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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    2013 Suzuki SX4 Crossover


    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    November 9, 2012

    In 2004, if you wanted a subcompact vehicle with the ability to go off the beaten path, you would have to leave the U.S. and head to Europe to pick up a Fiat Panda 4x4. Then in 2006, Suzuki unveiled the SX4 crossover which came with the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It was billed as the least expensive vehicle equipped with AWD in the U.S. with a base price of $14,999.

    Since its introduction, the SX4 hasn’t changed much and has drifted into obscurity. Even with Suzuki adding a FWD SX4 sportback and sedan to the lineup, there aren’t that many SX4s on the road. Now for the 2013 model year, Suzuki has made some small changes inside and out, and raised the base price to $16,999.

    The SX4’s exterior looks to be a modern interpretation of the first-generation Geo Metro 5-Door hatchback. Both have low and angular fronts before transitioning to tall, rounded rooflines and sloping rear ends. This shape allows Suzuki to put in a larger area of glass which makes for better visibility and makes the interior feel larger.

    gallery_10485_487_627772.png

    Other design cues to take note is a revised front end with a larger grille, sixteen-inch alloy wheels, black body cladding, rear bumper skidplate, and a new Plasma Yellow Metallic paint color.

    The SX4’s interior is a textbook example of a no-nonsense environment. You won’t find any contrasting interior pieces or many luxuries. There are hard plastics used on the dash and door panels, but they look and feel solid. Build quality is high with no panel gaps or rattling noises.

    Front seat passengers get cloth-covered seats that are very comfortable and feature a decent amount of adjustments. On this particular SX4, the front seats were also heated. Backseat passengers will appreciate the large amount of headroom thanks to the high roofline. What they won’t appreciate is the lack of legroom, especially to those who are tall.

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    This particular SX4 was equipped with a new 6.1-inch touchscreen system which provides navigation, traffic, AM/FM radio, CD, USB, SD Card, Bluetooth, and Pandora streaming. The system is very intuitive and feels responsive. The navigation data and maps for the system are provided by Garmin. While the graphics look like something you would find in the mid-2000’s, the system provided good data and was able to get me where I needed to go. The Pandora streaming works by plugging your smartphone via USB to play your stations. I found the system wouldn’t play the station I had listened to last on the phone. I found that if I switched to another station and then changing back, the station would begin playing. I’m not sure if this if a problem with the system, Pandora, my phone (iPhone 4S), or a combination of the pieces.

    Next: Power, AWD, Driving, and Verdict


    Powering the SX4 Crossover is a 2.0L DOHC inline-four producing 148 HP and 140 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent through a CVT and down to either the front-wheels or to all four-wheels via Suzuki’s i-AWD system. The 2.0L engine is satisfactory in this application. Most times, you’ll find the engine provides enough power to get you around town with ease. There are times though where you do wish the car had a bit more torque when merging onto an expressway, though the CVT does an excellent job of keeping you right in the engine’s power band.

    gallery_10485_487_905840.png

    Much like the Kizashi that I had in for review back in August, the SX4 Crossover has a switch to turn the AWD system on and off. There are three different settings for the AWD system,

    • Off: Leaves the AWD system off, power is sent to front-wheels
    • Auto: AWD system kicks on when the system detects a loss of traction
    • Lock: AWD system is always on

    I had the opportunity to test the SX4's AWD system through some of the terrible storms that Hurricane Sandy pushed into my area, and I'm happy to say the SX4 and I pulled through.

    Fuel economy was a huge disappointment for such a small vehicle. The EPA rates the 2013 SX4 Crossover at 23 City/29 Highway/25 Combined. My week’s average was around 24 MPG on mostly suburban and rural roads. On the freeway, I got around 27.1 MPG.

    The SX4 crossover’s suspension is made up of Macpherson struts up front and a torsion-beam setup in the back. For steering, Suzuki employs a hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion system. This combination makes the SX4 a good partner when you have the urge to take a spirited drive as it keeps the vehicle stable and the steering provides enough feel and weight.

    gallery_10485_487_469785.png

    But what about the daily grind? How does the SX4 crossover fare? Very well. The suspension provides enough damping to minimize bumps and imperfections on the road. Also, there isn’t that much wind noise entering the cabin. There is a good amount of road noise though.

    Finishing up my time with the Suzuki SX4, I realized there are many similarities to it and the Kizashi I had in for review back in August. Both vehicles make excellent cases for themselves, but have a few nagging problems. In the SX4’s case, the positives are a unique AWD system, fun and comfortable handling, decent CVT, and simplistic interior design. Problem areas are the poor fuel economy, rearseat legroom, and Suzuki itself.

    Which is pretty sad since the Suzuki SX4 crossover deserves more attention than its been getting. Now with the recent news of American Suzuki Motor Corporation filling for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closing down its automotive branch, it brings attention the SX4 has been longing for. The SX4 is no-nonsense hatchback crossover that has AWD traction and a low price-tag. Combine it with Suzuki's promise to honor warranties on vehicles and you have one of the best values on road. If this interests you, you should head out shortly since it might not be long before the SX4 crossover is gone forever.

    gallery_10485_487_582323.png

    Cheers:

    AWD System

    Price

    No-nonsense interior

    Handling during spirited and normal driving

    CVT

    Suzuki honoring warrenties

    Jeers:

    Fuel Economy with the 2.0L

    Rear Legroom

    Suzuki saying farewell to the American car market

    Disclaimer: Suzuki provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Suzuki

    Model – SX4 Crossover

    Trim – AWD Tech Value Package (Nav)

    Engine – 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four

    Driveline – All-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM – 148 HP (@ 6,000 RPM)

    Torque @ RPM – 140 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/29/25

    Curb Weight – 2,954 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Sagara, Japan

    Base Price - $20,449.00

    As Tested Price - $20,704.00* (Doesn’t include Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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    "In 2004, if you wanted a subcompact vehicle with the ability to go off the beaten path, you would have to leave the U.S. and head to Europe to pick up a Fiat Panda 4x4."

    Then in 2006 Suzuki brought the Fiat Panda to the U.S. wearing the body of its platform-mate Fiat Sedici and called it the SX4 :)

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    I always liked these. The 2013 updates look good, the front end is clean. The color is interesting. I almost bought one of these a few times in the past, with manual transmission.

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    People bitch about the mpg, but there really are very few vehicles out there that get better than 27 if they are equipped with AWD. And the gas tank is small. Part of the gas mileage issue is the weight....3000 pounds, and a shape that is not aerodynamic. Kizashis get as much mpg. The FWD only Sportbacks got 3-5mpg more easily.

    The CVT is a little rubbery, but it is a 2010 vintage. It is snappy on the higher mph range. I wanted to see how a DI engine and newer CVT would have fared.

    I saw this new green color at the 13 MY training (I would buy one), and got to play with the new radio. It works nice and phones connect ASAP. They should have had that in 2010.

    Lots of headroom, and most folks think the rear leg room is even decent for such a small vehicle.

    The SX4 drives well, and is pretty reliable. It's a terror in winter.

    4 wheel discs, 8 air bags.

    The new grille / fascia kept it fresh. The plan was to continue to sell the SX4 next to the new S Cross crossover and the matching sedan. There was also to have been a Grand Vitara replacement. Either based on the Kizashi or simply an all new frame rugged SUV.

    Most customer objections were from the mpg and size, and occasionally safety ratings. The new S Cross would have handled that being Matrix size. Yet many bought one because the small size allowed them to fit in garages that were small. It's not much bigger than a Fiat, but it's way more road worthy.

    I still have been thinking about maybe getting one to replace my Cobalt if I can strike the right deal, although a Kizashi would be the way to do. I like cars, but really at some point in life, you just want something simple you don't blow a lot of bucks on. Had Suzuki marketed their cars and positioned them that way, maybe they wouldn't be out of business.

    Suzukis will continue to be sold in Canada. Thanks for the complimentary review. Just to give you an idea of how fast and drastic the out of business thing was.....had 13 MY training......they just put out the 13 brochures.....and out of the blu, bye bye.

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    Next-generation-2014-Suzuki-Grand-Vitara-will-base-on-Kizashis-plaform.jpg

    2012-Suzuki-Swift-Sport-5-door-2.jpg

    2012-Suzuki-Swift-Sport-test-drive.jpg

    sx4_2013.jpg

    Edited by regfootball

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    they could have tried to sell 80% of their 2013 allotment to fleets and just wait it out till 2014. And then ultimately keep refining the dealer network.

    Apparently they say no scenario of increasing volume. I beg to differ. All it would have required was some image and brand building and some advertising and keeping the features and content fresh. And having some lease incentives etc.

    It should have been easy to sell 30k of Kizashis, 25k of SX4's, 15k of Grand Vitaras, and 10k each of Equators and Swifts. That's 90k. Add the new crossover, and eventually the Kizashi size crossover. Even in a down year, there is no excuse why they could not have sustained 60-80k sales a year.

    Even 75,000 spread out through 250 dealers = 300 cars / 12 months = 25 cars a month. That should have worked out. 80,000 on 200 dealers = 400 / 12 = 30+ cars a month.

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    My 2008 SX-4 has 88,000 miles on it and the front suspension is a problem. Tie rod ends last about 6000 miles. The dealer can't figure out why. We live on a dirt road and it just tears this little car suspension up. Other than that it has been great and I love it. Just know that it is not designed for anything but asphalt roads and it is the best snow vehicle I have ever driven.

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    I would look to Energy Suspension for beefier suspension components. The SX4 around here people have loved to get up the mountain to ski/snowboard, but everyone agrees that if you get 10K miles before a suspension problem shows you did good. Sad as the little car has so much potential.

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