The day they dropped Suzuki’s new midsizer, the Kizashi, was warm and bright; right away I dug its excellent stance and proportions—looks that hadn’t been watered down from last year’s show car overmuch. Its interior was well wrought of high quality materials, and if the dash aped that of the VW Passat, so what; they could do a lot worse*. It was chock full of desirable standard equipment like a powered driver’s seat with memory, decent stereo, dual climate control, keyless go, and Bluetooth.
The drive was decent—though it didn’t live up to the advertising hype: the Kizashi is no Nurburgring stormer. Handling was just average, though ride quality wasn’t objectionable. Its 185hp, 2.4-liter four isn’t necessarily lacking in output: 170lb-ft of torque is class-competitive. But the continuously variable transmission does it no favors: paddle shifts or not, the Suzuki felt strained and a bit overwhelmed by Denver’s thin air.
The next morning, after scraping off the night’s accumulation of fresh ice and snow, I noticed a button on the Kizashi’s dash labeled ‘AWD’. Surprised, I engaged it, and commenced a thankfully undramatic, slip-free commute to the office. Now things were starting to make more sense…
Stacked up against the Subaru Legacy or Ford Fusion, some of the only other mainstream AWD sedans, the Kizashi began to come into focus. Here was an affordable, all-weather machine with an extra heaping of style that sets it apart from more staid competitors. As long as blistering strait line speed or back-road barminess aren’t on the list of needed skills, it makes great sense. And for those in more temperate climes, a front-drive Kizashi model weighs in lighter and therefore generates better mileage and acceleration numbers. In either configuration, this Suzuki is a pleasing addition to more obvious mainstream players.
*This is ironic, insofar as VW just announced that they are buying 20% of Suzuki, in order to tap the Japanese firm’s small car expertise. Suzuki, in turn, will buy voting stock in VW.
THE BROKER’S VIEW: Older Suzuki’s have never really held their value well in the secondhand market. Set against that, their models made in-house are extremely robust and reliable. This should apply to the Kizashi as well. Building on the ground laid by its junior sibling, the SX4, this newest and most audacious Suzuki yet looks set to provide both good value and longevity of service for both new and used car shoppers.
Price as tested: $25,584
For more on what Suzuki has to say, go here.