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 If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2007
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
Suzuki has chosen to debut its all-wheel-drive SX4 at a low enough price to attract anyone shopping for a small, fuel-efficient five-door. The base SX4 model has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $15,000. The Sport starts around $16,500. A close competitor is Nissan's Versa, at less than $13,000, but its engine is much smaller, with less horsepower, and all-wheel drive is not available. Other key hatchback players include the Honda Fit subcompact, priced at $13,850, and the Scion xA, at $13,320, neither of which offer all-wheel drive. Fair Purchase Prices that represent prices consumers are actually paying can differ substantially, so click on Fair Purchase Prices to compare.