The Suzuki Reno leaves the Autoblog Garage after getting us through some horrible weather on more than one occasion all the while providing a very reliable driving experience. That doesn't speak to any exhilaration from the driver's seat but it does speak volumes about how much the competition routinely misses the mark.
One thing the Reno has going for it is it's terrific styling. The Italian exterior is much more attractive in person and the interior I discussed at length yesterday is outstanding. In the end I think it's this mix of top design and the smooth and quiet ride that will win over new buyers.
There?s also a lot of utility to be had. With the back seats up the rear hatch holds a decent amount of cargo. I stuffed two decent sized carry-on bags, backpack and briefcase with the seats up and things could?ve been stacked much higher. With the seats down I fit that same amount of luggage along with a big dog bed. The seats flipped down easily and the rather large headrests didn?t get in the way when reorganizing. They did block visibility a bit when up and I?d probably remove them if I was a lone driver or two passenger family.
Of course I?d be remiss without pointing out that the Reno has one of the weakest engines in the class at only 129 horsepower. However those extra horses aren?t really missed except in pure off the line acceleration. Highway performance and general ?zippiness? are attributes the Reno has chalked up after our week of driving. Another thought on the horsepower though goes to mileage. It only gets 22/30 mpg. I was kind of surprised but then double-checked the Kia Spectra sedan and that only gets 25/34 with a 138 hp engine. But it feels much slower. Even the better-powered Suzuki Aerio wagon gets 25/31 mpg at 155 hp.
This leads to my logical suggestion to Suzuki to either up the hp or up the mpg in 2006 to satisfy either the tuners or commuters. Right now the Reno is right in the middle and hitting people that just need a reliable and attractive small wagon. Not that there?s anything wrong with that.