Monday, January 28, 2008

2008 Suzuki SX4 Crossover Review

2008 Suzuki SX4 Crossover

Introduced for 2007, the five-door Suzuki SX4 Crossover was Suzuki’s solution to the need for a functional, versatile, feature-packed entry vehicle with a serious dose of attitude. While being the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicle in America, it was stylish, and very cool. It immediately caught the press’ attention: awards and kudos poured in, including Autobytel’s “Best Kept Secret of 2007” award.

The Suzuki SX4 Crossover is a versatile vehicle that packs a lot of value into a small package. It's currently the cheapest AWD vehicle you can buy, and it's one of the few in its class with available stability control. But it's not perfect, and if you don't need AWD, you may be better satisfied elsewhere. Despite its drawbacks, Suzuki has created a memorable, desirable CUV with the SX4.

The SX4 Crossover was selected as one of five vehicles in the economy priced category for Ward’s AutoWorld “Ward’s Interior of the Year” thanks to its ideal balance of bold and refined elements. A functional and high-tech center panel offers large, circular controls flanked by modern aluminum-colored trim. Instruments and controls seem to float as they are backlit by contemporary, high-tech red lighting, and the ergonomic design of the instrument cluster and dashboard provides -more- clear views of the meters and easy access to the controls for a true driver-oriented cabin. The sporty cockpit theme extends throughout the cabin with a dark interior featuring black cloth for a look both sharp and refined.

The transmission has been tweaked for improved fuel efficiency. A rear spoiler is now available, as are Bluetooth and sport pedals. Three trims are available: base, Convenience, and Touring.

J.D. Power information is not available. The only reported major problem so far is deactivated sensors leading to a low tire pressure warning. No recalls have been issued. Expect average to above average reliability. The basic warranty lasts for three years or 36,000 miles.

The SX4 earned 4 stars in government frontal crash tests and 4.5 stars in side tests. IIHS scores are not available. Anti-lock brakes, front side airbags and full side head airbags come standard. The Touring includes stability and traction control.

The SX4 Crossover exterior expresses a bold attitude that appeals to younger buyers seeking something different from the ordinary small car. In concert with Italian design house Italdesign, and to fuse the vitality of sport utility vehicles with the elegance of passenger cars, Suzuki created a handsome, versatile car that delivers a poise and attitude far beyond the SX4 Crossover’s compact size. The SX4 Crossover’s cool factor was backed up by sharp design and lots of content, so Kelley Blue Book included it in its 2007 list of “Top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000.”

The Dodge Caliber costs a bit less and has more cargo space, but lacks ABS, AWD, power accessories and air conditioning. The Kia Rio5 costs over a thousand less and gets up to six more miles per gallon, but lacks ABS, power accessories, AWD and has 30 less hp. The Scion xD has much less cargo room, but gets better fuel mileage.

The SX4 Crossover, now in its sophomore year, features a handsome five-door hatchback design, sophisticated standard all-wheel-drive system, excellent stability and crisp handling characteristics. The eye-catching vehicle combines numerous amenities with capable handling and a long list of safety features to offer a high level of functionality. The 2008 model gets a revised fifth gear ratio on the manual transmission model for improved fuel economy and NVH, new colors and an available rear spoiler. New sport pedals and Bluetooth1 connectivity are available as accessories. Starting at $15,270, the SX4 Crossover is the most affordable.

The SX4 Crossover features a rigid steel unibody and well-managed chassis, fine-tuned in Europe to provide good stability on the highway along with crisp, responsive handling, precise braking and minimal body roll. High body rigidity and reinforced suspension mounts allow the front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension to work to their full potential. The standard combination of a wide track and a large 16-inch wheel and tire package make the ride even more composed. The SX4 also features large four-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment. The five-door SX4 Crossover also forms the basis for Suzuki’s World Rally Championship (WRC) effort. Trials for the WRC are taking place during the 2007 season with a full schedule in 2008.

Engineered from concept to be all-wheel-drive capable while still delivering dynamic performance, the SX4 Crossover features Suzuki’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system (i-AWD), controlled by an electronic control coupling device mounted in front of the rear differential. The in-console switch allows the driver to choose the mode that best suits the driving situation. The 2WD mode dedicates power to the front wheels for optimum fuel economy in high traction conditions. In AWD Auto mode, up to 50 percent of torque is automatically apportioned to the rear wheels – without driver input – when pronounced front wheel slippage occurs to provide four-wheel traction and help enhance stability. The AWD Lock setting sends between 30 percent and 50 percent of power as needed to the rear wheels for optimum traction in slippery conditions. At speeds above 36 mph, the system switches automatically to AWD Auto mode for smooth cruising.

The SX4 Crossover offers customers an extensive array of standard safety features; notably, ‘peace of mind’ may be the most important. That is one reason why listed it as one of the top ten cars for students. Active safety features include daytime running lights, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Electronic Stability Program (ESP)2, including traction control is standard on the SX4 Crossover with Touring Package. The ESP system uses a variety of electronic sensors to measure vehicle speed, steering wheel angle and yaw faster than a typical driver. This information is sent to a central controller that can intervene as needed.

Under certain conditions, such as when unintended oversteer or understeer is detected, the system can apply individual brakes and reduce engine torque to help the driver maintain the proper cornering line. Together with the traction control system, ESP helps ensure vehicle stability when cornering, under acceleration, during emergency maneuvers and/or when driving on slippery road surfaces.

Passive safety features include a safety-reinforced body with front and rear crumple zones designed to help absorb impact energy. The unibody structure is designed to direct the impact energy away from the reinforced cabin area. Six airbags are standard on the SX4 Crossover: driver and front passenger advanced frontal airbags and side-impact airbags; and side curtain airbags designed to help provide additional protection for outboard front- and rear-seat passengers. In addition, it is fitted with front three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, three-point emergency locking retractor rear seat belts, ISO FIX-compliant child seat anchors, LATCH system (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children) and a high-mounted stop lamp.

The body features a low, rising waistline and triangular-shaped windows forward of the A-pillar, gracing the SX4 Crossover with a sporty wedge shape indicative of its outstanding dynamic performance. The front and rear silver bumper cover plates, black fender flare moldings, roof rails, wide track and strong fender design also add to the appearance of traction and dynamic performance. The exterior dimensions provide outstanding maneuverability for crowded city streets and parking areas. The design is pure Suzuki – exciting, multi-dimensional and playful.

The attractive center stack contains a standard AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with four speakers or a six-disc in-dash CD AM/FM/MP3 audio system with nine speakers, including subwoofer (Touring trim). Both audio systems are XM Satellite Radio-capable. Customers who want the convenience of a fully integrated iPod3 system can purchase an iPod interface from their Suzuki dealers. Once the device is plugged in, it works seamlessly through the radio – or the steering-wheel-integrated controls – and playlists and each song’s information appear on the audio display.

With seating for five, the SX4 Crossover offers both utility and style. The efficient interior dimensions provide comfort for both driver and passengers, and offer generous legroom and shoulder room, even for the rear-seat passengers. The SX4 Crossover’s 90.0 cubic feet of interior space is comparable to that of the Subaru Impreza wagon and Audi A3. The SX4 Crossover also features wide door openings for ease of entry and egress, and theater-style seating for the rear passengers.

Practical rear 60/40 split-folding seats allow for stowage of longer items. The second-row seats also can tumble forward for maximum cargo carrying ability. Luggage room is 16 cubic feet and increases to 43 cubic feet with the rear seats folded forward. Additionally, there are many discreet storage compartments located throughout the cabin, and all the doors feature large pockets and bottle holders for added convenience.

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