• Sep 19, 2009

2009 Suzuki Palette SW - Click above for image gallery

You're Japanese. You have a family. You need a minivan. But minivans are freaking huge, Japan's streets are crowded, and you want something that's a lot smaller and can dart between lumbering dekotora lit up like Vegas. So, you look to a kei minivan because it's teeny tiny. Suzuki's got your back with the Palette, the micro-mini minivan it introduced back in early 2008. It's totally neat in that way all Japanese kei cars are, as its compact size belies interior storage capacity capable of swallowing up literally hundreds of packs of Dentyne, several vintage Super Famicoms, and that box of priceless Chevy Astro brochures you overpaid some American pack rat for on eBay.

One problem: the regular-edition Palette's a bit vanilla to look at. Suzuki has apparently gotten the memo and spiced things up in the traditional manner: a new fascia and more letters in the nomenclature. Hence, we have the Palette SW, which wears a more mischievous anime face, as apposed to the docile-looking, doe-eyed standard grade Suzuki Palette. The other change introduced with the SW is a two-stage CVT that allows drivers to manually select lower or higher pre-programmed gear ratios to place an emphasis on either better acceleration or improved fuel economy. That way, they can wring out every last bit of punch or efficiency the little juice box on wheels can offer.



[Source: Suzuki (translated)]




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Whoa - how much space does this thing have - look at the leg room in the back. And I love the way the front seats fold to make that long flat loading area. Really don't need a big SUV for 80-90% of your moving needs, if you have something like this.

      Of course, the vitriol on this board is understandable. If you have never left your little backyard and seen how the rest of the world lives, you are not likely to understand the customer needs in that part of the world. But fear not - the chances of seeing this in the US are as good as the chances of finding diversity in an Abercrombie catalog (Stewie's words, not mine)!!

      Suzuki though seems to be on a roll - not in the US, but in the rest of the world that is - they must be doing something right, now that even might VW wants in with them. And whatever anyone says, I believe that the world's future is in small cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Whenever I am in India, I cannot help but notice that Suzuki is cleaning up there. And with the Indian middle class now being greater than the entire population of the Uninety States of These Here Americas, maybe they will do ok even if some of us don't like their efforts. Just sayin'
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like how the front passenger seat folds, Ford/Mazda have you seen this for the C-Max and 5?
        • 5 Years Ago
        People do use their kei cars as a place to sleep.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I actually wouldn't mind having one of these kei platformed cars as just mostly a city car. It's definitely a lot more roomy and easier on the eyes than a Smart Fourtwo. I have driven a Proton Juara when I was in Malaysia. As Smegley has mentioned, even though these vehicles are a bit "gutless" it was none the less still a fun vehicle to drive. the Juara was a perfect vehicle to transport my small group of friends in a vehicle that was quite easy to get in, get out of, and park in tiny places.
      • 5 Years Ago
      SW stands for Smiling Wide?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you suggesting Suzuki copied Mazda?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "You guys know how ugly that Scion is? Let's make it uglier!"

      Looks like it would roll around the first corner it took... :/
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sean, kei cars have existed for ages longer than the Scion marque, and are actually quite a lot smaller, as stated by others here. They are in an entirely different class of vehicles than the JDM versions of the xA, xB, and xD, and must meet strict size and emissions requirements. This kind of two-box design setup is quite common among similar vehicles in Japan, but the Palette is arguably one of the better executed versions.

        You might actually argue that the idea for the original Toyota bB (which later became the Scion xB in the US) actually came from the first kei-car vans similar to this one that have been on sale in years in Japan.

        So you see, there is the relevance. You've actually gotten it backwards! The kei car came first.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd take this any day over a...Crosstour.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Kei cars are sub-sub-compact cars/trucks/vans. It's a category with strictly enforced limits. Currently they are limited to 3.4 x 1.48 x 2.0 meters (length x width x height) and a max output of 63hp. Pathetic, but manufacturers try to maximize the amount of volume they can encapsulate within those limits. In this category, function > form. Although you can still have some like the Suzuki Cappuccino.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Objection, relevance?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Someone's unfamiliar with Kei cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Whoa, I did NOT imply that it would roll because of speed. From the picture it looks like it has a very high center of gravity.

        But hey, thanks for assuming that I'm some idiot who thinks everyone takes corners at the 3x the speed I do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If by "ugly", you mean amazingly practical, then I agree!
      blue3874
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who's bright idea was it to put a white car on white background?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Different strokes, different folks". Thank God I don't live in Tokyo. I think the Scion Xb is ok. I like the new Kia Sole better. I just bought a new Ford Escape for the wife. Better yet, plus peace in the home. Ahhhhh, serenity. Hey, didn't these guys kill a lot of us back in the 40's?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Alright guys, this is how they do it in Japan. Take what we would perceive as normal, pull it up, push the ends closer in, and put 12" wheels and tires on it. Great success (sarcasm).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you sure those are 12s? I'm thinkin' they're a lot closer to 10s.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can I get one keyless. Sorry......
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't wait until boxes on wheels become passe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      horribly, ugly vehicle... kill it with fire (and brimstone).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kei's actually are pretty solid around the corners... Japanese roads are a lot less straight than North America's, and the bulk of the weight in these things is pretty low. Honda Fits look pretty tall too, yet they can out slalom a lot of "sports" cars.
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