Full 2010 Suzuki Kizashi Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is an all-new midsize sedan.
Forget everything you know about Suzuki. Actually, that shouldn't be that hard, since aside from the old Sidekick, most folks barely know the brand even exists. "Suzuki? Don't they make motorcycles?" Well, yes they do, but Suzuki also makes cars -- it's just that it wasn't making cars really worth noticing...until now. The all-new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is radically different (and better) than anything Suzuki has produced in the past: a midsize sedan that is a serious competitor in a very competitive segment.
The Kizashi is a bit smaller in size compared to family sedans like the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima but bigger than smaller sedans like a Civic or a Volkswagen Jetta. Actually, the Jetta is a good reference point, because cover up the Kizashi's badges and you'd think it's from a European automaker based on its appearance, quality and driving demeanor. The interior is superb and a revelation for a brand that's never had a truly desirable small or midsize car. The Kizashi's materials, construction and overall design could easily be confused for a VW's, while its ride and handling are also notably European in flavor. Everything about the Kizashi makes it seem a bit more upscale than its Japanese competition, yet it costs the same or less.
Initially, the Kizashi will only come with a 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine attached to either a manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is also optional. This powertrain should be enough for most consumers, as the Kizashi is punchy around town and is still quicker than other four-cylinder-powered sedans. Certainly, some people might still desire a V6, and Suzuki says one should arrive in the next year or two.
As impressive as it is, the Kizashi does have a few downsides working against it. First, Suzuki doesn't exactly have an extensive dealer network, making a test-drive and service potentially difficult. On a functional level, the Kizashi's slightly smaller backseat could also be a turnoff for people used to the latest supersized sedans like the Accord and Mazda 6. Then there's the name, which is bound to elicit plenty of emphatic "You drive what" from friends and family.
Get beyond that, though, and you have a car that rewrites the book on Suzuki and possibly the midsize sedan segment. It could be considered an alternative to VW's Jetta and Passat, as well as sportier family sedans like the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima. It's also one of the few cars in this segment to offer all-wheel drive. Overall, we give it a hearty recommendation, and should you be in the market for a sporty four-cylinder midsize sedan, the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi should be at the top of your list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is a midsize sedan available in S, SE, GTS and SLS trim levels. The Kizashi S comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless ignition/entry, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a nine-speaker stereo with CD player, USB port/iPod interface and satellite radio. When equipped with the CVT, the S gains cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an eight-way power driver seat with memory settings. The GTS adds 18-inch wheels, foglights, a sunroof, steering wheel shift paddles (CVT), a 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo and Bluetooth phone connectivity/audio streaming. The top-shelf Kizashi SLS adds automatic headlamps, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power passenger seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. All trims can be equipped with all-wheel drive, which also adds heated mirrors.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Suzuki Kizashi is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims, with all-wheel drive optional. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, GTS and SLS with front-wheel drive, while a CVT is optional on those trims and standard on the SE and all-wheel-drive models.
In performance testing, a Kizashi SLS with the six-speed manual and front-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds -- slightly above-average performance for a four-cylinder midsize sedan. With the CVT, that drops to a class-average 9.1 seconds. Suzuki's estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway on the S model (regardless of powertrain), while the other trims achieve 20/29 with the six-speed manual, 23/30 with front-wheel drive and CVT, and 22/29 with all-wheel drive and CVT.
Every 2010 Suzuki Kizashi comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Kizashi GTS with its 18-inch wheels came to a stop in an excellent 114 feet. In government crash tests, the Kizashi scored a perfect 5 stars for front and side protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Past Suzukis have not been known for quality interiors, but the Kizashi completely reverses that trend. Materials are top-notch, everything is well assembled and even the general dash design is reminiscent of those in upscale vehicles like the VW Passat. Actually, many of the Kizashi's controls are easier to use than the VW's, though its radio's display utilizes an overly large font that cuts off satellite radio and iPod interface song information (apparently, we're listening to "In My P" by "Coldpla").
Interior comfort is also quite good. Headroom is ample all around and the front seats offer excellent support. The backseat doesn't quite offer the same amount of legroom as its bigger competitors in the midsize segment, however. The trunk is also a bit smaller than the norm, with 13.3 cubic feet of capacity.
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is going for those buyers who want an exciting driving experience from their family sedan. There's plenty of grip, the chassis is well balanced and the steering is well-weighted if a tad numb. Ride quality is on the firm side, but drivers used to European cars or sportier Japanese entries should find it suitably comfortable. Wind and road noise are kept in check thanks to a generous amount of sound-deadening materials.
The four-cylinder provides suitable power for this sort of car, offering responsive low-end power. The standard six-speed manual isn't the most precise gearbox on the planet, but the CVT is actually quite good. It dips into the engine's torque without the delay and loud droning typical of such transmissions. Paddle shifters on the GTS and SLS simulate gears for sportier driving or when the driver desires full control of the transmission.
Read our Suzuki Kizashi Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test