2012 Kizashi New Car Test Drive
The Suzuki Kizashi line of sporty sedans compete well against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, and Mazda 6. Kizashi ranked tops in the 2012 J.D. Power & Associates APEAL study. It was judged Best Sedan in AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. And we liked it, as well.
All-wheel drive is available, giving the Kizashi good all-weather capability. Called i-AWD, it's a sophisticated system that can be turned on and off so that you can use front-wheel drive on dry pavement for better fuel efficiency.
All Suzuki Kizashi models come with a sporty 2.4-liter aluminum four-cylinder with variable valve timing that makes 185 or 180 horsepower, depending on whether it's mated to the 6-speed manual transmission or Continuously Variable Transaxle. The CVT operates automatically or can be shifted through six steps using paddles on the steering wheel.
Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 23/31 mpg City/Highway when equipped with front-wheel drive and the CVT, or 23/30 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The balance between ride quality and handling is excellent. The MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspensions deliver good handling for hard driving, including on a race track, and a nicely damped ride over rough roads. Much of the credit for this balance goes to the rigid chassis. The brakes we found to be pitch perfect, also.
Kizashi looks elegant and sporty, with lovely lines that look a bit like Audi and Lexus. No overachieving swoops or flares, no gratuitous chrome trying to grab your attention. The Kizashi GTS and Kizashi SLS feature special Sport bodywork, including a more muscular front fascia and lower grille, side sill extensions, spoiler on the trunk lid, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The crossed mesh grille is titanium colored.
Interior materials are high quality, especially the sport seats that come standard. The layout of the controls and instruments is clean. These cars come well equipped, including climate control vents for the rear seat. Sport models get special steering wheels, and the SLS Sport gets contrasting stitching on its leather seats.
Kizashi comes with no less than eight airbags. Advanced stability control using the ABS comes standard. Suzuki says the Kizashi has surpassed the federal government's 2014 standards for side pole impact and offset front collision.
The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi comes in four models, Kizashi S, SE, GTS Sport, and SLS Sport, all of which use the same 2.4-liter engine.
Kizashi S ($18,999) comes with auto dual-zone climate control with rear seat vents, cloth upholstery, sport seats, fold-down pass-through rear seat, projector beam headlamps, keyless pushbutton start, ambient footwell lighting, power locks, power windows, power mirrors, illuminated visor mirror, intermittent wipers, security system, 16-inch steel wheels, and pre-wiring for seven-speaker audio, but no actual radio. Kizashi S is available with a 6-speed manual or CVT ($20,999); the latter adds cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a seven-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel audio controls. XM Satellite Radio can be added as a dealer accessory. Kizashi S is also available with all-wheel drive and the CVT ($22,349); that combination adds heated outside mirrors.
Kizashi SE ($22,299) comes only with the CVT and adds 10-way power driver's seat with three memory positions; leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake lever; paddle shifters; cruise control; a USB port; and wide-profile 18-inch tires on alloy wheels. Kizashi SE is available with AWD ($23,649). New for both SE models is a leather-upholstery option ($1600) includes heat and power adjustment for both front seats.
Kizashi Sport GTS ($22,249) features sporty body work, including a muscular front fascia and lower grille, body side sill extensions, trunk spoiler, silver-accented steering wheel, sport bumpers, fancy 18-inch alloy wheels and a lowered, sport-tuned suspension. The GTS also adds fog lights and a 10 speakers, 425-watt Rockford Fosgate system with iPod connectivity (replacing the USB port). The GTS 6-speed manual model drops the power driver's seat to reduce weight and cost. The GTS with CVT ($24,399) and CVT AWD ($25,749) get back the 10-way power driver's seat and add a moonroof, too. Bluetooth phone connectivity with steering-wheel controls is optional ($250).
Kizashi Sport SLS ($25,099) upgrades with leather upholstery with contrasting stitching, heated seats, power passenger seat, heated mirrors, auto headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensor, HomeLink garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, and Bluetooth phone equipment. The SLS offers a choice of 6-speed manual, CVT ($26,199), or CVT AWD ($27,549). XM Satellite Radio ($350) becomes a factory option, along with a navigation system ($1,399) that includes a rearview camera.
Safety equipment includes eight airbags: two frontal, two side curtain, and one for each door. Active safety features include antilock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control, electronic brake-force distribution. The government-mandated tire monitor is there, also. Suzuki says the Kizashi already meets some of the 2014 crash standards, including side pole crash and front offset collision. More than 100 Kizashis were crashed by Suzuki during testing. Optional all-wheel drive can enhance safety in slippery conditions. The basic warranty is 3 years or 36,000 miles, but the powertrain is covered for 7 years or 100,000 miles.
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