2010 Suzuki Kizashi: Yes, It's a Winner
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi was the overall winner in this year’s AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award rankings among 2010MY vehicles, meaning that it not only was best in its mid-size car segment, but was more satisfying to its owners than any other 2010 model year vehicle on the market. Yes, more satisfying than Camry, Accord, or Altima. Heck, it was rated as more satisfying by its owners than Lexus LS460, for crying out loud!
It’s always great to see an underdog take home such a win, but in all honesty, we were a bit surprised when our numbers were tabulated, giving the Suzuki its overall win. After all, Suzuki is a car company that sort of lurks in the shadows: you are sort of aware that it’s there, but it’s probably not the first brand you think of when it’s time to go car shopping.
After a week with the Kizashi, we have to say that we are suitably impressed. It may not be the roomiest or fastest, but it is clearly one of the most fun mid-sizers around, with enthusiastic handling and a surprisingly upscale demeanor.
Like all Kizashis, ours was equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder, the only engine available. With the six-speed manual transmission, as ours was equipped with, it makes 185HP. With the CVT automatic, it makes 180HP. A V6 and hybrid were to be available later, but these components were to be sourced from General Motors, who last year divested its interest in Suzuki. This meant that those engines were no longer available for Suzuki to use. Honestly, it’s not that big of a loss. GM’s belt alternator system (BAS) hybrid system isn’t very impressive, and the car is plenty fun with its four-cylinder engine to make the V6 superfluous. Matched to the nicely gated six-speed manual, the engine is smooth and peppy. Our test car was front wheel drive, but all wheel drive is available at extra charge.
It’s a joy to hustle through curves too. The steering, while electrically assisted, is very accurate. Body control is fantastic despite the comfortable ride. The big tires grip the road with enthusiasm. Clearly, Suzuki’s ride and handling engineers are right up there with the best of them, because this truly is one fun-to-drive sedan that does not sacrifice the ride comfort necessary in this sort of car.
The interior is pretty spacious given the pert outside dimensions. Yes, it’s one of the smaller mid-size cars on the outside, but the interior has plenty of room both front and rear. That interior is also very nicely finished, with soft-touch, low-gloss materials throughout. It’s a far cry from the Daewoo-built Suzuki sedans from just a few years ago. It’s quiet too, even with the big 18-inch wheels and tires on our tester…perfect for cranking up the tunes on the excellent iPod-compatible Rockford Fosgate audio system.
But you’re shopping for a mid-size car, and that means you HAVE TO buy a Camry or Accord or Fusion, right? It’s all too easy to be a lemming when shopping for a family appliance. After all, when you buy a known quantity like those cars, you know what you’re getting. But the rewards for thinking outside the box can be considerable, especially with a car as enjoyable as a Kizashi. In fact, with Kizashi, you are getting less of an appliance and more of a proper automobile…one that might actually make you take the long way home from time to time. Kizashi’s owners have spoken – and they love their cars, as our data clearly show. We tried it and loved it. Maybe you should try it too.