Full 2010 Suzuki SX4 Review
What's New for 2010
A new variant of the Suzuki SX4 hatchback, the "Sportback," debuts for 2010. With visual tweaks, a firmer suspension and a lowered ride height, the Sportback adds some spice to the SX4 lineup. All SX4 models benefit from a new, more powerful engine and a pair of new transmissions: a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the latter of which replaces last year's four-speed automatic. Rounding out the SX4 changes this year are a restyled front fascia, a new instrument cluster, a height-adjustable driver seat, an auxiliary audio jack (delayed availability), a few new navigation features and some renamed trim levels.
Suzuki introduced its tall SX4 compact three years ago, and this hatchback (and later sedan) managed to catch our attention thanks to its roomy cabin, generous features list, available all-wheel drive, easy-driving demeanor and low cost. Our few complaints involved its rather tepid performance and below-class-average fuel economy.
This year, Suzuki addresses both gripes with a new, more powerful engine and two new transmissions that help boost fuel mileage by a couple of miles per gallon. A new trim level, the SX4 Sportback, has also been added to the mix. The Sportback is the hatchback model fitted with the performance upgrades of the Sport sedan. These upgrades include a lowered ride height, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension and body styling tweaks.
All SX4s this year gain a new 2.0-liter engine that puts out 150 horsepower (7 more hp than last year). The power gain by itself is not huge, but there's some added spring in the SX4's step thanks to those two new transmissions -- a six-speed manual and a CVT -- which replace last year's five-speed manual and four-speed auto. Other changes this year include a revised front fascia, a new instrument cluster, rear-seat floor vents and enhancements to the navigation system that include weather maps and even airline departure/arrival information.
The 2010 Suzuki SX4 takes the age-old approach of offering more for the money than the segment's established stars. For around the same price as a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris, the SX4 hatchback gives you a roomy cabin, a more powerful engine, sporty handling, power everything, a quieter highway ride and even available automatic climate control. And we'd definitely take the SX4 sedan over Nissan's Versa or Sentra, though it has tough rivals in the well-equipped Kia Forte, the sporty Mazda 3 and the tried-and-true Honda Civic. All said, the improved 2010 SX4 is a strong contender for the small sedan or hatchback shopper.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Suzuki SX4 is a compact car available in sedan or hatchback form. The sedan comes in standard and Sport versions, while the hatchback is offered as the base "Crossover" and the uplevel "Sportback." The sedans are front-wheel drive only, as is the Sportback. The Crossover can be had in either front- or all-wheel drive. In lieu of a lengthy options list, the SX4 comes in a multitude of trim levels.
The standard SX4 sedan comes in base, LE and LE Popular trims. Standard features on the base SX4 sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt steering wheel and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, but little else. Should you also want air-conditioning and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack (delayed availability), step up to the LE. The LE with Popular package adds the CVT (in place of the six-speed manual transmission), cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.
The SX4 Sport sedan comes in S, SE and GTS trims. The S comes with the LE sedan's equipment and adds a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, a lower body kit and a navigation system. The SE adds the LE Popular package sedan's features, and Bluetooth is optional. The GTS adds foglights, a rear spoiler, an upgraded audio system (with a six-disc CD changer), upgraded navigation features (MSN traffic, weather and airline flights), keyless entry/ignition and automatic climate control.
The SX4 Crossover comes in base, Technology and Touring AWD trims. The base Crossover comes with the LE sedan's features and adds 16-inch wheels, a roof rack and a rear wiper. The Technology trim adds the LE Popular package sedan's features along with the navigation system. The Touring AWD adds the GTS's features, except it has 16-inch wheels rather than 17s.
The Sportback comes only in loaded GTS trim, which includes the features of the Sport GTS sedan minus the CVT and MSN subscription, both of which are optional.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for all Suzuki SX4s comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 150 hp and 140 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a standard six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. When paired to the CVT, the engine's output drops slightly to 148 hp. All SX4s are front-wheel drive except for the Crossover hatchback, which offers an AWD option.
Fuel economy estimates for the SX4 range from 25 mpg city/32 highway and 28 mpg combined for the base sedan with the CVT (23/33/26 with the manual) down to 23/29/25 for the AWD Crossover with the CVT (22/30/25 with the manual).
Every 2010 Suzuki SX4 comes with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers. Traction and stability control are standard on the Sport GTS sedan, the Sportback and all Crossover trims.
In government crash testing, both SX4 body styles received four stars (out of five) for driver and passenger protection. In side impact tests, the SX4 earned five stars for the driver and four stars for the rear passenger. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the SX4 earned the top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Suzuki SX4's cabin has a clean design with large, three-dial climate control knobs that sit just below a compact, well-labeled stereo. The optional navigation system has a small display screen and an aftermarket look, but it's surprisingly useful. The quality of some interior plastics isn't as high as in some rivals, however.
The SX4 earns high marks for its voluminous headroom, though we've found actual driver comfort a bit hit-or-miss. Some of our editors have found the elevated seating position very comfortable, while others complain about the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. Legroom can be tight for adults seated in back, but the high rear seat cushion provides good thigh support.
In the hatchback, the 60/40-split rear seatbacks flip forward to open up an impressive 54 cubic feet of cargo space, just 3 cubes shy of the marvelous Honda Fit (though the seats don't fold flat like they do in the Fit). The sedan sports a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and offers a generous 15 cubic feet of trunk capacity -- equal to that of many midsize sedans.
Though it has a powerful engine compared to its subcompact competition, the 2010 Suzuki SX4 is still no hot rod. Its typically heavier curb weight negates any advantage, and the 2.0-liter four is predictably light on low-end torque. Nonetheless, acceleration is satisfactory for a small car. The Crossover AWD, due to its smaller fuel tank, also suffers from poor range, with gas station stops a too-frequent annoyance.
The SX4 boasts a smooth, refined ride quality on most surfaces. Big bumps don't upset the suspension much, and its character over broken pavement is firm but composed. With their lower-profile 17-inch tires and firmer suspensions, the Sport versions are the handlers of the lot, with a minimum of body roll through the corners. For vehicles with "Sport" in their names, however, their lack of steering feedback is disappointing.