Full 2009 Suzuki XL7 Review
What's New for 2009
For 2009, the Suzuki XL7's base trim has been dropped and the third-row seat is standard across the line. Boosting both fuel efficiency and performance, a six-speed automatic transmission also comes online for 2009.
If Target were to sell a crossover SUV, we imagine it would be a lot like the 2009 Suzuki XL7. Like many of the non-brand-name products found in that popular store, whether it's a pair of blue jeans or kitchen accessories, the Suzuki XL7 offers solid quality and value along with some style. This Suzuki may not be the most prestigious or exciting choice, but it's hard to argue with getting a lot for your money.
Based on a stretched version of the platform found under the Chevy Equinox and Pontiac Torrent crossover twins, the XL7 boasts more room as well as a third-row seat. It also has distinctive styling and a muscular, 252-horsepower V6 engine designed by General Motors but built by Suzuki in Japan. This year also sees the debut of a six-speed automatic transmission that promises better performance and fuel efficiency compared to the previous five-speed auto.
As before, Suzuki's 2009 XL7 is also pleasant to drive and comes standard with a lot of upscale features -- even the lowest trim level boasts automatic climate control and a self-leveling rear suspension. Furthermore, although it's priced more like smaller crossovers, the XL7 is on the larger side in terms of passenger and cargo capacity.
When compared to top midsize or large crossover SUVs such as the Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander, the big Suzuki falls short. It's rather unremarkable to drive compared to the sporty Mazda and refined Highlander, and although build quality is respectable, some of the interior materials look and feel downmarket compared to the handsome Hyundai's. Overall, though, the 2009 Suzuki XL7 is worth a look for shoppers focused on value, what with its generous helping of standard features and long warranty coverage. Whether you're looking at a pair of jeans or a $26,000 SUV, value is difficult to ignore.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Suzuki XL7 is a midsize crossover SUV available in three trim levels: Premium, Luxury and Limited.
The Premium comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, an auto-leveling rear suspension, tinted windows, a third row seat, auto on/off headlamps, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, automatic climate control with rear controls, a trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Luxury trim adds leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof and an in-dash six-CD changer.
The Limited adds 17-inch chrome wheels, foglamps, remote engine start, satellite radio, a premium Pioneer sound system and a touchscreen navigation system. Limited models can also be equipped with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system (in lieu of the sunroof) as well as a rear parking camera that's displayed in the rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The XL7 features a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 252 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. It is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. All trim levels are available with all-wheel drive.
In performance testing, last year's FWD XL7 went to 60 mph in a tidy 8.2 seconds; we'd expect the new six-speed automatic to be slightly quicker. Fuel economy estimates stand at 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for front-wheel-drive models, while the all-wheel-drive version rates 1 mpg less across the board.
The 2009 Suzuki XL7 comes standard with full-length side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control and traction control. In government crash testing, 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 current XL7 is the largest, most comfortable SUV Suzuki has ever built. The interior is spacious and functional, though the quality of some interior pieces is a bit iffy, and we could live without the widely spaced window switches on the central console. When it comes to head- and legroom, the XL7 is quite accommodating. 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 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. There are some missteps, however -- third-row access is cumbersome due to the tumble-and-fold second row, and the third-row seat's head restraints must be removed and stored before folding, an extra step many competing vehicles don't require. With the rear seats lowered, the XL7 has an impressive maximum cargo capacity of 95 cubic feet.
The 2009 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 engaging demeanor and can stretch your budget, consider the Mazda CX-9 or Nissan Murano.