By KBB.com Editors
The SX4, a brand new model from Suzuki, joins a small group of all-wheel-drive hatchbacks favored by young buyers who want a low-end, compact-sized carry-all. A friendly little car with a distinctive design, the SX4 fits nicely into the economy-plus-power niche that the budget-conscious buyer seeks. Suzuki predicts huge growth in the compact five-door hatchback market in deference to fuel prices and the decline of large SUVs. With an engine designed by General Motors and built in Japan, the SX4 is assembled in Hungary, handy production locations for a model that Suzuki plans to sell as a world car. Sales of the carmaker's entire lineup have soared over the last two years, with Suzuki increasingly recognized as a reputable, reliable maker of market-driven, inexpensive models.
You'll like this car for its tough-enough-to-take-on-a-truck attitude, reasonable price and standard "intelligent" three-mode all-wheel-drive (i-AWD) system that switches to two-wheel drive for fuel economy. Flexible seating folds down to increase cargo space. And if small and affordable are your goals, the SX4 serves them up with panache.
A carload of character is designed into the sturdy stance and exterior. The wedge-shaped body gives an appearance of forward readiness with a sloping nose and raked windshield. The rear doors extend to the height of the roof and over the rear wheels for maximum ease of entry and exit. The distinctive wrap-around hatch window affords excellent visibility, and rear lights placed halfway up the tailgate mean those in road monsters can see the SX4's brake lights easily. Although they don't open, the small pyramid-shaped glass inserts mounted forward of the front windows and bordered in black add pizzazz. Built-in roof rails can carry bicycle racks.
The least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle on the market, the cheery SX4 is a sport (S) crossover (X) that fuses function with a sense of fun. Suzuki has built its smallest vehicle as a precocious pup of a hatchback with a terrific all-wheel-drive system and a powertrain that can best most comers.
Driving Impressions The SX4 Sport is one nimble little car. The rigid steel body, wide track and fine-tuned chassis deliver efficient stability, responsive handling and minimal body roll, although the dual grab...handles might tempt front-seat riders to reach up and use them at speed. Crisp response from the strong 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission, and the hatchback's tidy size and low weight, combine to encourage enthusiastic driving, even for commuters. The well-designed and highly-tuned front and rear suspension provides a stable, comfortable ride.
The star of the show is the i-AWD, whose console-mounted switch is just itching to be turned to one of three modes: Two-wheel drive for maximum fuel economy on decent, dry roads; Auto, to control the ratio of power sent to the rear wheels; and Lock mode, for increased traction in snow or mud. The Lock mode is automatically cancelled above 36 miles per hour.
Flip the rear seat down and a cavernous 54 cubic feet of cargo space is available. Coupled with a very wide opening through the fifth door, the trunk area can store bulky items.
At first glance, the interior appears similar to its competitors, until the split rear seatbacks are folded down to reveal an expanse of cargo space that can swallow a couple of boogie boards through the yawning hatch door. The SX4 offers reasonably comfortable room for five passengersif the rear middle rider is slim. An obviously plastic vertical panel runs down the center of the dash and holds the radio, air conditioning, i-AWD and other control buttons and switches, with extra tabs on the steering wheel. The seating and interior trim are prosaic but the intrinsic beauty of the SX4 is found in its practicality, performance and price.
Better-equipped than many compacts in its price range, the SX4's crown jewel is the easy-to-use i-AWD system. Other major features include an exceptional array of safety equipment, with six airbags for side impact, front and side-curtain protection. Also in the package are four-wheel drive anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic braking distribution, power windows and locks, air conditioning, AM/FM/MP3/CD audio system, remote entry and tilt wheel. The Sport model adds electronic stability with traction control to assist with front or rear wheel slip, cruise control, power heated mirrors, climate control and a six-disc CD changer audio system.
Do nine speakers and a subwoofer do it for you? They're an option on both models, as is the four-speed automatic transmission. With so much equipment already standard, options for the SX4 are limited to cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated stereo controls, which is also part of the standard equipment for the Sport model.
Few cars of this size and price house a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 143-horsepower engine (the Fit's horsepower is 109, the xA is 103 and the Versa is 122). Matched to the five-speed manual transmission or the specially-tuned four-speed automatic, which probably will far outsell the manual in the U.S., the SX4's engine and gearbox are exceptionally compatible.
2.0-liter in-line 4
143 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/29 (manual), 24/30 (automatic)
By jffl82 (PA) on Monday, December 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas milage, good city car"
Cons: "terrible control in wet and snowy roads"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased one used less then a week ago. The Tire pressure monitor was on they said that it was fixed when I took it and that the light would go out. It didn't. The traction control system make a boom when it kicks in. I followed the plow truck out the road and spun tire the entire way with the AWD system engaged. also AWD system handling is terrible. I have driven many trucks and SUV's in my life and none have been this bad on back roads."
By BMW-bound (FL) on Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependable, fits into small spaces"
Cons: "Over pri$ed, POOR gas mileage, NOT sexy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My car gets about 24mpg "pitiful", the brakes have been replaced twice, the 1st time I paid the dealership over $300.00 but the second time the dealership replaced them with "no charge" because I already OVER PAID to purchase it. I think this car should have been priced at 9,999.00 so I'm glad to hear that the US will not be selling it anymore. It's precise, quick and it start-up EVERY time I'm ready to go. I may give it to my teenager because it's reliable, doesn't have too many blind spots and it's not intimidating but the gas mileage is disappointing. I've read the reviews on the good, bad and the ugly and I don't believe this car can handle 100k miles like my past Toyotas' did, therefore I shall trade it in for a Mini."
By cliffy (ME) on Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,891overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas miledge ,great price ,dependability,goes"
Cons: "a little small inside but my 6 ft 300 pound frame"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The suzuki SX4 that I have owned for over 5 years is one of the best vehicles I have ever owned! I lock the diferentials(4 lock mode ) and goplaces that full blown mud trucks cannot handle ,I have installed a rocky roads 2 inch lift ,a full front skid plate and a rear differentials 3/8 aluminum skid plate,with the g-force fuel chip I installed I get over 26 miles a gallon around town and 34 highway ,the stock jeep cherokee rims fit right on and give me a larger assortment of tire sizes to choose from , Everyone like my little suzi-q and are always betting against the cars abilities I have not lost a bet on what this car can do !(but I judge the car criticacly and willonly be pushed so far )"
By ColoradoFoothillsDriver (CO) on Friday, October 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great VALUE - inexpensive AWD w/a GOOD warranty."
Cons: "Small, fairly low ground-clearance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Commuted 50 miles 1-way through the Colorado foothills for over 4 years. No breakdowns and I never got stuck in any snowstorms. I drove a Subaru Legacy for many years before I got the Suzuki. The Subaru's got higher ground clearance and a longer per-tank range *but* it would have cost me $10k+ more to get another one than what I paid for the Suzuki. The Suzuki was a tremendous value. Handled as well as the Subaru in light snow. I had to replace the engine in the *subaru* at 65k miles (under the *extended* warranty I bought). The Suzuki came w/a 4 yr/100k powertrain warranty standard, so not only was it less expensive but the better warranty massively improved the value. At the time I bought it, the Suzuki was a "settle for" car because I couldn't afford another subaru. After 5 years and a single check-engine light (related to a loose gas-cap) it was really one of the best purchasing decisions I've made in my life."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By goodone (WV) on Sunday, October 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "excelent on gas"
Cons: "no console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Cheep car. Great on gas. Small for a heaver persons or more then 3 to 4 people for comfort. Handles well. Not enough storage in car, Exp. missing console area. The car has a hard start/no start at times and odors from engine along with other ongoing issues that should be taken care of that are safety hazards. Not recommended. The car needs recalled and pulled off road."
By PC (MI) on Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: cost/time to repair - My approximate mileage is 90,000
Pros: "Fun, unique, loved the style of it"
Cons: "Very $$$ repairs, rotten mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"My SX4 was one of the most fun cars I've ever owned, shed a tear when I traded it in actually. But that's not saying it was a great car. It was fun to toss around, very spirited, but the mileage was poor (22-24 at best) and with such a small tank, my 120-mile commute to work had me at the gas station every other day. No troubles until it neared 50k, then the AC quit. Had continual issues with check engine light, catalytic convertor and more. Car would stall with no warning. When the transmission started getting hinky I'd had enough. So few were on the road that repairs were very high ($1400+ for a refurbished AC compressor alone!) and basically all would require a looong wait as parts were infrequently shipped on a slow boat from Japan. I thought I'd keep this car forever but the bad ultimately overtook the good. Best car I've ever driven in bad weather, especially snow. This thing goes like a billy goat and fills you with a sense of security. Many times during my freeway commute I'd regularly see all sizes of cars off the road, stuck or in the ditch as Zippy and I kept on going. My golf clubs fit sideways with 1/4" to spare, but they did fit. This car had a lot of character, a fun spirit, but it was not economical in any way."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful