KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
- Updated Date: 3/16/2009
You'll Like This Car If...
Best known in America for its small, rugged SUVs, Suzuki is steadily cultivating a new image, one that centers around small, fuel efficient cars. Leading the charge is the 2009 SX4
Sedan, which arrives in both base guise and in a well-appointed Sport trim. Like the SX4
crossover, this four-door
sedan shares basic chassis and mechanical bits with the Suzuki Swift, a well-respected player in European and Asian markets. Despite the SX4 nomenclature originated by its all-wheel-drive cousin, the Sedan is strictly front-drive – at least for now. It's also nearly 15 inches longer than the
hatchback version, most of that stretch to accommodate its formal trunk. A step-up replacement for the old Aerio, the SX4 Sedan gives Suzuki an affordable compact entry that's far more youthful and fun-to-drive than either its existing Forenza or Reno.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Those with slight nonconformist leanings who need a practical daily transporter but also want a serious dose of driving fun – and demand it all at an attractive price – will be impressed with the attributes of the
2009 Suzuki SX4.
What's New for 2009
Drivers whose tastes run more towards hard-line performance – particularly with a Teutonic flavor – or who prefer more aggressive styling might be better off considering something slightly pricier, like a
Honda Civic Si, MAZDA3 or VW Jetta 2.5/GLI.
2009 Suzuki SX4 Sport receives a built-in Garmin navigation unit as standard equipment, a first for a car in this price range. Also new is a lower-priced base Sedan and additional content added to the Sport's Touring package.
Although it still ranks higher in practicality than in pure exhilaration, the SX4 Sport is a nicely balanced package with dynamic character that goes well beyond the original SX4 crossover. With less weight to move and only two wheels to drive, the engine shows even greater enthusiasm here, but acceleration is definitely more spirited when it's paired with the standard manual gearbox. The biggest difference, however, is in the suspension tuning, which is commendably crisp without being unduly harsh. While the SX4's basic MacPherson strut and torsion beam design carries over, the Sport's more rigid body structure, lower ride height, upgraded shock absorbers and low-profile Dunlop tires on 17-inch alloy wheels (the Crossover rides on 16-inchers) impart an entirely different temperament to the vehicle. Toss in communicative power steering and capable four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and the SX4 Sport reacts confidently to driver inputs, even without the optional traction and stability controls.
Crisp suspension tuning coupled with decently grippy low-profile tires on the largest wheels in the segment help the SX4 Sport live up to its name when the roads get twisty.
The SX4's large glass area complemented by front quarter windows and oversize outside mirrors provides the driver with exceptionally good front, side and rear sightlines.
Nicely finished and appointed, the SX4's cabin offers generous passenger space in both front and rear quarters. Much is shared with the SX4 crossover, including the dash and door panels, intuitively-positioned switchgear and an abundance of hard plastic surfaces. One key difference: The Sport trim's front bucket seats feature more prominent bolstering and merit high marks for both lateral support and long-range comfort. The SX4's aft quarters possess sufficient head and leg room for two average-sized adults, but three-across occupancy is definitely a kids-only proposition. A new split folding rear seat replacing last year's fixed seatback allows access to the 15.0 cubic feet of trunk capacity.
Notable Standard Equipment
Suzuki claims the SX4's front-end was inspired by a traditional Japanese Kabuki mask but, beyond a few bolder creases in its unique soft fascia and revamped grille openings, the headlights, hood and fenders are all identical to the SX4 crossover. The Sedan has an arched roofline and relatively large glass area that help create a roomier cabin and afford exceptional outward visibility. Pronounced fender flares accentuate the Sport's standard body kit (front and rear valence panel extensions and tasteful side sills), while additional visual and functional enhancement is provided by largest-in-class 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 205/50 all-season tires.
Notable Optional Equipment
An economical daily commuter with legitimate enthusiast overtones, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 LE Sedan's extensive creature-comforts roster starts with air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, tilt steering column and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. The Sport trim adds GPS navigation, the Aero package, keyless entry and 17-inch wheels. Both trims share the same mechanical highlights including four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, a 143-horsepower engine and a five-speed manual transmission. The warranty is equally noteworthy. Basic bumper-to-bumper numbers are an industry-average three years/36,000 miles, but Suzuki also includes a free loaner car and covers pricy powertrain elements with a seven-year/100,000-mile zero-deductible blanket that's fully transferable.
Under the Hood
The SX4 Sport offers two key upgrade groups that can be added singly or in combination. The Technology Package brings fog lamps, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio, and cruise control buttons and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. The Touring Package adds traction and stability controls, automatic climate controls, heated side mirrors, Smart Pass keyless remote locking and starting, and a nine-speaker upgraded audio system with six-disc CD changer. Prime single options include a four-speed automatic transmission, integrated iPod adapter and dealer-installed XM Satellite Radio.
All 2009 Suzuki SX4 Sedans share the same 2.0-liter DOHC all-aluminum in-line four-cylinder used in the SX4 crossover. Here, too, the engine makes a solid 143 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque and is fitted with a variable-runner intake manifold that helps broaden both those output curves. Because of the more performance-oriented gear and axle ratios used in cars equipped with the standard five-speed manual transmission, an SX4 Sport with the optional four-speed automatic actually earns slightly better EPA fuel economy numbers. In either case, the SX4 Sport's front-drive-only configuration helps trim well over 100 pounds off its curb weight compared to the crossover, a factor that significantly improves acceleration.
2.0-liter in-line 4
143 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 22/30 (automatic), 22/30 (base, LE, manual), 23/31 (base, LE, automatic)
Value-emphasis marketing has long been a Suzuki hallmark and the 2009 SX4 is no exception. With its base price-plus-destination starting around $14,000, and a fully-loaded Sport starting around $20,000, the car holds roughly a $1,000-$2,000 advantage over similarly-equipped competitors, including the Honda Civic LX, MAZDA3i Touring and
Nissan Sentra 2.0 S. However, while Suzuki's residual numbers continue to edge upwards, the SX4 is still likely to trail all three when it comes to retained value over time. Its current one-trim-fits-all approach also prevents the SX4 Sport from taking on more serious performance variants like the Civic Si, MAZDA3, Nissan Sentra SE-R or VW Jetta GLI.