of 20/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 19/28 mpg with the automatic, the Reno falls behind nearly every other competitor -- even those with larger and/or more powerful engines -- as well as Suzuki's own new, bigger and more powerful 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), 19/28 (automatic)
With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that starts below $14,500 (under $15,500 when equipped with the automatic transmission) and an exceptional -- and transferable -- overall warranty package (including seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage and even a free courtesy car while the vehicle is in for warranty-related servicing), the Reno offers budget-constrained buyers a viable alternative to some considerably more expensive competitors. But that enticing entry price can be less attractive in the long run, as the Reno falls behind virtually all of its rivals when it comes to maintaining its residual value over time. Be sure to check out the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the Reno.