2010 Kizashi New Car Test Drive
Suzuki says that the Kizashi midsize sedan is the most important car in the history of the company. Starting off with a bang, it was nominated for North American Car of the Year by a panel of automotive journalists who drove it, before it reached the showrooms. The word kizashi means something great is coming.
The Suzuki Kizashi comes with a 2.4-liter aluminum four-cylinder with variable valve timing that does the job well, getting about 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving. It makes 185 or 180 horsepower, depending on whether it's mated to a six-speed manual transmission or Continuously Variable Transaxle (CVT). The CVT works like an automatic transmission but can also be controlled manually with six ranges shifted neatly by paddles on the steering wheel.
Suzuki engineers invested much time and attention in the development of the suspension, MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear, and it shows; the ride (including over rough roads) and handling (including hard driving on the track) are exceptional for a midsize sports sedan that costs a mere $20,000. The chassis raises the bar for rigidity. The brakes, too, we found to be pitch perfect.
All-wheel drive is available. It's a sophisticated system that turns on and off so you can use the normal front-wheel drive on dry pavement and not waste fuel. The all-wheel-drive package, available with the CVT, brings Suzuki to the game with the Subaru Legacy and Audi A3.
Suzuki didn't sully the Kizashi's fine engineering with overstated styling. It looks both potent and elegant, in its modest midsize manner. Lovely lines: a touch of Audi here, a pinch of Lexus there. No overachieving swoops or flares, no gratuitous chrome trying to grab your attention.
Inside the cabin, you have to pinch yourself to accept that you're in a car with such a modest price. The quality of the materials is high, maybe especially the standard sport seats, the layout of the controls and instruments is clean, and the standard equipment is plentiful, including climate control vents for the rear seat, and a USB port, among other details. Even the base model has remote entry, pushbutton start, power windows, and other equipment many base models lack, although cruise control is not included at that lowest price.
Safety-wise, the Kizashi leads the field, with no less than eight airbags and advanced stability control using the anti-lock brake system (ABS). Suzuki says the Kizashi has surpassed the government's 2014 standards for side pole impact and offset front collision.
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi comes in four models, S, SE, GTS, and SLS. All use the same 2.4-liter engine, with either a six-speed manual transmission or continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (AWD) models are available.
Kizashi S ($18,999) comes with cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control with rear-seat vents, fold-down pass-through rear seat, nine-speaker sound system with steering-wheel controls, USB port, and projector beam headlamps. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, but the CVT ($20,499) is available. The Kizashi S AWD ($21,749) features all-wheel drive and the CVT.
Kizashi SE ($21,499) and Kizashi SE AWD both come with the CVT plus cruise control, 10-way power driver's seat with three memory positions, 17-inch tires on alloy wheels, and leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake lever.
Kizashi GTS ($22,499) adds a moonroof and foglamps, 10-speaker Rockford sound system with Bluetooth, and beautiful 18-inch alloy wheels with wide-profile tires. GTS comes with the six-speed manual or the CVT ($23,599) and AWD ($24,849).
Kizashi SLS ($24,399) features leather upholstery, heated seats and mirrors, automatic headlamps and wipers, and a rear parking sensor. SLS is available with CVT ($25,499) and AWD ($26,749).
Options are limited to a navigation system with rearview camera ($1,299) for the GTS and SLS. (Note: All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices and do not include the destination charge.) The basic warranty is three years or 36,000 miles, but the powertrain is covered for seven years or 100,000 miles.
Safety features include eight airbags: two frontal, two side curtain, and two side-impact. Electronic stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution come standard, along with the mandated tire-pressure monitor. All-wheel drive is optional.