By KBB.com Editors
Suzuki looks to 2007 as its most significant year in the US, introducing two timely new vehicles, including the XL7, and celebrating a 2006 sales increase of 77 percent since 2003. Creating its first midsize crossover by redesigning and reengineering last year's flagship XL-7 SUV (and dropping the hyphen), Suzuki debuts the XL7 as a brand-new mainstream model. Crossovers, built on car-like unibodies, are outstripping SUVs in popularity and the streamlined XL7 Limited joins the crossover segment as a modern, style-conscious seven-passenger version with optional all-wheel drive and the advantage of excellent fuel economy. Two other models, Base and Luxury, round out buyer choices.You'll Like This Car If...
You'll like this car if you enjoy a mobile lifestyle, want flexible seating, need plenty of horsepower and torque for towing jet skis or what-have-you and don't want to break the family budget. For weekend off-roaders who find gravel roads exhilarating, the XL7 Limited's intelligent-all-wheel-drive (i-AWD) delivers power to all four wheels full-time.You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like this crossover if complete rear visibility is important for backing up or checking rear traffic during lane changes. With even two rear seating positions occupied, let alone all five, there is a limited view through the tailgate's full-width but shallow back window due to obstructions by adult passengers' heads and shoulders.What's New for 2007
The largest and most powerful vehicle Suzuki has ever sold, the XL7 has borrowed its predecessor's name but is new from the frame up. On sale in September, Suzuki claims it will be the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicle on the market.Driving It Driving Impressions
The sedan-like quality of driving the XL7 is evident from the start, and it's easy to forget there is space for six passengers. Steering is responsive even on unpaved roads. During a patch of severe washboards there was, naturally, some vibration but the XL7 Limited ran straight and sure, thanks in part to the self-leveling rear shock absorbers. The handling is easy and precise in the 4,000-pound crossover, with minimal body lean, and braking is strong and instant. When needed, the transmission provided prompt upshifts. The Manumatic, which allows the driver to manually gear up or down on steep hill climbs and ascents by tapping the shifter, is an excellent, easily-operated assist system. Despite its size and heft, the XL7 provides a quiet ride with barely discernable wind noise. The all-wheel-drive system in its three modestwo-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and all-wheel-drive Locktested out effortlessly.Favorite Features
Cool weather means cold seats, but from a distance of 200 yards they can be warmed up in advance using the XL7's remote entry, which automatically kicks in the heat when the outside temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Automatic transmissions are way ahead of manuals in popularity but, when you want to have some fun, shifting with the Manumatic provides a sense of control and, on downhill runs, it can save brake wear, as well.
As plush as its price allows, the interior is upscale, entry-level luxury. Spacious, comfortable second-row seats recline and flip down. The third row in the Luxury and Limited editions folds flat to provide extra cargo space, as does the front passenger seat. Tall passengers will appreciate the headroom, but riders in the third row will find the legroom restrictive. For road warriors, the four 12-volt power outlets provide juice for electronic devices and the cockpit-style dash is compact and friendly. Door openings are wide, even for entering the third row. Fully equipped, with a functional cabin to suit most needs, the XL7 offers three trim levels that are available in both five and seven-passenger versions. Very little road noise disturbs riders, although a louder turn signal would better remind drivers to turn it off when no longer needed.Exterior
Conforming to today's typical styling combination of SUV and wagon, the sleek XL7 has a balanced exterior with triangular headlamps as its most noticeable feature. Clean lines, with a nod to macho via muscular wheel arches, identify the XL7 with the mid-size crossover segment. Integrated roof racks, a hi-rise tailgate and a dignified rather than an in-your-face grille add up to an attractive vehicle.Notable Standard Equipment
An emphasis on protective features defines the front-wheel-drive XL7 as a vehicle for 35- to 45-year olds who are concerned about family safety. Front and side-curtain airbags for all rows lead the list, along with electronic stability/traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, rollover sensor and disc brakes. All of the bells and whistles are already on board, including air conditioning, automatic transmission with Manumatic shift, remote entry, cruise control and four 12-volt outlets. On the models with three rows of seats, self-leveling suspension and rear air conditioning are standard.Notable Optional Equipment
Worrying over options for Suzuki's XL7 is cut to the minimum. In fact, the base model's only option is all-wheel drive (available on all trim levels), since it is already loaded with a long list of standard features. Luxury model options supply music lovers and map readers with DVD entertainment, a sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels. Moving up to the flagship Limited version, Suzuki adds on a touring package that includes a touchscreen navigation system.Under the Hood
The engine on all three models is a 3.6-liter V6 designed by General Motors and built by Suzuki in Japan, matched to a five-speed automatic/Manumatic transmission that provides all the driving modes most drivers will ever need. One liter larger than its predecessor, the bigger and more powerful engine nevertheless delivers equal or better fuel economy.
252 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
243 lb.-ft. torque @ 2300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (2WD), 17/23 (AWD)
Billed as value-laden and the lowest-priced all-wheel drive vehicle available, the XL7 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $23,500 for the base model and under $30,500 for the top model, the Limited. Fair Purchase Prices showing what consumers are actually paying can differ substantially, so click on Fair Purchase Prices to compare. Closest competitors, all with less horsepower than the XL7, include the Toyota Highlander, whose warranty is three years/36,000 miles, compared to the XL7's warranty of seven years/100,000 miles, and the Honda Pilot, which is considerably more expensive. Hyundai's Santa Fe almost matches the XL7's price tag but beats its fuel economy (at least on paper) by offering a manual transmission as standard equipment.