What's New for 2008
In its second year since a complete redesign, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 receives minor changes. Trim levels have been simplified and upper trims gain additional standard features. The base model is now only available in five-passenger form, but its price has been lowered.
If Costco's Kirkland Signature brand were to sell a car it would probably be a lot like the 2008 Suzuki XL7. Like the many Kirkland items, the XL7 is bulk-sized, with lots of features at a low price and an overall quality that slightly trails that of big-name brands. While you may not strive to own a Kirkland product or a Suzuki, it's hard to argue with the family-friendly value that each provides.
The second-generation XL7 is the largest SUV Suzuki has ever produced, dipping generously into partner GM's parts bin to create a mostly unique end product. Under the skin is a stretched platform shared with the Chevy Equinox and Pontiac Torrent twins, but the XL7 boasts its own distinctive styling (check out those funky headlights) and a 3.6-liter V6 engine designed by General Motors, but built by Suzuki in Japan. Even though it's equipped with only five seats, the base XL7 provides more maximum cargo capacity than a Honda Pilot at a price that rivals the Honda CR-V. Other trims offer a fold-flat third-row seat that provides enough room for children and maintains the ample storage capacity.
For 2008, Suzuki kindly cut down on the number of trim combinations, making buying an XL7 a little simpler. The base model's price was reduced, while features were added to some trims and subtracted from others. Unfortunately, the navigation system and rear seat DVD player still can't be ordered together. Nevertheless, the Limited is crammed full of family-friendly luxury goodies at a cost that's about equal to or even less than some competitors' base prices.
However, when the XL7's driving dynamics and interior quality are compared to impressive midsize or large crossover SUVs like the Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9 and Saturn Outlook, this big Suzuki falls way short. It is unremarkable to drive and its cabin looks pieced together from several different cars.
But if price seems to be a running theme, that's no mistake. Considering that the 2008 Suzuki XL7 is priced similar to compact crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, the Suzuki's quality difference versus the big boys isn't large enough to completely disregard the significant discount it provides. Whether you're buying a 3-liter tub of Kirkland cashews or a $26,000 SUV, value is difficult to ignore.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Suzuki XL7 is a midsize crossover SUV available in four trim levels: base, Premium, Luxury and Limited. All base models come with seating for five passengers, while the Limited has a fold-flat third-row seat that expands room to seven. The Premium and Luxury trims can be had with either five or seven seats.
The base trim comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, auto on/off headlamps, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, automatic climate control, trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Premium trim is similar, but adds 17-inch wheels, floor mats and available faux wood trim. The Luxury trim comes standard with leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof and an in-dash six-CD changer. The Premium and Luxury trim's third-row seat option includes rear-seat climate control.
The Limited adds 17-inch chrome wheels, foglamps, remote engine start, satellite radio, a premium Pioneer sound system and a touchscreen navigation system. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system can be substituted for the navigation system and sunroof as a no-cost option. Limited models can also be equipped with a parking camera displayed in the rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 XL7 features a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 252 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. It is connected to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. All trim levels are available with all-wheel drive except the base model, which is front-drive only. In performance testing a FWD XL7 went to 60 mph in a tidy 8.2 seconds. Fuel economy estimates for 2008 are 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for front-wheel-drive models, while all-wheel-drive versions rate practically the same, dropping the city rating by only 1 mpg. These figures are on par with other vehicles in the class.
The 2008 Suzuki XL7 comes standard with full-length side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control and traction control. It has performed well in government crash testing where it scored a perfect five stars in all frontal and side crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the XL7 its highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal offset crash test and its second-highest rating of "Acceptable" in side-impact crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The second-generation XL7 is the largest, most comfortable SUV Suzuki has ever built. The interior is spacious and functional, but the fit and finish of some interior pieces is a bit iffy. Also, we can live without the widely spaced window switches on the central console.
When it comes to head- and legroom, the XL7 is very roomy. Shoulder room, though, is narrower than that of most other midsize crossovers. The 60/40-split-folding middle-row seats tumble and fold, and the optional 50/50-split third-row seat can be folded flat into the floor for additional cargo-carrying room. Also, a fold-flat front passenger seat enables the XL7 to carry longer items with ease. With the rear seats lowered, the SUV has an impressive maximum cargo capacity of 95.2 cubic feet.
The 2008 Suzuki XL7's V6 engine provides power and fuel economy on par with some of the big names in this increasingly competitive segment. On the highway, the XL7 delivers a quiet and comfortable ride, but soft suspension settings result in cornering performance that's hardly sporty. This won't be a problem for the majority of buyers, but if you want a family SUV with a more athletic demeanor, you can always look at the Mazda CX-9 or Nissan Murano.