2011 SX4 New Car Test Drive
The Suzuki SX4 offers a lot of small car for the money. All models are keenly priced, making them worthy candidates for shoppers looking for small cars that are more than just basic transportation.
The lineup features a four-door Sedan, a five-door Crossover, and a new SportBack model.
All Suzuki SX4 models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's new for 2011, now making 150 horsepower and 140 foot-pounds of torque. The Sedan and new SportBack are front-wheel drive only, and the Crossover is all-wheel drive. That feature is mostly what makes the SX4 special.
All-wheel drive makes the SX4 an excellent choice for drivers who want an inexpensive high-mileage crossover with all-weather capability; in fact, it's almost the only choice, with the more costly Nissan Juke being about the only directly comparable vehicle. You can look at a Toyota Matrix or Mini-Cooper Countryman, but they raise the entry fee. The all-wheel-drive system sends up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, giving it better traction in snow and on unpaved roads. The world's top rally cars use all-wheel drive for its superior traction and Suzuki has been running the SX4 in the World Rally Championship, proving it has the right stuff.
The Suzuki SX4 Crossover, a four-door hatchback (also called a five-door), offers cargo versatility and looks like a mini-SUV. (Suzuki sometimes calls this car a Crossover and other times a Hatchback.) The SX4 Sedan offers responsive handling and packs worthwhile features into a tidy package. With just front-wheel drive, the Sedan achieves a small bit better fuel mileage than the awd Crossover's 22/30 mpg with the manual transmission. That's improved for 2011, with the new 2.0-liter engine.
The SportBack is a new model for 2011, and follows the popular European version, with a lower ride height, performance shocks, stabilizer bars, four-wheel disc brakes, and 17-inch alloy rims with wider profile (205/50) all-season tires. That equipment is also available on the Sedan with Sport trim. It offers more precise cornering and a firmer ride. Basically, the new SportBack has the Crossover hatchback body style, with Sedan Sport front-wheel-drive powertrain and suspension, wheels and tires.
The Suzuki SX4 comes mostly well equipped for its low price. A Garmin navigation system with features like weather, airline schedules and Google search is standard, along with halogen headlamps, 60/40 split rear seat, and for 2011, eight airbags. However there's a big exception to its being well-equipped: stability control, although standard with the Crossover and SportBack, is unavailable on the Sedan.
We have nothing but good to say about the SX4 interior. It's clean and simple and easy, but mostly it's all there. The black cloth bucket seats are terrific: they fit for around-town or hard cornering, they're roomy and rugged. Good high seating position, making the car feel less small out on the freeway and up against the big SUVs. Instrumentation is clean and available, knobs and dials few and perfectly ergonomic. Visibility good. Quiet inside. Good cubbies and cupholders. Well-placed driver's left armrest, good door pockets and door handles. Garmin navigation on our Crossover AWD Tech Value neatly popped up out of the dash.
The rear seat in the Crossover and SportBack offers good legroom for a subcompact. The back seat in the Sedan is less roomy, but the trunk is large.
Our Crossover AWD cornered and ran around town like a sports car, with the comfort of an SUV. Its 6-speed gearbox is easy to shift, the clutch easy to use. The new 150 horsepower revs to 6200 rpm (up from 5800 with the previous engine), the 140 foot-pounds of torque makes acceleration smooth. The SX4 is much fun to drive, something that's hard to find in a car of this price, especially one that offers this much capability and versatility.
The 2011 Suzuki SX4 comes in Sedan, Crossover, and SportBack versions, each with a 150-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sedan and SportBack; all-wheel drive is standard on the Crossover.
The SX4 Sedan ($13,499) has six trim levels: Base, LE, Anniversary Edition, Sport, Sport S, and Sport GTS. The Base is truly base, without AC or even a radio. Base comes with cloth upholstery, tilt steering wheel, anti-lock brakes, P195/65R15 tires on steel wheels, and a six-speed manual transmission.
SX4 Sedan LE ($15,195) adds air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, but no cruise control. SX4 Sedan Anniversary Edition ($17,099) comes with a CVT transmission with paddle shifters, and adds rear disc brakes, leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls, heated front seats and mirrors, and cruise control.
SX4 Sedan Sport S ($16,479) features a sport-tuned suspension with P205/50 all-season radial tires on 17-inch alloy wheels; spoilers at front, rear and sides; and keyless entry. It loses the LE's leather steering wheel with controls and cruise control, and goes back to the 6-speed gearbox. SX4 Sedan Sport SE ($17,849) is equipped like the Anniversary Edition, and adds navigation and makes Bluetooth optional. It has the suspension and wheels/tires of the Sport S. SX4 Sedan Sport GTS ($18,999) gets a seven-speaker sound system and automatic climate control, while using the SE's paddle-shifting CVT.
SX4 Crossover comes in Base ($16,999), Premium, and Tech Value. It comes standard with P205/60R16 all-season tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, and has roofrails. The Premium ($18,599) uses the CVT without paddle shifters, and adds the leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls. The Tech Value Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, and foglamps, as well as navigation and paddles to shift the CVT but takes away the roofrails.
SX4 SportBack has the Crossover hatchback body style with Sedan Sport front-wheel-drive powertrain and suspension, wheels and tires. It comes in Base ($16,599) or Tech Value ($18,149), with the CVT optional with either model. The Tech Value has navigation and a larger rear spoiler.
Safety features standard on all Suzuki SX4 modes include eight airbags: front driver and passenger airbags, torso-protecting driver and passenger side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and rear seat side airbags. Also standard are a tire-pressure monitor and LATCH child seat anchors. Electronic stability control with traction control is standard on the Crossover and SportBack, but unavailable on the Sedan. All-wheel drive is available on some models.