2008 Suzuki SX4
We can understand why people shopping for a compact car might look past the 2008 Suzuki SX4
. After all, can a company known mostly for its motorcycles really build a quality entry-level sedan? Well, if the SX4 is anything to go by, then yes, Suzuki can build a decently solid compact sedan. While it isn’t a perfect car, given the competition the SX4 does a lot of things right. A list of long standard features and affordable options means the SX4 won’t break the bank even if you load it up. Also, the spacious interior makes it a good option for tall drivers looking for a compact car. While its dynamics might not deliver the excitement of a Suzuki superbike, it won’t bore you either.
What's to Like
For such a small car, the SX4 has a surprising amount of headroom. It also has an impressive list of standard features, four-star crash rating and a 100,000 mile seven year power train warranty, plus it’s one of the least expensive cars on the market to offer all-wheel drive.
What's Not to Like
Compared to the compact car competition, the SX4 returns sub-par fuel economy. The interior finishes, while not terrible, aren’t up to the standards of other Japanese manufacturers in its segment.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Most compact sedans felt slightly claustrophobic, but not the SX4. Thanks to a high roofline, even an NBA point guard won’t feel cramped inside. The steering wheel is well placed and, despite no telescoping feature, feels naturally positioned even when the driver’s seat is moved all the way back. The engine feels a little lackluster until it wakes up at 4,000 rpm, after which power delivery is consistent and adequate. The speed-sensitive steering has a small dead spot in the center and likes to quickly snap back to its neutral position when released, but it is light and direct. The SX4’s biggest surprise was the relative lack of road noise at highway speeds.
Engine and Drivetrain
The SX4 is powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 143 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque. While it might not sound like anything special, the 2.0-liter unit suits the Suzuki’s economy car character well. The engine drives the front wheels through either the standard five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, which is available as a $1,100 option.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Perhaps the SX4’s greatest assets are its lengthy standard features list and long-term 100,000-mile warranty. While some of the SX4’s competitors keep items such as 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, tire pressure monitoring system and antilock 4-wheel disc brakes stowed in the “options” column, the SX4 comes standard with all of them. A highly recommended convenience package, which includes cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls and an automatic climate control feature for the air conditioning is available for a very reasonable $500. Potential buyers unsure of Suzuki’s reputation building cars will be reassured by its lengthy warranty.
Key Technology Evaluation
The base model SX4 doesn’t have too many technological features aside from the ABS system and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The $1,500 Touring Package 2 option, however, upgrades the SX4 significantly by adding not only the steering wheel and cruise control from the convenience package, but also a 9-speaker in-dash 6-disc CD changer, SmartPass keyless entry and start functions and traction and stability control.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Unfortunately, whatever ground the Suzuki may make up with its impressive features list and compliant ride is lost against the competition’s fuel economy. The SX4 returns below average figures of 23 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway. While these numbers aren’t terrible, when compared to the similarly priced Honda Civic
and Toyota Corolla
, they make the SX4 look a bit fuel-hungry.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The SX4’s high roofline results in a massive windscreen but also creates a rather thick A-pillar (backed up by a secondary A-pillar) that can slightly obscure the diver’s vision. The stereo and climate control are both straightforward items, the latter of which is controlled via a three-dial setup. The seats are comfortable, but unfortunately the rear seats do not fold down, limiting the Suzuki’s cargo capacity.
The exterior of the Suzuki SX4, minus the large 17-inch alloy wheels, is typical Japanese compact sedan – a bit bland and rather utilitarian. The high roofline makes the car look slightly out of proportion, but adding the Touring Package 2 will get you a spoiler and front fog lamps that manage to give the SX4 a bit more presence on the road.
Market Segment and Pricing
Pricing for the 2008 Suzuki SX4 begins at a reasonably competitive $14,770 and isn’t likely to go over $17,000, even with an automatic transmission, the all-wheel drive system and a few convenience options. This puts the SX4 right in line with the Honda Civic
, Toyota Corolla
and Nissan Versa
, though the Suzuki name might result in it overlooked by many North American buyers, that is sure to change.
What We Think
The Suzuki SX4 does everything it should. It’s a compact car that offers plenty of headroom, a solid list of standard options and a warranty that will outlast the tenure of most buyers’ ownership. While its fuel economy might not be the best in its segment, it’s certainly not terrible and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. What we really like is the optional all-wheel drive at a low, low base price.