Suzuki:

2010 Suzuki Kizashi: Yes, It's a Winner

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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!


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Autopacific Announces 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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AutoPacVSAlogo10.jpgNational Survey Reveals Cadillac as Top Premium Brand, Buick as Top Popular Brand, Ford Motor Company Has Most Awards with Seven, Suzuki Kizashi as Top Car and Lincoln MKT as Top Truck
TUSTIN, Calif. (May 20, 2010) — AutoPacific today announced its 14th Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA) to help consumers make informed vehicle purchase decisions.
“While the auto industry is showing signs of improvement, more than ever before, manufacturers need to be able to differentiate themselves. Proof of satisfied customers is as good as gold,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “We’ve found that more than 25% of new car buyers are positively influenced by owner-based awards like the VSA when deciding on a new car or truck.”
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award is an industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new car or light truck. This study by the Southern California-based automotive research firm summarizes the results of over 42,000 new vehicle owners.
“Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” says Peterson. “The winners perform well in 48 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience.”


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On the Road: 2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback

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Who Says You Can’t Get Standard Navigation for $18,500? Not Suzuki
We called up the kind folks over at Suzuki this winter and asked if we could check out one of their latest additions, the 2010 SX4 Sportback. Specifically, we wanted to check out the standard integrated Garmin navigation system. Having spent a reasonable amount of time with systems that range from $1500 to $2500, the idea of a cheap but functional system appeals. The expensive systems generally have great graphics, bigger screens, and are nicely integrated into the car’s center stack. But are they worth it?
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Suzuki is also making some noise with what is now the second-oldest vehicle in its range, the five-door SX4, for 2010MY. Launched for the 2007MY, this five-door hatchback was introduced as an AWD model, causing some to initially confuse it with a small SUV. The range was expanded to include a sedan with the 2008MY, and a front-drive version of the hatchback became available for 2009MY. With 2010MY, these cars take a new engine that boosts power to 150HP and also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission.


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2010 Suzuki Kizashi: Sporting Personality and Value

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Suzuki Kizashi arrives in showrooms in December 2009. When the car was revealed this summer, we talked about how its size fits into the market (click here), but Suzuki recently invited us to spend an afternoon flogging the car around rural roads in North Carolina and at the Virginia International Raceway. We happily obliged.
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Should Americans recent appreciation for cheap chic develop into a sustained shift, Suzuki is ready. Kizashi is a sporting, stylish sedan with premium features and finish at a mainstream price–a mainstream price, not a value price. For Suzuki, if keeping up with the Joneses now means how little did you spend to get fancy tricks of premium cars, Kizashi represents well. Comparing Kizashi against its development targets (Alfa Romeo 159, Acura TSX, and Volkswagen Passat CC), and you find a responsive drive, lots of features, and generic uplevel cues. Suzuki’s target was good for the consumer: It resulted in a better car.
Kizashi is smaller than Mazda6, larger than compact Chevrolet Cobalt; smaller than Ford Fusion and larger than Volkswagen Jetta. Kizashi is ahead of the segment offering AWD; sure, Ford Fusion does, but only with more expensive V6 models. Speaking of V6, Kizashi launches without one. AutoPacific’s research shows most buyers would put a six-cylinder in their next ideal vehicle–even if they often end up buying a four–and Suzuki has one we wouldn’t be surprised to see later.
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2010 Suzuki Kizashi: Can This Flyweight Hold Its Own With the Big Boys?

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Suzuki_2010_Kizashi_two.JPGSuzuki unveiled the company’s very first mid-size sedan this week, and VehicleVoice staff were on hand to witness the car’s global debut. The importance of the car to Suzuki cannot be overstated. The company has long been known for small vehicles, specifically compact cars and SUVs. But, buyers of small vehicles tend to want to move up to larger vehicles next time around and by and large, Suzuki has not had larger vehicles to move owners up into (we’ll ignore the forgettable Verona, a rebadged Daewoo sedan). Thus, the company has not been able to retain its customers as they progress through their lifestages.


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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards

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Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.


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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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Suzuki Adds Standard Garmin Navigation to SX

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One of the highest demanded in-car technology features these days is a navigation system. Originally, these were in-car hard-wired systems that were somewhat clumsy to use and required expensive annual updates to keep them current. Recently, portable hand-held units from Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and others have given consumers the option of having a navigation system that is much less expensive than the hard-wired system, and still can be used out of the vehicle or with other vehicles.
Over the past couple of years, these portable systems have been making in-roads on the fixed systems found in many cars. Where a typical in-car system would cost $1,995 (as the new Ford SIRIUS-SYNC-NAV system does), capable portable NAV unit can be had for under $500.

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Suzuki, rightly in our mind, has adopted a strategy that has the best of both worlds and approaches the holy grail we have been seeking for the past decade… more on that later. Anyway, Suzuki will have a Garmin NAV system standard in its 2009 SX4 sedan. This is a first in the compact class of cars. And the collaboration between Suzuki and Garmin has resulted in a pretty slick system. The NAV unit is similar to the familiar Garmin NUVI 700 unit and has a 4.3-inch screen. It plugs into a flip up lid atop the instrument panel and syncs with the audio system. As all Garmin units this one is touch screen and you input destinations just by tapping the screen. While the screen is not the huge 8.5-inches found in some OEM systems, the Suzuki/Garmin system is plenty big enough for most things.
Hats off to Suzuki for being first to the market with an innovative and cost effective way to get NAV into the hands of buyers of less expensive cars.
HOLY GRAIL – PERSONALIZED DATA TRANSPORT – CAR AS RECPTACLE
Now, about the holy grail. Since AutoPacific began conducting consumer research on navigation systems and telematics over a decade ago, it became obvious that the logical solution would be some sort of super PDA or iPod that would be personalized to the driver. The car would be the receptacle and the iPod-esque device would carry music, navigation, personalized vehicle settings, address book, telephone, bluetooth, etc. All that stuff that is becoming an integral part of our 21st century lifestyle. Because all of those things change rapidly, they are not ideal for hard-wiring in a car or truck. We know the industry is working on solutions like this. Just taking too long.
• • • • • Garmin’s Press Release Can Be Found Below the Fold • • • • •


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2009 Suzuki Equator: A Pickup for Suzuki

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Suzuki Goes to Nissan for a Truck
Looking at Suzuki‘s new Equator, introduced at the Chicago auto show, you can see a Nissan Frontier shape. This isn’t an accident or a copycat design, as Nissan will build the Equator for Suzuki. Suzuki has a stronger image among buyers of ATVs, marine engines, and motorcycles than they do with people looking for cars and trucks. A compact pickup seems natural for a brand selling toys that need to be towed, especially as their toys have terrific reputations for quality and value. Suzuki won’t sell enough Equators to justify creating and building a pickup of their own, but partnering gets them a strong product at a price they can afford.

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Officially, we haven’t yet seen the production Equator (on sale until fall 2008), as Suzuki presented three concepts in Chicago. Each highlighted another branch of Suzuki’s recreational business, carrying Suzuki ATVs and motorcycles and hauling a boat with Suzuki engines. Supporting the relationship between Suzuki cars and trucks, Suzuki’s Gene Brown drove on stage on their V-Strom motorcycle. And in the Windy City in a February snowstorm, images of warm-weather outdoor activities were all the more compelling. Suzuki linked the two sides of the company and demonstrated why a truck can be a sensible addition.
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The concepts should inspire customizers and Suzuki’s planning teams, looking for possible special editions and factory-backed accessories. Suzuki showed the Equator being used to maximizing free time, giving it a fun image from the get-go. Equator has a solid foundation, if a weak name, and a team behind it with a clear sense of what buyer to target and a good road map for getting there.


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Suzuki Kizashi and Kizashi 2: A Brand Looking to Grow

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Concepts at Frankfurt and Tokyo Foreshadow Suzuki’s Mid-Size Intentions.
The Kizashi at the 2007 Frankfurt show and the Kizashi 2 a month later at the Tokyo motor show, according to Suzuki, “illustrate Suzuki‘s progress toward developing a D-segment entry.” For American buyers, those are cars similar in size to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Azera. Suzuki’s GM-Daewoo-supplied Verona tried to compete here, but was not a particularly good example of a family sedan, expensive for the Suzuki franchise, and it was dropped from the range after a short sales run in the USA.

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Among the interesting elements of these two international concept cars is that both carry a wagon bodystyle; Suzuki is due to show a third development next year in the United States and it would be a good bet that that car is a sedan and closer to what the production vehicle will be. Suzuki is well aware of the need for the production car to at least include a sedan, having indicated that they are planning a new flagship sedan, despite theses wagon concepts. In the States, four-door sedans dominate car segments. Few wagons survive for long in the cutthroat U.S. mid-size market, and those that do sell a fraction of their sedan counterparts. Wagons fare much better in international markets, where buyers did not take SUVs to heart quite as deeply as Americans. Simply, in the USA, SUVs killed the idea of a conventional station wagon.
The Kizashi 2 in Tokyo takes more aggressive, nearly SUV cues, compared with the sleek Kizashi, but it is still a wagon. Suzuki is looking for a D-segment entry that focuses on status and signals the maturity of the brand.
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