What's New for 2012
2012 Suzuki Kizashi buyers can now get leather upholstery on the midrange SE trim level.
Success is measured in a variety of ways. For automobiles, success is generally determined by sales numbers, but in the case of the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi this metric proves elusive. While the Kizashi is one of the better choices among midsize sedans, Suzuki's limited dealer network makes it more of a sleeper success in the segment.
It's likely that if Suzuki's presence and marketing budget were as large as its competition, shoppers would take notice of the 2012 Kizashi. With distinct European styling and a refined interior that exceeds expectations, it's a shame more people either don't know about it or don't have convenient access to one. Furthermore, the Kizashi provides as much comfort as it does excitement behind the wheel.
Comparing the Kizashi to more readily available midsize sedans reveals that it's slightly down on rear legroom, but by no means cramped. And while the Suzuki's 2.4-liter engine provides ample motivation, there's no turbo or V6 option. Nor is there a hybrid alternative.
But even with these minor drawbacks, the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is still worthy of consideration among tough competition. We rank the Hyundai Sonata and related Kia Optima on top of the family sedan segment, with the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry remaining great choices as well. But if you happen to have a Suzuki dealer nearby, we highly recommend checking out the 2012 Kizashi, as it's really a success waiting to be noticed.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is a midsize sedan available in S, SE, Sport GTS and Sport SLS trim levels.
The Kizashi S comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless ignition/entry, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. When equipped with the CVT, the S gains cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a seven-speaker stereo with USB port/iPod interface. The SE includes all of the above, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and an eight-way power driver seat with memory settings and power lumbar adjustment. Leather upholstery is available as an option on the SE trim.
The Sport GTS adds 18-inch wheels, sporty exterior treatments (front fascia, side sills and a rear spoiler), foglights, a sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension with a lower ride height, a 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo and Bluetooth phone connectivity/audio streaming. Sport GTS models with AWD also receive steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles (optional on front-wheel-drive models).
The top-shelf Kizashi Sport SLS adds automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, heated sideview mirrors, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power passenger seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Optional on the SLS is a navigation system with a rearview camera.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, Sport GTS and Sport SLS with front-wheel drive, while a CVT is optional on those trims and standard on the SE and AWD models. Models with the six-speed manual transmission produce 185 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, while CVT-equipped variants are detuned slightly to produce 180 hp. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims, with AWD optional.
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.
Estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg in combined driving on the S model with the manual transmission, while the CVT model is rated at 23/31/26 mpg. Other trims produce mileage results within 1 or 2 mpg, with even the AWD Kizashi returning 22/29/25 mpg.
Standard safety features on all 2012 Suzuki Kizashis include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Kizashi GTS with 18-inch wheels came to a stop in an excellent 114 feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Kizashi its top score of "Good" for frontal-offset and side-impact protection and its second-best score of "Acceptable" in roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi's interior is notable for its use of upscale materials and pleasing design. Not only is it uncharacteristically sophisticated for a Suzuki, but for midsize sedans in general. Passenger comfort is bolstered by ample headroom and well-shaped seats, although those riding in the backseat may find it lacking in legroom compared to most other midsize sedans.
Our complaints are few, with some noting that the oversized font on the radio display can only show a few characters at a time. Also, the trunk is on the small side, accommodating only 13.3 cubic feet of cargo.
For drivers looking for a little more excitement out of a family sedan, the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi should prove satisfying. With plenty of grip and adequately weighted steering, the Kizashi can easily take on curvy roads. The suspension tuning is a little firm, but it's not significant enough to sour the overall experience. We expect the Sport models, with a 10mm lower ride height, will be slightly stiffer still. On the highway, the Kizashi is quiet and gives drivers a long fuel range between fill-ups.
Output from the four-cylinder is adequate. The six-speed manual transmission's shifter can seem slightly vague for first-time drivers, but it becomes more intuitive with use. Unlike some other CVTs, the Kizashi's does an admirable job of keeping power on tap without much hesitation or the typical engine drone. The paddle shifters are an added plus for more sporting drivers who demand more control.