Full 2013 Suzuki Kizashi Review
What's New for 2013
An integrated touchscreen navigation system is added to the options list for 2013. That options list has been shuffled as well, along with trim level feature content, resulting in additional standard items.
The 2013 Suzuki Kizashi is a great car that was never given a chance. This sedan, sized between compact and midsize cars, offers a tremendous blend of attributes that many buyers should find very enticing. It's fun to drive, the brakes are superb and all-wheel drive is available. The standard features list is very generous, the price is reasonable and cabin quality is high. Cover up that stylized S badge and you might think you were actually in a Volkswagen.
Sadly, the Kizashi is likely the most overlooked car in a very, very crowded market segment, plus you'd be hard-pressed to find a dealer. And finally -- the great nail in the coffin -- Suzuki has ceased new car sales in the United States after filing for bankruptcy. You can still buy a Kizashi, the lengthy warranty will be honored and service facilities will remain open for the foreseeable future, but the B word is hard to overcome.
And yes, there are other drawbacks. This car is slightly smaller than its competition, so the backseat has less legroom than larger midsize sedans. The fuel economy is subpar from the four-cylinder engine. There isn't a more powerful optional engine. The new-for-2013 touchscreen navigation system also has a rather unimpressive technological display compared to the advanced systems of competitors. We'd skip it and stick with the well-sorted standard radio controls.
Last year, we said that the Suzuki Kizashi was still worthy of consideration despite these somewhat insignificant drawbacks. We noted that if you happen to live near a Suzuki dealer, it was a wonderful alternative to premium compacts like the Jetta and Ford Focus, or budget midsizers like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. In theory, that's still the case, but with the car company's bankruptcy, it's easy to pass on the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi and simply remember it fondly as the poor little car that was never given a shot.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Suzuki Kizashi is a family sedan sized between compact and midsize models. It is available in base, SE, Sport GTS and Sport SLS trims.
The base Kizashi comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a manual transmission only, full power accessories, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The SE adds an automatic transmission and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It is also eligible for certain options not available on the base car. These include heated mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-way power driver seat with adjustable lumbar and memory functions.
The Sport GTS features 18-inch wheels, transmission paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension and lowered ride height, a sport body kit, a rear spoiler, foglights, a sunroof, the power driver seat items, a sport steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shifter and hand brake lever, and Bluetooth audio streaming. The heated mirrors and Bluetooth phone connectivity are optional along with leather upholstery, a four-way passenger seat, upgraded interior trim, a navigation system (includes a touchscreen interface and a rearview camera) and a 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system.
All of the above items come standard on the Sport SLS along with all-wheel drive, automatic wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Satellite radio is a dealer-installed option.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Suzuki Kizashi is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 185 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The base model comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. All other trims get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is optional on the SE and Sport GTS, and standard on the Sport SLS.
In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Kizashi went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is average for a compact car (few midsize cars can be found with a manual). With the CVT, that time drops to 9.1 seconds, which is average for both compacts and midsizers.
Fuel economy with the CVT and front-wheel drive is 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. This is disappointing regardless of what size of car you compare the Kizashi to. The all-wheel-drive model gets 22/29/25, while the manual-equipped base car delivers 21/31/25.
Every 2013 Kizashi comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An enhanced stability control system is included with the available all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Kizashi with 18-inch wheels came to a stop in an excellent 114 feet -- nearly 10 feet better than most competitors.
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 2013 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.
Other complaints are not exactly substantial. Some have noted that the oversized font on the radio display can only show a few characters at a time -- this is specifically a problem with the iPod interface. The available navigation system is essentially an aftermarket unit with questionable functionality, so we'd skip it and buy an actual aftermarket head unit that's cheaper and doesn't compromise the audio system controls. 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 2013 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. 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 range between fill-ups.
Output from the four-cylinder is adequate, though its fuel economy will disappoint compared to newer competitors. 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.