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2010 Suzuki Kizashi: What's It Like to Live With?

Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS as our editors live with this car for a year.

Suzuki Kizashi 2010

What do you want to know about?


This guy's fat, 50, stuffed into a sparkly Ed Hardy shirt and walking around our new long-term test car. "Kizashi" he mouths silently, reading the oversized, overstyled badge on the trunk, and keeps walking toward the driver side of our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS. His eyes widen and a smile crosses his face. He pulls close the girl, wearing improbably high stilettos for a trip to the grocery store, and laughs, exclaiming, "Suzuki!"

We lock eyes with him and then thumb the remote, unlocking the car and flashing the lights. He does the same, flashing the lights on a silver Mercedes-Benz CLK. "Cute," we say. "Your girlfriend lets you hold the keys." We've gotten into fights over less.

It seems only right to defend the honor of the new Suzuki. After all, it's been a long road for the minor carmaker and this new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi deserves a clean slate and a fresh perspective. At least we think so; that's why we've added one to our fleet for the next 12 months.

Why We Got It
Previously, owners of a Suzuki-brand automobile could be classified into four specific groups: 1) RVers who needed something towable; 2) budget-minded off-roaders; 3) kids whose dads had won a Suzuki dealership in a card game thinking they were getting a motorcycle shop; and 4) crazy people (See: Suzuki X-90). A Suzuki was always a little quirky, which works for Subaru but made Suzuki justifiably fearful of sliding into obscurity like Isuzu. Suzuki realized it had to make a dramatic change.

First the SX4 came around. It wasn't exactly cutting-edge, but it was stylish and functional, and offered inexpensive navigation and all-wheel drive in a convenient package. The SX4 was, however, a continuation of what Suzuki might be best known for: platform-sharing. See, the SX4 was not based on an original Suzuki platform and instead was built in partnership with Fiat — the SX4 was sold elsewhere as the Fiat Sedici. And the car the Kizashi is replacing, the Forenza? Yeah, that's a rebadged Daewoo.

Well, now that you know that, forget it. What we're dealing with here is genuine Suzuki through-and-through that can hold its own against the Acura TSX (the old, good, small one), Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Jetta.

What We Got
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi comes equipped with a 2.4-liter inline-4 making 185 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. While a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters is available, small engines + CVTs have left a bad taste in our mouth (see: long-term Jeep Compass) and we ordered up the six-speed manual with front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive, the same system featured by our long-term 2009 Suzuki SX4, is available). This drivetrain combination finishes the EPA testing with a fuel-economy estimate of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

The list of standard equipment is impressive: traction and stability control, eight airbags, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, and a tilt-telescoping leather steering wheel with audio controls. Our GTS model adds a power sunroof, Rockford Fosgate audio system with iPod/USB integration, Bluetooth hands-free telephone connectivity, foglights and 18-inch wheels with P235/45R18 all-season Dunlop SP 7000 tires.

And then there are some options. Premium floor mats cost $125. Platinum metallic paint runs $130 and body-side moldings are $125. All in all, our new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS stickers for $23,614.

The Road Ahead
Suzuki has come a long way with this vehicle. From rebadging Daewoos to what, on its face, seems like a strong competitor to the long-standing German and Japanese benchmarks, this is a mission-critical car for the company.

Fresh off a 12-month test of a 2009 Suzuki SX4, we're already nervous about Suzuki's shrinking dealer network and already afraid that this Suzuki will have the same limited cruising range as the SX4.

Maybe we should take a page from our own book, though, and stop judging this car based on past Suzukis. This is a different animal made to feed in the deep end. For the next 12 months we'll put 20,000 miles on our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi to see if the effort and dedication have paid off or if the company should have stuck to scavenging around the fringes of the automotive market.

Current Odometer: 890
Best Fuel Economy: 27.2 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 22.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 24.6 mpg

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Nice Paint

March 15, 2010

So I was transporting this 20-foot tall olive tree through the moonroof of our new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS this weekend, and boy, was it ever the right long-termer for the job. My camera sometimes has trouble with low-light situations, but I was admiring our new Kizashi's paint at sunset in my driveway this weekend. Many manufacturers offer metallic silver, but our Suzuki's $380 premium paint looks especially deep, lustrous, and well, "premium."

Aside from our GTS's excellent manual shifter and intuitive clutch uptake, I also noticed the brakes in our car were less abrupt with a more intuitive jump-in compared to the first preproduction Kizashi SLS I drove (mostly at our test track). Good omen.

Yet, this car has the same solid build, same nimble compliance, same "seems-like-a-more-expensive-car-than-it-is" feeling. I know this is the car nobody saw coming, but I suspect our staff are be going to be pleasantly surprised and will have a hard time picking its nits.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 1,660 miles

Feels Expensive

March 17, 2010

Everything about the Suzuki Kizashi feels more deluxe and expensive than its modest price tag suggests. The center stack is a good example. The buttons and knobs feel luxury-car solid to the touch, and their movement is well-damped and precise. Nothing is flimsy, nothing is lightweight, and nothing feels anything less than carefully thought-through.

The layout looks great too, with the sort of tasteful metallic accents seen in top entry-luxury sedans. Hello, dark horse. Suzuki has come out of nowhere to deliver one of the most impressive picks in a very competitive segment.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

SmartPass is standard on all of them

March 18, 2010

Wow. Our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS has a ton of convenience features.

I drove it for the first time last night. One pleasant surprise is that smart entry and push button start (which Suzuki bundles together and calls "SmartPass") is standard on our $23,614 GTS (includes freight).

What's amazing is that even the lowest trim level Kizashi S at $19,000 has SmartPass as standard.

Need I remind you that our long-term $90K BMW 750 has push button start, but not the optional smart entry? I didn't think so.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 1860 miles

Wheel Funny

March 19, 2010

Having a mother who switches cars nearly every day makes my daughter pretty popular at school. Unfortunately, her exposure to so many different cars also provides considerable grist for the underdeveloped humor mill lodged securely in her fourth-grade brain.

"If the Challenger has five-spoke wheels," she asked last night, "What do you call the Kizashi's wheels?"

"Multi-spoke," I said.

"I don't really care," she responded. "I just wanted to say Kizashi."

Get it? Me neither.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 1,940 miles

Refinement on a Budget

March 23, 2010

Years ago, I wrote a road test about the 2004 Suzuki Verona and I remember thinking that, while everything was perfectly fine, this car offered no excitement. Flash forward to the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS. I liked this car right away — not so much for the excitement factor but for its remarkable refinement.

My personal car is a 2007 Honda Fit and I'm always amazed at how smoothly it idles — you almost have to look at the tachometer to see if it's running. The Kizashi's inline-4 cylinder, 185-horsepower engine is similar; even as you accelerate through the gears, it's so well balanced that there is almost a complete lack of vibration. This communicates a sense of ease to the driver that's very enjoyable.

I didn't get a chance to push this car at all (though a trip to San Diego is in the near future) so I can't comment on the handling except to say that the steering is reasonably communicative and the car seems to invite the driver to toss it into a corner.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,010 miles

A Great Long Driver

March 26, 2010

To get more distance off the tee I bought a long-shafted driver which I usually need to take out of my golf bag and put in diagonally to fit in a car trunk. Not the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS, which not only swallowed the whole bag but the wide opening made it easy to slide it in place.

The clubs were along for the 75-mile drive to San Diego for a golf tournament. I was looking forward to seeing what the car felt like on the open road and found it to be very stable at high speeds. The cabin is well insulated both for noise and vibration. And on the freeway, the visibility for lane changing is excellent.

I was hoping to crack 30 mpg on the open road. The fuel economy gauge was reading 30 mpg but when I filled up and did it the old fashioned way, I got only 28.2 mpg over about 190 miles of driving.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,310 miles

You Look Puzzled. Don't Be.

March 29, 2010

For some reason I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching me while I was behind the wheel of our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. Hrm.

Regardless, I like how clean and clear these gauges are. Everything was easy to figure out without reading the manual. For instance, the dimmer is that long, easy-to-access knob below the right gauge. And the display in the center lets you choose between average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, average speed, range and nothing via a lever at the bottom of the steering wheel.

The tripmeter can be changed from Trip A to Trip B to temperature with the other lever on the steering wheel. So easy!

Only thing is that that center display seems like it has a lot of extra real estate for other information but nope, that's it. At least you can't miss it.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 2,329 miles

Fun Handler, But What's With The Throttle?

March 30, 2010

Finally drove our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi last night, and was pleasantly surprised by its handling. The powertrain could use some fine-tuning, though.

It's pretty sharp in terms of body control and steering precision. And the grip! Clingier than I expected.

Plus, it's apparent the the bodyshell is stiff — the taut damping is allowed to work effectively, and the car feels quite solid... both when you straddle its wheels cross-corner over a drainage rut (and thus load it torsionally), or when a single tire whacks a bump.

Yeah, the steering's could use a tick more feel overall and is a bit goofy around center. Has that electric-y hysteresis. But the helm is reasonably quick. In summary I give the chassis a B+.

The powertrain, hmmm. Forget power for a minute and think power delivery. Irrespective of how much (or how little, in this case) power an engine makes, we want a snappy response here — both when the throttle is initially cracked and also when it's flicked shut.

The Kizashi, though, has quite a lazy throttle takeup when you're feeding in the pedal for a normal launch, and then hangs onto revs when you want to shift. I blame the drive-by-wire throttle calibration. It's trying too hard to smooth things out, and the result is that it feels like Suzuki installed sloppy engine mounts and a giant flywheel.

Not a huge deal, but the whole Kizashi package would be more cohesive were it better. Especially as the chassis exhibits some inherent goodness.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Goldilocks Would Be Happy

April 02, 2010

I really like the driver seat of our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. For as many cars I get in and out of on this job, it's actually pretty rare for me to find a seat that fits just right. Usually it's either my feet are comfortably close to the pedals but I'm up against the steering wheel or I'm at the perfect distance from the wheel but my feet can't quite reach the pedals.

But with our Kizashi, everything fits juuust right. With the seat-height adjuster I'm at the perfect distance from the wheel and the pedals, and bonus that there's lumbar support and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. (All standard equipment!) Now, if it had seat heaters, I would never leave.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 2,450 miles

Getting The Word Out

April 06, 2010

I had our long-term Suzuki Kizashi last weekend and used it to visit family for Easter. The handsome-looking Kizashi attracted a fair amount of attention when I parked it outside my in-laws' house. I was bemused by the various reactions, though, as nobody knew what it was.

One uncle didn't know Suzuki even made cars, while my father-in-law joked about the Kizashi's Japanese-sounding name. My sister-in-law, however, seemed genuninely interested since she's thinking about replacing her previous-generation Mazda 6.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 2,882 miles

Decent-Sized Trunk

April 07, 2010

That Easter visit I wrote about yesterday was actually for a few days, so I had the Kizashi loaded up with stuff. You can kind of see the loaded trunk in that first photo, but here's a close-up. The Kizashi's trunk is listed at 13.3 cubic feet, which is 2 or 3 cubes smaller than the norm. Even so, I was pretty impressed with what I could fit in here, with the trunk being sufficiently wide and tall enough for most items. The only problem I encountered was the trunk hinges, which do take up space when you close the trunk lid.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Liking the Keyless Ignition/Entry

April 09, 2010

As Al's post from a few weeks ago noted, all 2010 Suzuki Kizashis come standard with keyless ignition/entry (Suzuki's "SmartPass"). We've had it on a few long-term cars over the years, and I continually find it a useful and desirable feature. With it, there's no more fumbling for a set of keys or trying to dig them out of your pocket when your hands are full of stuff.

One nice thing I like about the Kizashi is that since SmartPass is standard, Suzuki was able to design the interior specifically for a clean look. It makes me think of the contrast presented by our departed Mazda 6, which had optional keyless ignition/entry but was fitted with a plastic blank where the normal key ignition would go and a tacked-on push-button start in the lower center console. Also, if you don't like keeping the Suzuki's key in your pocket, there's a small storage slot on the left side of the steering wheel that works pretty well for storing the key.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Impressive Ride Quality

April 12, 2010

One of the highlights we called out in our initial Kizashi road test is the car's composed ride quality. I didn't get a chance to drive the test car we had in, but our long-term Kizashi's ride has certainly impressed me.

The Kizashi drives with a European-tuned quality to it, with the suspension soaking up bumps without being harsh but also not being overly floaty. I even made a trip in Kizashi last weekend loaded up with three other adults and the Kizashi still didn't feel overburdened. Along with the high-quality interior, this impressive ride quality makes the Suzuki Kizashi seem like a cut above most other small or midsize sedans.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 2,997 miles

Succeeds Where the SX4 Failed

April 16, 2010

While our long-term Suzuki SX4 suffered from sluggish acceleration and a limited fuel range, the Kizashi has no such problems. Its 185-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is pretty competitive as small or midsize sedans go, and you'll get a zero-to-60 mph sprint in 8.3 seconds (without rollout) with the six-speed manual transmission. For comparison, the last manual-equipped VW Jetta we tested with the 2.5-liter engine clocked a time of 8.6 seconds. As for fuel range, getting around 350 freeway miles from a tank of gas is no problem.

The more I drive this car, the more I like it.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

All it Needs is Power

April 20, 2010

Our long term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS is as impressive dynamically as it is in the showroom. The handling, the braking, and especially the steering are very nice, and all of these parameters rank it as one of the top performers in the small sedan category.

Where our Kizashi is lacking, however, is in locomotion: this engine feels weak. Although the 2.4L DOHC 16-valve I4 is smooth and doesn't mind the revs, it only makes 185hp and 170 lb-ft of torque.

This chassis is so good it feels like it could handle another 100hp.
Hopefully, the Kizashi will eventually get a V6 and at least an additional 50hp.

Then we will have difficulty in finding something negative to say about this car.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 3,535 miles

Guess the iPod Track

April 21, 2010

The Sizashi Kuzuki's iPod interface is actually quite good. The processing time is quick and the controls are easy enough to figure out. Unfortunately, the screen's font size is so humungous, you can barely tell what you're looking at. It would be even worse if we had satellite radio (that button's a dud)

So I've decided to invent a new game: Guess the iPod track. Those who successfully identify all eight of these tracks from my iPod using the Kisaski's jumbo screen will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Gilligan Islands.

I'm sure I could've made it harder, but this was just a random sampling. Still, no cheating.












James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,572 miles

The Commute Option

April 23, 2010

We all know what a manual transmission is for, right? It's ripping that shift into second on the way to get the Sunday newspaper and designer coffee, correct? This would be why your gear cluster is making a death rattle as if it's from some abused, Hewland dog-ring gearbox.

It might come as a shock to you, but a manual transmission can be just the thing for commuting, and the Suzuki Kizashi does it great. Who would have thought?

For a start, get rid of your preconceptions about short-throw shift linkages, which cleverly increase lever effort so the interval to change gear actually takes more time, not less. It does pump up your bicep, though, so you can feel manly.

Instead, learn to appreciate the Suzuki's relatively long shift throws, which require little effort. Sure, the shift gates don't feel close together or tightly defined when you throw the lever around when the engine is stopped. But once you're on the move, you can throw the lever into gear without thinking, which is definitely what you want during commute hour. What we have here is just the right compromise between vague and floppy and tight and obstructive, a very sophisticated, slick feel that rates with the best of any comparably priced European car.

The Kizashi's friendliness with a manual transmission extends to the power band of this inline-4 engine. It has a kind of elasticity in the gears, a willingness to carry power through a wide range of rpm. This is the result of not just decent torque, but also a free-revving ability to escalate rpm at a rate that is predictable without being either sluggish or frenetic. And the ratios in the gearbox itself seem very well matched to the power delivery, so you can take even better advantage of the power that's available.

We're always rattling on about the way a manual transmission makes it fun to drive the open road. But it turns out that a manual transmission also makes the Suzuki Kizashi pretty good when the road is anything but open.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 3,634 miles

Nice Wheel

April 26, 2010

Most long-term cars' blogs are filled with criticism. Yet, the more we drive our new Kizashi, the more we're finding things we like about it. I think Jay was a little too critical of the throttle, but otherwise, it's been a love fest. We've already commented on its nice paint, ample trunk space, good seats, the quality of its ride, and now the steering wheel deserves some praise, as well.

The leather is supple and the diameter of the wheel is appropriate. My hands fall naturally into the 9-3 position with my thumbs comfortably anchored on the spokes. What's more, not only are the standard audio and cruise control buttons/toggles in just the right places, their combination of rubber and metallic construction make them feel substantial, they snap back smartly, and function on the first push. Unlike the universally hated Camaro steering wheel, this is an example of "how to do it right." It's hard to believe this is a sub-$25K automobile.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 3,910 miles

PES Headlamps Standard

April 29, 2010

Our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS has a standard halogen Polyellipsoid headlamp system or PES (Poly-Ellipsoid-System, pronounced pez). They are commonly known as Projector lamps, as they operate similarly to a slide projector.

The advantages of PES over Reflector-type headlamps include better control of the reach, width, and uniformity of the pattern, and the ability to package a smaller lamp with similar output. Then there's styling — PES lamps look cooler than Reflector.

Of course, PES lamps are more expensive to produce than Reflector headlamps, and all Kizashis across the board get PES, including the lowest trim level S at $19K (just like SmartPass.)

The Suzuki Kizashi comes well-equipped — standard.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 4,040 miles (Challenger Reflector lamp)

Sweating the Details

May 03, 2010

Sometimes you'll have a car that's basically very competent — good performance, smooth ride, respectable handling. And then the manufacturer drops the ball on some of the small things (no telescoping wheel, maybe excessive road noise). Not so with the Kizashi. At first blush I was impressed by this Suzook's refined, willing engine and well-balanced chassis. Then I noticed a few of the small touches that make a difference in everyday driving.

Take the sun visors extenders; not all cars have them and most that do don't stretch out nearly as much as these ones. They worked great when the sun would've otherwise zapped me by sneaking in that space between the standard visors. And there is the trunk lid that is lined (unlike say, an Accord LX's) and has a pull-down handle which makes it easier and cleaner (no need to touch the outer lid) to close.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 4,150 miles

Road Trip Notes

May 06, 2010

I took the Kizashi on a 650-mile road trip from Los Angeles to Monterey and my initial impressions, those being that this is a refined and thoughtfully-equipped car, were cemented. (I snapped the picture while driving through wine country — sorry the light is harsh but the photo-op was too good to resist).

Right off the bat, the Kizashi gives off a feeling of quality — you grab a nicely padded (not hard plastic as in most rivals) handle to shut the door which closes with a solid "thunk". Underway, the shifter/clutch are light and easy to work and the 2.4-liter four is willing and smooth right up to redline. Though passing tractor-trailers on the ascending "Grapevine" section of the 5 required a sixth-to-fourth downshift and some patience, the power was otherwise more than adequate. Once I settled into cruise mode on the freeway, the Kizashi (the name reminds me of that cereal) was quiet, comfortable and composed. For the trip, I averaged 29.4 mpg which lends credence to the EPA highway figure of 29 mpg.

On the l-o-n-g freeway run I appreciated the aforementioned adjustable sun visors that kept Old Sol from burning my retinas and the well-shaped seats. Under thigh- and lumbar support in particular were solid, thanks to a generous seat cushion and the power lumbar support that kept my compressed L4 vertebra happy. Hooking up/using my iPod was easy, but as James noted it doesn't spell out the whole name of a given selection. A scrolling feature for this would be nice.

I'm not a big fan of the headlight and taillight styling, but if that's my biggest gripe after a couple of 325-mile days, then Suzuki is doing something right.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 4,834 miles

5,000-mile Milestone

May 10, 2010

Our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS is officially 5,000-miles into its long-term test and showing no signs of wear, has no squeaks or rattles, and the fuel economy remains impressive. In a bunch of ways, this Kizashi reminds me of our former Mitsu Lancer GTS long-termer — only the quality of the interior materials is far better in the Kizashi. But like the Lancer, the Kizashi provides a genuine alternative to the ubiquitous Civic, Corolla, (and in some places) Cobalt that people seem to buy like Kleenex (facial tissue), Band-Aid (bandages), and Jet Ski (personal water craft) without ever considering Puffs, Curad, or Sea-Doo. I'm afraid that as good as the Suzuki Kizashi's driving dynamics, value, and styling are, Suzuki's lack of dealerships, service locations, and advertising will not be enough to sustain it in this competitive market. Hey, we're doing our part to get the word out. How 'bout you?

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 5,027 miles

Now This Is a Clean Stereo Design

May 12, 2010

Just a quick shot out to the boys in Hamamatsu for the design of the Kizashi's head unit. That's about as clean a setup as you're going to find these days. Nicely spaced out buttons, knobs for volume and tuning and readable labels all around. Doesn't seem too hard does it?

Well, it is, at least judging by the number of poorly designed dashboards I see on a regular basis. Granted, the Kizashi's stereo doesn't have as many features as some of its competitors, but it's not exactly a stripper deck either. They kept it simple and it works.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 5,089 miles

Wide Range

May 24, 2010

I don't usually pay much attention to fuel range indicators in cars, unless I'm soooooo low that I look for reassurance that I'll make it to the next gas station.

But when I got in our Suzuki Kizashi on Friday, it was already set to show the fuel range, which was 85 miles. I started to head home and noticed that after about 10 quick freeway miles, the range had increased to 125 miles.

When I arrived at home, 65 minutes and 33 miles later, the fuel range indicator has settled on 35 miles.

Now I know that stop-and-go city driving and freeway time can wreak havoc with your gas mileage, but I've never seen an indicator vary so widely in such a short amount of time/distance.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 5721 miles

Much Rather Have This Engine Than a TDI

May 25, 2010

Yeah, you read that right. I switched into this Suzuki after spending the weekend in a Golf TDI and I was surprised how much I preferred the Kizashi's smooth running four-cylinder. Seriously, the Kizashi felt like a Lexus in comparison.

I mean, sure the Golf's TDI engine is nice for a diesel, but you don't realize how rough it really is until you swap it for a gasoline equivalent. Granted, the TDI returns much better mileage than the Suzuki's gas burner, but it's not like the Kizashi is sucking it down at some furious rate. I'd take it over the Golf for sure, or at least a Golf TDI that is.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 5,832 miles

Would You Mistake This For a More Expensive Car?

June 04, 2010

More than one of us has encountered a curious bystander who thought our Suzuki Kizashi was some kind of new entry-level luxury car. We usually just chuckle knowing that it has a small, four-cylinder engine and a sticker price doesn't even top $24,000.

Still, there's something to be said for a car that looks more expensive than it is, especially when that car is a Suzuki.

I commuted in our Kizashi for three or four days when I was on a jury in downtown Los Angeles recently, and I never remember thinking of the Kizashi as a cheap car. At nearly $24K, it is not in fact cheap, but for a company like Suzuki to take a step up on the price ladder and succeed is no small task. So far, I think the Kizashi is proving that it's possible.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 5,922 miles

Not an Audiobook Lover

June 07, 2010

I'm far from being a huge audiobook fan, but I do have one or two saved on my iPod. This weekend, I tried to listen to one while in the Kizashi, but initially, the car's iPod interface wasn't having it. On an iPod, you can select "Audiobook" from the main menu and choose the book you'd like to listen to. The Kizashi's interface, however, doesn't offer "Audiobook" as a selection in the main menu; the only choices are "Album," "Artist," "Songs," "Playlist" and "Genre." Bummer.

Happily, I was able to access the audiobook by first selecting it on the iPod and then connecting the player to the Kizashi. But then I realized that the Kizashi's interface wouldn't allow me to scroll from chapter to chapter within the audiobook.

Again, I'm not a huge audiobook guy, but I have listened to a couple while in our other test cars, and I don't remember ever having this problem. Does your car's iPod interface recognize audiobooks?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 6,316 miles


June 09, 2010

I recently spent some time in the 2010 Audi A5 2.0T in preparation for an Edmunds test drive that I'll be writing on the car. Immediately after the A5 left, I was placed in our long-term Kizashi for the night.

I was expecting the Kizashi to feel like a huge step down after the A5; after all, one's a premium European coupe and the other's an affordably priced family hauler. Instead, I was struck by how refined the Kizashi is; it really does hold its own, even in comparison to a car like the Audi. Its ride is pleasant and well-balanced, and the feel of the switchgear in its cabin is comparable to that experienced in entry-level luxury models. Its cabin looks polished and elegant, as does its sheet metal. The Suzy is fast becoming one of my favorites in the midsize family sedan segment.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Solid Long Drive Companion

June 10, 2010

Over the past couple of days I've put about 750 miles on our Suzuki Kizashi, nearly all of it on the freeway. The Kizashi proved to be an enjoyable companion. I appreciated the sophisticated ride quality, reasonably quiet cabin, comfortable driver seat (more telescope for the steering wheel would be appreciated, though) and the suitable storage space for road trip paraphernalia. Also impressive was the wide fuel range (I drove 407 miles on one tank and the fuel light hadn't even come on yet) and good fuel economy (32.6 mpg observed average versus EPA highway of 29 mpg). Go Kizashi!

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Upscale Look, Unusual Name

June 14, 2010

Well, I'll say this: attracting attention doesn't seem to be a problem. Thanks to its upscale look (check out the handsome 18-inch wheels that tuck nicely into the wheel wells, for instance), I was fielding a lot of questions about our Kizashi GTS this weekend. I took it to a barbeque and a kiddie birthday party and in both cases other attendees would ask me about the car as I was either arriving or departing.

"What is it?" was the most common question. Of course, I'd say "a Suzuki Kizashi!" and watch as a predictable puzzled look would creep across the person's face. One guy must have heard "Subaru" since he started asking me about the Outback. Another wondered if it was an Audi competitor. Umm, not exactly. Even so, it's nice to see that people are interested.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,076 miles

Still Waiting To Cool Down

June 16, 2010

Some cars have truly impressive air-conditioning capacity. Crank up the A/C and it's like you've opened a direct portal to an arctic weather front. The Kizashi is not one of those cars, however. I had the Kizashi in some 100-degree temperatures recently and the A/C struggled. Chilled air? Sure. Modestly comforting? OK. But finger-numbing, nipply cold? Sorry, no can do.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

425-Watts of Goodness

June 21, 2010

I hadn't really listened to the Kizashi's stereo much before this weekend. With all of its visible branding I figured it must be a notch above your standard family sedan spec stereo, but I've seen that ploy before.

This time I was proven correct after connecting an iPod through the USB port in the console. There's plenty of power, good separation and fairly clean bass from the 10-speaker system. The bass isn't particularly deep, but it doesn't rattle or get distorted easily either. Having the tweeters on the doors does make them susceptible to getting covered up, but it's a minor issue for the most part.

There are some pretty slick satellite controls on the steering wheel too. Good feel to the switches and they're logically placed. Overall, a solid system, especially considering that it comes standard on the GTS model.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 7,567 miles

2010 Suzuki Kizashi as Wedding Limo

June 28, 2010

I attended a surprise wedding on Friday night. See, the bride and groom invited a small group of friends and family onto a yacht in Marina del Rey to celebrate their engagement. However, the arrangement of the upper deck's chairs quickly gave away that we were actually attending their wedding. It was a lovely, casual affair.

As we were disembarking the boat, the groom mentioned that he needed to call the car service to drive he and his bride the mile and change to the Ritz Carlton where we'd all be continuing the party. I then said, half-jokingly, "Would you like a ride in a Suzuki instead?"

To my surprise, the groom looked at me somewhat intrigued — I'm guessing partly because he liked the idea of not paying for the car service and partly because of the word "Suzuki." At that point I felt the need to qualify that it was "Suzuki's new midsize sedan. It's actually really quite nice."

"Sure man, if you don't mind."

Of course I didn't, and thus, our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi was called into service as a wedding limo. Who saw that coming?

Now, their wedding departure was hardly on par with My Best Friend's Wedding, where Cameron Diaz and Dermot Mulroney exit through a driveway lined with fireworks in a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, but they clearly didn't care. I must say they were nevertheless surprised and pleased by our humble Kizashi.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't get the Miata for the weekend.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 7,658 miles

Still the One

July 08, 2010

I'd been eager to spend some time in the new Sonata, to see how it compares to the Kizashi. Both are well-received upstarts that have managed to shake things up in the notoriously competitive family-sedan segment.

They're both great sedans, but if I were in the market, I'd have to go with the Kizashi — it just feels so much more refined than anything else in the segment. I know I'm sounding like a broken record here with my endless torrent of gushing praise for the Suzy, but hey — you've gotta give praise where praise is due.

Of course, the Kizashi also one of the smaller choices in its category, so if having the most rear legroom and trunk space is important to you, it ain't the best bet.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Does the Name Hurt or Help?

July 23, 2010

It's an age-old debate: Names or numbers. American cars used to have cool names. Now all too many of them have forgettable alpha-numeric designations that make them almost indistinguishable.

Suzuki didn't mess around with this sedan. No Esteem L or SX5 badges on this sucker. Suzuki just went ahead and gave it the most Japanese-sounding name it could think of and let the market decide.

So what do you think? Would this sedan have been better off with a more common name or number?

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 8,125 miles

The New MKIV Jetta?

July 24, 2010

A few days ago we published a first drive of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. The models sixth generation. Which got me to thinking. The MKIV or fourth generation Jetta was by far the coolest, and by the way, the most popular of all Jettas. Sold from the late 1990s to 2005, the fourth gen Jetta was simply cooler then its price tag would have had you believe. It looked more expensive than it was and it had a certain "it" factor no other car in its class could claim.

Because of that "cool factor" the MKIV Jetta was the first econobox sold in America that was bought by folks that could afford more. They bought it because they wanted one, not because it was just cheap transportation. In a way, the fourth gen Jetta created the premium small car class in America that is now owned by the Mini Cooper. Bottom line, it was cool to have a Jetta.

I've been spending some time in our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS, and I think it's the new MKIV Jetta. This car is cool. Much cooler than anything else at its price point. People look at this car. People ask about it when you park. It has that "it" factor the Jetta lost and no other small sedan has ever grabbed. When you drive it around you feel like you got far more car then you paid for. I think it's only a matter of time before it catches on big.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Clunked by the Trunk

July 26, 2010

Made a trip to the grocery store on Sunday morning, and as I loaded my bags into the Suzuki Kizashi's trunk, I bumped my head twice on the edge of the raised trunk lid.

There were 10 bags, none of them very full, so it's not like I was reaching deep into the Kizashi's inner cavern. I was just basically standing at the bumper setting bags along the edge. (Carefully, since the Suzuki is sans cargo net).

After I whacked my crown the second time, I got a little annoyed.

Does the trunk lid stop at a weird angle, or at 5' 7" am I just the perfect height for a cargo-loading head injury?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 8,363 miles

ShakyCam Walkaround

July 27, 2010
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Details Done Right

July 28, 2010

It had been months since I've been in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, and when I got into it last night, I was struck by the shifter for the car's six-speed manual transmission. Medium-length throws. Nice, positive feel from gate to gate. (Credit to Kurt for the photo)

Small details, but they're fast becoming a lost art among cars in this price range. Automakers know they'll sell but a handful of manual-shift models, so many companies don't spend the extra time and money to polish the rough edges. Suzuki has taken the extra step here.

Mind you, it's not all perfect with the Kizashi's six-speed. I wish the clutch offered more feel when it's about to engage. This, in combination with a little more off-the-line torque, would smooth out launches when driving in town.

After the jump, I offer a quick and dirty video of another of my favorite Kizashi details: Auto-up power windows that slooww down just before they're all the way closed. Not sure if it's part of the pinch-protection measures or just to help with sealing, but it's cool and makes the car seem more refined.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,442 miles

Recall and First Service

July 29, 2010

Suzuki recently issued a recall on 5,107 Kizashi vehicles in the U.S. to replace the instrument panel lower box, which may open in a crash, according to the NHTSA. We contacted Suzuki to confirm the recall applied to our vehicle, which it did. Our Kizashi was also due for its first scheduled maintenance. So we dropped it off at our most convenient dealership (47 miles away) this morning to address both items.

Quality Suzuki in Midway City had the vehicle for about an hour before calling us. "Your service is complete. But we won't have the parts for the recall until late this afternoon. We close at 6pm, so there is a good chance we won't have the work completed until tomorrow morning. What would you like to do?"

We decided to pick the car up this afternoon and take it back tomorrow morning for the recall work. More on the cost breakdown and service experience to follow.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 8,450 miles

Service and Candy

August 02, 2010

We brought our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi in for its first service last Thursday. When we went back to pick it up, a bill for $74.03 and this (below) was waiting for us. Oh yeah, it's candy. And I ate it all.

On Friday we took it back to have the recall performed. Our wait was minimal and, of course, done under warranty. Now we're back on the road.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 8,484 miles

Our Suzuki Kizashi vs. Another Guy's Lexus IS 350

August 03, 2010

In the Kizashi's favor:
--> Gray paint
--> Manual transmission
--> Has this innovative convenience feature known as rear legroom
--> Lovingly driven by the Edmunds staff
--> The thrill of exclusivity; only 3,002 sold in first 7 months of 2010

In the IS 350's favor:
--> Even grayer paint
--> 3 seconds quicker to 60 mph using innovative "mash throttle" launch technique
--> Not driven by the Edmunds staff
--> The thrill of following the crowd; 19,242 IS models sold in first 7 months of 2010

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

The Perfect Paint Color

August 05, 2010

The exterior of our Suzuki Kizashi is absolutely filthy. And you can't even tell.

Besides the fact that it makes the Kizashi look way more expensive than it really is, the Platinum Metallic paint hides dirt like nobody's business.

I wish I could paint my daughter's room this color.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

It Has Cool Gauges

August 09, 2010

The Suzuki Kizashi's gauges (or gages if you're from Kentucky) are one of the cabin's stand-out elements. There is a chronograph quality to them with the oh-so-many hash marks that add a bit of sophistication. Sure, they aren't as easy to read as say, these or these, but they look more interesting. It's the same reason someone would rather have some fancy TAG Heuer Aquaracer rather than a digital Timex. This is one of those features where you'd look back in 15 years and say, "oh yeah, that car had really cool gauges."

If I have one annoyance is that the speedo is centered at 120 kph rather than 80 mph. I prefer symmetry and only rarely drive to Canada, thank you.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9050 miles

A Macro Look at Interior Materials

August 12, 2010

Sure, our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi may fool even the Beverly Hills valet on first glance, but, unlike editor Warren Clarke, I'm inclined to think that once you get in and get a closer look and feel at the interior materials the car's budget-ness will reveal itself. Not that that's a bad thing. It is what it is.

More macro snaps I took of various surfaces in our Kizashi after the jump. They feel how they look.

Cloth panel on the door.

Steering wheel.

Cloth on the seats.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 9,207 miles

Tire Pressure Problem

August 13, 2010

The darndest things happen when you're pushing the limits of a car's fuel tank. Such as flat tires. Or what I thought was a flat tire. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Backing up.

I hop into our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS this morning — it was kind of cool out — and hit the road with 15 miles left on the DTE gauge. No more than 25 feet into my drive, I get this TPMS warning.

So I grab my tire pressure gauge and check 'em all. 31. And the Kizashi calls for 38. Hmm.

Since all are the same, the only reasonable conclusion is that they were all set the same. Or I got four punctures with the exact same leak rate.

What are the odds the guy at the dealership slapped on the auto-filler, pre-set to 32 psi, and filled the tires that way?

Tires are back up to spec now, I'll let you know if they all drop in unison again.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor,

Way Better Bluetooth

August 17, 2010

I've been following all the gushing comments about the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GT on this blog and wondered if it's really that good. It is. I drove it for the first time last night and came away duly impressed with pretty much everything everyone else has been praising the car for.

The Kizashi also has some great gadgets for a car costing $22,500: a pumping 425-watt/10-speaker Rockford Fosgate system, decent iPod integration and Bluetooth hands-free for phoning as well as wireless audio streaming.

And while the Bluetooth hands-free isn't the best, it is better than some cars costing twice as much.

First, it was relatively easy to pair my iPhone 3GS. Even though I had to pull over to do it. And delete another editor's phone since the system had hit its limit (a common occurrence around here). And go through a few too many steps compared to the best systems.

While calling a friend who owns an Acura MDX I was reminded of how maddening some systems in more expensive vehicles can be. He started the conversation by cursing the MDX's Bluetooth system, which requires an extra step to transfer the call from the phone to the car. And while chatting with another friend, I was struck by how clear the connection sounded in the Kizashi.

But the system didn't automatically download my phone's address book, although you can enter contacts one at a time and assign voice tags as well as six speed-dial numbers that can be accessed by touching the numbered buttons on the left side of the dash display.

You can also dial a number by voice, although the system was about 50 percent accurate during my short time in the car. And as a bonus you're able to simultaneously pair the phone for Bluetooth hands-free and audio, unlike some systems.

If you classify Bluetooth systems as good, better, best, the Kizashi's falls somewhere in the middle. But if you go by what you get for your money — and also consider that the car's in-cabin tech comes standard — the Kizashi is way better than most.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

Keyless Entry, Too?

August 23, 2010

I'm actually not a huge fan of keyless entry. I know plenty of people love it, but a remote keyfob to lock/unlock the doors is all I need.

But Suzuki clearly feels keyless entry is the way to go, as they include it as a standard feature on the base "S" model for $19,000. However, because of my aforementioned disinterest in keyless entry I just noticed it this past weekend on our Long-Term 2010 Kizashi GTS (admittedly, only the second time I've driven it).

And when I did spot it I assumed it must be part of an option package, or standard only on the top trim levels.

Yet another impressive feature on this car. It's a shame Suzuki doesn't have a full line of Kizashi-like vehicles, as I think they could be living the "Hyundai dream" (i.e. continued sales records and market share gains) if they did.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 10,075 miles

A Takizashi Shooting Spree

August 24, 2010

By now you know we're fans of our long-term Kizashi. Nearly all who have driven it have commented on how pleasant and surprisingly refined it is. I'm on board with pretty much everything that's been posted, so I thought I'd just take some pictures rather than rehash what's already been said.

What a nice family car, donchathink? White picket fence, school sign in the background, quiet neighborhood. This is the Kizashi in its natural surroundings.

Gotta love Beverly Hills. Only here is a bright yellow Ford GT commonplace.

This shot shows some promise. I think I'll try again one of these days, but I'll need to lock the focus, drive slower and in the right lane.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 10,095 miles

Best Car in 25 Years

August 25, 2010

According to the press release that just hit my email, today marks Suzuki's 25th anniversary in America selling cars. Suddenly my drive to work in our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS seems all the more significant. After all, it is without a doubt Suzuki's best car ever. I really enjoy driving it, which is something I couldn't say about many Suzukis in the last two and a half decades.

After a few years selling building and selling motorcycles, Suzuki's first mass-produced car, the 360cc Suzulight, was introduced to the Japanese market in 1955. Thirty years later, in 1985 it entered the U.S. automotive market (it began selling motorcycles in America in 1963) with the successful launch of the Samurai, arguably America's first compact SUV.

There have been ups and downs since. Drive a Kizashi and you'll be as bullish on Suzuki's next 25 years as I am.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 10,104 miles

Holding Up Pretty Well

August 26, 2010

The Suzuki Kizashi has been with us now for six months and over 10,000 miles. It's gone on road trips, and it's served as an accommodating mule for editors, their friends and their families. How's it holding up?

Pretty well, now that you mention it. The seat fabric still looks new and unsoiled, the door panels are relatively scuff-free and the switchgear is still shiny-looking and intact. It'll be interesting to see what the next six months bring.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10,142 miles

New Shoe

August 27, 2010

Remember last week when we had a tire pressure problem we kinda/sorta attributed to, perhaps, faulty inititial settings by the 'zuk techs? Well, looks like there may have been more going on that just a low setting.

Yesterday, one of our staffers came into the office complaining that all of the tires had gone low forcing a gas station air-up. He didn't trust the gauge there and grabbed one from the office to find that, miraculously, all of the tires were now--- back to cold after a few hours sitting — at the proper spec, excpt one. The one, right front, was already down to 24 psi.

Off to Stokes Tire Pros in Santa Monica we went.

Turns out that the offending tire had a small hole in it where the sidewall meets the tread. D'oh! We've got exceptional aim sometimes.

They didn't have a new P235/45R18 94V Dunlop SP Sport 7000 in stock, but a vendor did and they could have it early next day (today). It was already past 3 so we asked them to hang onto the Suzuki — they offered to throw the spare on for us if we needed it for the evening — and call us when it was done.

Just before noon today we got the call stating that, for the princely sum of $228.75 we could have our Suzuki back. Concerned about the other problems we'd told them about, our man there hooked us up and had his techs check all of the tires and re-tighten the TPMS dongle which is often the cause of slow leaks.

We'll let you know if they stay full this time 'round.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor @ 10,144 miles

Where Can I Buy One?

August 30, 2010

So I'm pulling up to a traffic light this weekend and a guy in a Jetta TDI wagon (Gen IV) pulls into the right turn lane next to me and does the universal roll down your window sign.

TDI fellow: "Hey, I didn't think there was a Suzuki dealer in Los Angeles! I've been reading about this thing and I'm really interested."

A not entirely helpful JRiz: "I know there's one somewhere, possibly in the South Bay. I'm not sure, though, this is a company car."

TDI: "Oh, do you like it?"

A slightly more helpful JRiz: "Yeah, this is a great car. I really like it."

TDI: "Hey thanks! Have a good one."

Well, since I couldn't be helpful on the fly, here's the answer to his question.

There actually isn't a Suzuki dealer in the South Bay, so my bad on that one. As the map below shows, however, TDI fellow was basically correct in saying that there's no Suzuki dealer in Los Angeles. The closest one is up in Van Nuys amidst the Galpin empire, with two others in Orange County and another way out in Glendora (where we've been once or twice). In other words, there is only one dealer within a 20-mile radius of my house located roughly in at the tip of the A in Los Angeles — and it's almost 10 miles away.

This definitely seems like the Kizashi's biggest problem: there are fewer Suzuki dealers out there than other brands and those that do exist aren't exactly used to servicing or selling a car of this caliber. My thought was, if there isn't a Suzuki dealer in one of the biggest car market cities in the country (and one where import cars do well), how can the brand realistically expect to thrive? (As a side note, there's no Mazda or Hyundai dealers in west Los Angeles either).

I decided to check on some other markets for Suzuki dealers, and compare them to Honda (in parentheses) using a 20-mile radius. I was actually surprised by the results.

Brent Romans would be able to get the Kizoo serviced at a dealer about 5 miles from his house in Fresno, Calif. (2), and Dan Pund would have three in the greater Detroit area to choose from (4). There are four in the Chicagoland (9), four in Houston (6), three in Miami (5) and three in Seattle, though they are all closer to Tacoma (8).

So there are indeed fewer Suzuki dealers in these markets, but it would seem that Los Angeles is just grossly under represented. No wonder everyone just buys Toyotas and Hondas here — there are no other dealers around to buy something else.

Out of curiousity, go to this web page and check to see how far the closest Suzuki dealer is to you.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,317 miles

A Look Back

August 31, 2010

See that? That's our Kizashi's side mirror. It's nicely sized — big, but not obscenely so. If you're backing up, you can check out what's behind you via this and our Kizashi's other two mirrors. However, you can't rely on a backup camera, since our Kizashi isn't equipped with one (note, however, that a backup camera is available on 2010 models as a late-availability option). During my time with the Suzuki, I haven't missed having a backup camera one bit.

The Kizashi isn't that big — it's one of the smaller choices in the midsize segment. Would a backup camera be a must-have for you if you were shopping for a car in this segment, or would mirrors and a flexible neck be enough?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10, 340 miles

Do 3 Curling Brooms Fit?

August 31, 2010


James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,317 miles

Touching All the Bases

September 02, 2010

The term "touch point(s)" is a car designer's term meaning — you'll never guess — the parts of the interior that one frequently comes into contact with. Examples include door grab handles, door release levers, the gear selector, the handbrake and of course the steering wheel.

Although the Kizashi's dash top may not be covered in soft-touch material, I'm not going to ding it too much — how often do you touch the top of the dash anyway? In all the important areas, including those mentioned above and even the stereo's rubberized seek buttons, this Suzuki touches all the bases for key touch points and they all have a high-quality feel to them. Grab the door pull handle (shown above) and you'll note it's nicely padded and also stitched on the backside — a good example of Suzuki making the extra effort. Along with the smooth powertrain and solid overall build quality, this is another area of the Kizashi that impresses me.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10,375 miles.

Is It a Sport Sedan?

September 03, 2010

This was just one of the several questions posed yesterday that could be answered based on my many drives of the Kizashi (will Suzuki survive in this country? Sorry, left my crystal ball at home).

I'd say "absolutely." I'd compare the Kizashi favorably to the first-generation Acura TSX, which was definitely what I'd consider an entry point into the realm of sport sedans. They're about the same size inside and out, front-wheel drive, four-cylinder-powered and have a sprightly nature through corners. Much as the TSX was vastly more fun to drive than other front-drive, midsize sedans, so too is the Kizashi. The Acura had better steering (hydraulic versus electric), more power and a more luxurious interior, but then the Suzuki is cheaper and wasn't turned into a gooey, vegetable-slicing disappointment.

From an objective stand point, let's take a look at the Kizoo's track numbers: slalom speed 64.8 mph and skidpad turn .88g. Those are actually better than the undertired old TSX and most family sedans. The Ford Fusion Sport and Mazda 6 manage a quicker slalom run (65.1 and 65.9), but nothing can touch that .88g on the skidpad. Of course, a 0-60 of 8.3 seconds isn't exactly getting the blood pumping in a straight line, but then I think handling is a better measure of something's sports sedanness than a straight line. Not that a more powerful engine option would hurt.

So I'd say the Kizashi is a sport sedan, especially given the fact that our long-termer costs only $23,614. It's a fun car for the money that I would definitely consider if I was in the market for a car of this size and with this many doors. My only pause, as several of the questions pointed out, would be whether I could get it serviced. In Los Angeles, that would be tough, but elsewhere, we could be in business. I'll leave you to ponder whether Suzuki will stay in business.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,393 miles

Excellent Ride

September 07, 2010

There's something about our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi (tall sedan on the right) that feels a little off to me. There's nothing wrong with the actual car; it's just not quite the small-midsize sedan I want it to be. I keep thinking I want a quicker steering ratio or maybe more steering feel (a tall order with electric power assist) or maybe a stiffer suspension, all so the Kizashi will feel more like the 2004-2008 Acura TSX or the 2005-2009 Subaru Legacy it seems to want to be.

Over the weekend, though, I realized such decisions should never be left up to me.

In its current state of tune, our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi rides beautifully. It efficiently manages nearly all of the hurt that Los Angeles freeways dish out — without getting all floaty or transmitting unnecessary information to passengers.

It was particularly impressive on the I-710 freeway we took to get to Bludso's BBQ in Compton for a Texas-style brisket fix. The 710 has some of the most variable pavement of any freeway in the area, and the Suzuki was completely at ease over all of it.

The Kizashi rides exactly how a midsize sedan should ride. And I should be happy for that.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,670 miles

Gauges Too Hard to Read

September 08, 2010

Earlier James blogged here that our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi had an attractive and sophisticated set of gauges. Although I like the look of this gauge pack, too, for some reason it just didn't work for me when I drove the Kizashi 4 days in a row.

To start, the speedometer is tough to read with precision when I'm traveling between 65 and 75 mph, as I often am. Reasons? There's not enough differentiation between all those little lines. Numbers are displayed only for every 20 mph. And said number markings are oriented along the circumference of the gauge (like on a watch) rather than positioned upright... Ford does this, too, and I've never liked it.

The Kizashi's fuel gauge also gets on my nerves. I know if the tank is full or empty, but what about half a tank or a quarter of a tank? I ended up selecting the "distance to empty" meter display within the trip computer and just monitored that.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,675 miles

A Touch of England

September 10, 2010

Suzuki clearly used Volkswagen as a benchmark for the Kizashi. Not only does the car's front end look like a Jetta and the upper part of its dash look like a Passat, but the materials quality was clearly achieved using VW as inspiration (pitty the new Jetta can't say the same thing).

Yet, the finishing on the Kizashi's climate control knobs are inspired by a Volkswagen to an exponential degree. This knurled finish is a spitting image of the control knobs and shifter in the Bentley Continental models.

Sure, the Bentley has real knurled metal whereas the Suzuki's a nice plastic knock-off, but the detail is appreciated. It looks good and is also a nice, grippy surface.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,730 miles

Trunk Pass-Thru and Folding Rear Seats

September 13, 2010

Our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS has both a 60/40 folding rear sear and a trunk pass-thru.

When I worked at a major carmaker, the question that came up then is one that I will pose today: is it necessary to have both a folding rear seat and a trunk pass-thru?

Of course it's nice to have both, but under what scenario would a trunk pass-thru be useful in lieu of folding seats? Certainly if the seats were fixed, a trunk pass-thru would be useful.

But both?

The only situation I can think of for a pass-thru is if you had 4 people in the car and some long 2x4s or skis residing in the trunk, an somewhat unlikely occurrence. And if you did that a lot, wouldn't you also/instead have an SUV or pickup truck?

Is there another scenario I'm missing?

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,800 miles

It All Adds Up

September 14, 2010

Most folks know I'm a fan of the Kizashi; a 650-mile road trip back in May cemented my initial impressions that this is a well built, refined and nicely stocked ride. The styling is clean but honestly just okay for me, neither striking nor offensive. But some staffers and onlookers have stated how the Suzook's looks have a premium vibe.

And I can see three reasons why they'd get that impression. One is the tasteful sliver of chrome used for the lower body side moldings. There's just enough chrome there to dress the car up without looking tacky. Another is the wheel design, metallic silver multi-spokers that looks more upscale than the old gray five-spokers you see on so many sedans at the $25-30,000 price point. Lastly are the nicely finished dual exhaust outlets, which Engineering Editor Al Austria already mentioned.

Although by themselves all these features may strike you as barely worth mentioning, combined they give the Kizashi a rather upscale look, no mean feat for a car that lists for about $23,000.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10, 825 miles

The Last to Go? Whaaat?

September 15, 2010

To quote my pal Jonathan Mortimer Smith (aka Lil Jon), "Whaaat?"

I noticed recently that when the sign-out sheet for the test cars goes around, our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS gets little love and is frequently one of the last to go.

What gives? It's got a great chassis, steering, MT, clutch, and super build quality. I even find it very attractive. On the other hand, our long-term Hyundai Sonata is always in demand here. I don't get it.

Which one would you rather drive? Or buy?

And to that Lil Jon says, "Okaaay."

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,850 miles

Up In Its Grille

September 16, 2010

A couple of days ago, my colleague Mr. DiPietro spotlighted some design cues that help give the Kizashi its premium look. I think the car also deserves style points for its honeycomb grille. I've always been a fan of honeycomb grilles, and the I think the Kizashi's helps give its face some upscale flair.

However, one big, big drawback to these grilles is that they're a nightmare to clean (kinda like the car's multi-spoke wheels). If you're anal about shine and you like cleaning your car yourself, I imagine dealing with the Kizashi grille's intricate latticework would be no picnic. Q-tips seem like the cheapest tools for getting the job done. These Edge Foam Tips seem like a good choice, as well.

Anyone out there own a car with a honeycomb grille? What's your shortcut (aside from turning things over to some poor schmo at the car wash) for keeping the grille clean?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10,865 miles

Trunk Release Button Question Answered

September 17, 2010

In a previous 2010 Suzuki Kizashi post, commenter dg0472 asked: "I want to know if you're in a situation like Caroline complained about in the Sonata at LAX of being in the car behind the wheel (with the proximity key on you, of course), could someone still open the trunk with the exterior release? If so, under what circumstances? Engine on, doors unlocked, etc."

So I checked it out, and sure enough there IS an exterior trunk release button (no keyhole that I noticed). However, if you don't have the key fob on you you can't open the trunk just by pressing this button, even with the doors unlocked and the car turned off. Seems the only way to open it for your airport fare is via the trunk release button inside the car which is located down below left of the steering wheel where you'd usually expect the hood release lever to be.

So there you have it.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 10,879 miles

Pull This Ring for Reverse

September 17, 2010

I like many things about our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. Selecting reverse isn't one of them. To get reverse in the Suzook you need to pull up on the ring and move the shifter back and down to the 5 o'clock position. It's not that bad mind you and certainly not a dealbreaker. But if you don't pull the ring up fully you won't get reverse.

I prefer reverse to be up and the right at the 1 o'clock position without pulling up of rings or down on the shift knob. Many GM cars including our long-term Camaro have this, and it's quick to get reverse without any chance of accidently selecting 1st. And going from reverse to first when you're parking is fast and easy.

How about you? Do you have a preference or don't care about this at all?

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,900 miles

A Car I'd Recommend to My Parents

September 20, 2010

So my parents are in the market for a new car and have asked me for my advice. They're looking for a sedan that's luxurious-feeling with all the bells and whistles but affordable. They asked me about the Altima, the Buick Regal and the Accord. And I felt like I was letting them in on a secret when I told them about the Hyundai Sonata. But after driving our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi all this weekend, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to them, too.

It's comfortable, sounds refined, shifts smoothly, has nice quality interior, comes with the amenities they like and is affordable. Plus, a majority of the editors here love it.

I even spec'd out the one my folks should get: the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS with the "Navigation with Rear Vision Camera" option. There's even an $1,000 rebate! The total price would be $25,613.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 10,976 miles

Keyless One at a Time

September 21, 2010

Something I noticed about our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi's keyless entry. If you hit that button there from either the passenger or driver side, it only opens that respective door, not all the doors. Just thought it was...different. Most cars with keyless that I've driven open both doors when the button is pressed from the passenger side. Not a dealbreaker but if you are, say the type of guy who opens the door for his lady, you'll end up having to either ask her to unlock your side, too, or just dig the key out of your pocket.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Low-Profile Tires Look Good, Ride Fine

September 21, 2010

There are plenty of discussions around our office about low-profile tires. Yes, they look good, but what price are we paying in terms of ride quality? This has become especially prevalent given that big wheels and thin tires are now trickling down to average family cars and crossovers.

The Suzuki Kizashi is a good example. Our GTS model rides on a set of 18-inch wheels wrapped in 235/45R18 tires. Those are some pretty serious meats for a $24,000 family sedan.

Yes even with all that tread width and relatively thin sidewalls, the Kizashi doesn't suffer in terms of ride quality. It's perfectly compliant and the tire noise isn't overwhelming. Granted, the tires have an all-season tread that's not overly aggressive, but it's still not easy making them ride comfortably with minimal noise. Add in the fact that the wheels themselves are pretty attractive and I'd say Suzuki did a pretty good job with the Kizashi's wheel, tire and suspension setup.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 10,989 miles

Keeps Up in the City

September 22, 2010

My friend is visiting from San Francisco so I'm taking the next couple of days off to show her around L.A., and have picked our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi as our around-town conveyance. I feel I made the right choice as it's comfortable, feels refined, is easy to drive when dealing with stop-and-go traffic, is luxurious-looking enough to actually turn heads at the valet (I kid you not) and isn't worrisome to park on Hollywood streets or cramped Santa Monica garages. So, yeah, it keeps up in the city just fine. What does my friend think of it? "I didn't know Suzuki still made cars. It's really nice!"

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

The Valet and Mechanics Like It

September 23, 2010

Last night at this party at Yamashiro Restaurant in Hollywood, I was one of the last folks to leave the restaurant. The valet guy was coming around handing the people left over their keys as he was done for the night. He handed me the keys to our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi and said, very enthusiastically, "I really like your car!" Apparently he had to drive it down the hill because of the limited parking in the lot and said it drove great.

And then when I was about to get in the car, Omar, the security guy for the restaurant went up to me, "That is a great car. Do you mind if I look under the hood?" Naturally I obliged. After I popped the hood he immediately poked around in there with his flashlight and proceeded to tell me why he liked it so much. Turns out he's also a mechanic and I was curious to hear his perspective. "It's very simple," he kept saying. Something about how it's easy to move around in there, nice layout, great engine..."very simple."

But he did wonder, "Is this a new car?" "Yeah, it's a 2010." "Oh because there's some coolant spill here...." Me: "I don't know what that means." Then he walked around the car, complimenting its wheels, tire size, exhaust. About the back end: "It looks like a Honda Civic but also a Lexus."

"Really great car," he said as he walked away. I really suspect he's going to look into buying one.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Clean Climate

September 24, 2010

OK, I won't "gush" but will just say that I appreciate our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi's clean and straightforward climate control layout. You gotta give it that. No? Spells everything out for you so even people who don't read the manual can figure out how to change it to, say, dual or which one is the defroster for the rear window versus the front. Oh...and those knobs with the textured trim feel nice. OK, that's all. Fortunately for you, someone else has the Suzuki this weekend so maybe they'll find something critical to say about it.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

The Right Size for a Midsize

September 27, 2010

"Supersize it", that seems to be the battle cry of the American consumer. We live in a land where bigger is always better, right? Not for me, not if we're talking about midsize sedans. In fact, according to the EPA some cars we think of as midsize are actually officially fullsize, such as the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata. I'm not sure why the Mazda 6 isn't in there...must've missed making it by a cubic inch or two. Most cars the Kizashi is compared to are anywhere from 7 to 11 inches longer.

With the Suzook, I just feel that I'm not toting around any more car than I need. The Kizashi seems a proper midsize car, with passenger and cargo room that should be ample for most folks most of the time. Yet at 35.6 inches — about the same as in an Altima — the Kizashi's rear legroom measures an inch greater than the Sonata's. And the seat is done right. Transporting a few folks back there over the weekend bore out how comfortable it is, with a high, full cushion that provides proper leg support and a wide, fold-down center armrest that's up high enough so one needn't slump when using it.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 11,225 miles

I'm A Fan

September 28, 2010

Yeah, it's kind of a lovefest around here for our longterm 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, and I, too, am a member of Camp Zook. Or Kizoo. Whatever.

Every time I drive it I come away impressed. It just does so many things right. Ride and handling coexist peacefully, all of the primary controls work with a silken touch, noise is never part of the equation, it feels substantial but not leaden. Refinement is really the car's trump card.

It looks great, too, although photos don't do it justice — the Kizashi needs the third dimension for its styling to really makes its impression.

This is an attainable car that drives like one that's out of your price range.

What about you — could you see a Zook in your driveway if you were in the market for a midsize sedan?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Great True Cost to Own?

September 28, 2010

In previous comments on our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi posts, many of you brought up the issue that the 'Zook may not be the car to own because of dealership experience, etc. So I decided to just check out how the sedan fares in our True Cost to Own tool up against the tool's automatically generated competitors: Ford Fusion, Mazdaspeed 3 and Hyundai Sonata. Would buyers who choose the Kizashi be that bad off?

Guess which car is predicted to be the best value over a 5-year period?

The Hyundai Sonata! It got the lowest cost per mile and TCO out of the four vehicles.

Its TCO vs the Kizashi's is $38,960 vs. $44,589. That means a Sonata customer would pay an additional $17,477 during five years of ownership while a Kizashi customer would pay an additional $20,718. A difference of $3,241. But expected resale of each car after five years is $8,406 (Sonata) and $8,147 (Kizashi); $259 difference.

Fusion: $40,556

MS3: $44,699

Did you guess right?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

Product Placement

September 29, 2010

Suzuki Motor Corp has mapped out a market position grid of the Kizashi's major competitors along two axes: excitement and expense.

While it is the same price category as more boring sedans such as Camry and Accord (you can add the new Sonata down there too), the Kizashi delivers the driving experience of more premium sedans such as A4 and TSX. I agree.

Suzuki Motor has the Kizashi solely occupying the southeast quadrant of low price and high excitement.

And right now, I can't think of another midsized sedan that can reside with it there.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ ~11,500 miles

Easy Shifter

September 29, 2010

Yesterday in the office a co-worker from a different department admitted that she hadn't driven a manual shift car in over 10 years, and asked what might be a good car to use in the re-learning process.

In open conversations like this, our staff isn't shy about throwing out personal opinions, and voices rang out from around corners and behind cube walls.

Last night when I got into the 6-speed Suzuki Kizashi, I was reminded how easy it is to drive, with its confident clutch and forgiving gearbox.

I remembered back 20 years ago, watching a stop light at the top of a slight hill change from green to red six times before I was able to get my 1984 Escort out of first gear. I still shudder at the memory of all those horns honking around me.

What's your story?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 11,457 miles

Sure is quiet in here

September 30, 2010

On my drive home, I noticed how quiet our Kizashi was. I looked to see if it had double-pane side glass, but no. What I did find was robust door seals on all four doors: Triple along the top edges and double around the perimeter.

In fact, the Kizashi is quieter across the board than a recently tested 2011 BMW 535i...

2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS:

  • At idle = 40.7
  • At W.O.T. = 72.0
  • At 70 mph = 63.8

2011 BMW 535i

  • At idle = 42.3
  • At W.O.T. = 73.4
  • At 70 mph = 67.0
Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 11,550 miles

Burger in a Box

October 05, 2010

It's no wonder that four-cylinder engines don't get any respect. Once you open the hood of the Suzuki Kizashi GTS, you find its 2.4-liter inline-4 hiding in a kind of plastic box. It looks like one of those cardboard containers in which you get your hamburger at the drive-thru, doesn't it?

And yet the inline four-cylinder engine has have taken over the world. And for good reason, because a four is all you'll ever need.

Sure, we romanticize the bigger engines, the inline-6s, the efficient V6s and the big V8s. Maybe this is because those intake runners look so sweet, even though what you see these days is usually a cover made from molded plastic instead of the runners themselves.

Yet the application of modern technology has given the lowly inline-4 a dose of magic that enables it to go head-to-head with more complex powerplants.

# Counter-rotating balancers cancel the inline-4's inherent vibration characteristics, making it possible to increase the four's displacement to 2.4 liters from about 2.0 liters without making the whole thing shake itself apart.

# Multi-valve combustion chambers increase specific output while variable valve timing and lift broaden the powerband.

# Assorted anti-friction measures in ring design and metal coatings improve efficiency.

# Turbochargers and superchargers increase power exponentially.

# Direct injection simultaneously improves fuel economy even as it cools the combustion chamber, making possible a taller compression ratio for more power.

# Active engine mounts quell vibration so effectively that it's difficult to detect engine vibration at all.

Not all of these technologies lie within the Suzuki J24B in the Kizashi, which churns out 185 hp at 6,500 rpm and 170 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, but you can bet they soon will be. We've managed to make it through the era of the wimpy, fragile inline-4s that superseded the bulletproof 2.0-liter fours of the 1980s, and now the four-cylinder is thought to be worthy of serious engineering, since it holds the key to the future of fuel-efficiency. The good news is, the inline-4 can deliver the tractability and civility we prefer on a daily basis and yet also achieve the power output we crave.

Even if it does look like some kind of hamburger in a black box.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 11,733 miles

Steering Wheel Fundamentals Strong

October 07, 2010

Considering the automobile has been around for 125 years or so, you'd think steering wheels would be a fairly sorted device. Yet manufacturers still manage to mess them up (see "2010 Camaro").

This here longterm 2010 Suzuki Kizashi longtermer, though, nails the steering wheel basics consistently well. That's notable for its rarity. Jump for the details.

I didn't whip out a tape measure but I'd bet that the Zook's wheel is a bit smaller in overall diameter than those typically found in midsize sedans. This gets a big thumbs up from me, as it feels tidy and right-sized.

Its leather wrap has a quality feel; neither slippy nor sticky.

The spoke-to-rim interfaces at 9 and 3 appear to have been designed by somebody whom has actually used a steering wheel — there are gentle 'ramps' upon which your thumbs rest perfectly.

Plus, it's angled just right. I've found that Nissan wheels, for example, tend to be too vertical for my tastes.

Yeah, I could nitpick the layout of the secondary controls on the wheel. But for now I just wanted to give Mr/Ms Kizashi Steering Wheel Designer some props for getting these basics really right.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

iPhone No Go

October 07, 2010

At the risk of getting a "Caroline, you eediot!" comment, I don't know how to listen to my iPhone in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi.

Yesterday I plugged it into the 'Zashi's USB port. It started to play the music and charge my iPhone and then flashed the message "This gadget isn't compatible blah blah" on my iPhone screen quickly replacing it with a "Accessory connected" one. But then suddenly the music stopped and it stopped charging my phone. I unplugged it, turned off the radio and my iPhone to see if I could just start all over again. No such luck.

The owner's manual didn't make any mention of how to troubleshoot this. Now, if it hadn't worked initially I wouldn't have questioned it and just plugged in a regular iPod. But the point is that it DID work at first, so why did it stop? The same thing happened with our Ford Raptor's USB port.

A Kizashi forum said that it will work with just playing audio but that wasn't the case here. Another forum mentioned just playing it via Bluetooth so that's good but I'm still curious about why the USB stopped working for my iPhone.

Anyone else have this problem? Please share and we can all learn.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

USB or Bluetooth?

October 08, 2010

Just like our Mitsubishi Outlander, our Kizashi features Bluetooth streaming audio with skip/pause control. Unlike the Outlander, the Suzuki was also able to connect to my iPhone via the USB port, which is generally the method I prefer. I put both connections to the test and here's what I decided...

With the USB connection, you gain the ability to search for music and the song info is also displayed on screen. But as a compulsive song shuffler, I rarely go searching. I usually find the USB's sound quality superior to Bluetooth, but that's not the case with the Kizashi.

I played my standard test song, "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" by John Williams using both connections. I found this a great song to use as a test since it has a wide dynamic range that exposes flaws in lesser sound systems. Plus, it takes me back to the 1984 L.A. Olympics and the dazzling opening ceremony. The sound quality was a dead heat to my ears, with the speakers able to handle the screaming highs of the trumpet fanfare and booming timpani bass.

The USB lost out, though, because there were some intermittent skips and gaps in the playback. Initially, that skipping was quite frequent, but it tapered off as the iPhone kept playing. The Bluetooth connection had no such problem.

Of course, there are plenty of variables in this very informal test. My ears are not what they used to be after decades of abuse from motorcycles, racecars and recreational shooting. Caroline had problems connecting her iPhone, but I had no problem (I'm using an iPhone 3G running iOS 4.1). Heck, even the cord itself may play a part. But at least for my listening preferences, I'll stick to streaming Bluetooth in the Takizashi. I do, however, use the USB port to charge the device.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Dad, Can This 6 ft. Ladder Fit in the Kizashi?

October 11, 2010

Surprisingly the answer to my daughter's question is yes. I just dropped the larger side of the Kizashi's 60/40 folding rear seat and the ladder slid in easily, I still had room for three inside, and I could close the trunk lid. Cool.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 12,084 miles

Sized Driveway

October 13, 2010

This is my new garage and to my delight it's actually quite large, with room to spare for a midsize car like the Kizashi or even something larger. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for my new driveway.

Last night I discovered that it is almost precisely 1 Kizashi wide. Those large mirrors that provide excellent visibility were a detriment, but once the passenger mirror was folded in, I could squeeze through. Then after a few-too-many maneuvers to turn it around in the backyard (what, no Batcave turntable?), the Kizoo was at rest for the night. In short, it was too much of a hassle to be bothered and I now know the Kizashi is the maximum-sized car I'll try to fit back there. Judging by dimensions, that leaves the GTI, Speed3, A4 Avant and surprisingly, the Outlander. My girlfriend's Mazda 3 and my Z3 also fit easily.

Obviously that fence didn't exist back in the 1930s when my house was built, because there's no way those huge old-timey gangster wagons would squeeze through the passage between house and fence. I guess people were OK sharing backyards back in the day, as they continue to be in other/friendlier parts of the country. As a result, many people in my neighborhood just use their garages as storage units and fence off the driveway.

Fortunately, the front portion of my driveway is big enough for 1 Traverse, so that'll do nicely for all long-termers not named after Toronto's basketball team. I'll just be hitting the carwash more frequently than I used too.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

Tiny Key Fob

October 14, 2010

I was an asshat last night and left the Kizashi key fob in my pocket, robbing someone else of a car for the night. Not cool dude.

While I contemplate ways to make amends, I thought I'd go ahead and place part of the blame on the Kizashi's tiny key fob. Just as Suzuki paid homage to Volkswagen with the styling and interior quality of the Kizashi, it clearly looked to Nissan for its key fob design. Though a tad bigger than Nissan's keyless ignition/entry fob, the Suzuki version is the same shape and of a similar lay-out. It's pretty light too.

While some of these keyless fobs can be enormous (the Jag XJ's easily weighs 15 pounds and is the size of a hampster), Nissan and now Suzuki's unburdens your pants and/or keychain with this slim design. It's a nice touch ... until you leave it in your pocket. What a jerk.

James Riswick, Repentant Automotive Editor

Cool Details are Cool

October 15, 2010

The more I drive our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi the more I dig it. I would own this car. Sure, more motor would be nice, and any other name would be better, but the Kizashi is hard to complain about.

In fact, I'm on the other side of the coin. Everytime I drive the Kizashi I find some more evidence that Suzuki got all of the details right. Proof? Check out the gas cap holder built into the gas door. No big deal? Well, Suzuki didn't stop there. Check out the little black plastic drip catcher. Nice.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief


October 15, 2010

Full disclosure: Despite my surname, I do not speak, nor do I understand the Japanese language.

I was on my way home last night, pondering what I might possibly discover about our Kizashi. And there it was, "Kizashi." What the heck does it mean? Perhaps it means "VW" in Japanese? Fitting, no?

Then I remembered that some Suzuki motorcycles have also taken fairly obscure Japanese names. The Hayabusa is a Peregrine Falcon that can hit over 200 mph in a dive. The Katana is a samurai sword. V-Strom is translated as "ugly outcast". I'm kidding about that last one.

So what does Kizashi mean?

Omen. As in, a sign of something to come. A portent, harbinger or premonition.

OK, I can accept that. Especially when you consider a few days after the Kizashi went on sale, Volkswagen bought a $2.5 billion stake in Suzuki. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. If the Kizashi is indeed a sign of things to come, that would be a good thing, since it's a solid little car that continues to exceed my expectations. I wonder, though, how their German overlords will manage a car that out-Jetta's their Jetta.

Mark Takahashi (it means "high bridge"), Associate Editor

It Continues to Impress

October 18, 2010

The more I drive our Kizashi, the more I like it. From the sculpted exterior to the upmarket feel of the interior, this is definitely one car I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

(More comiKizashi stuff after the jump)

Suzuki really scored a hit with the Kizashi. With an upcoming Sport model and the hope of an aftermarket turbo add-on, I think that hit may become a home run. I'd certainly like more power and less understeer, but for the vast majority of buyers, I think it'll do just fine as is.

I especially like the high quality interior. The design, materials and solid assembly gives it a distinctly German feel. Any spot where the driver makes contact is padded, and the hard plastics in other areas are expertly grained to blend right in.

Yup, I'm surprised to say that I really like a Suzuki (and it's not even a GSX-R).

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @12,225 miles


October 18, 2010

When in comes to car-sightings, in SoCal you see everything. Every exotic, every limited edition, everything. But I've never seen another Suzuki Kizashi. Until this past weekend.

This particular Kizashi was sporting an AWD badge. Interesting. I don't see the need for that here, but whatever. And although it looks good in black, I prefer our long-termer's gun metal gray.

Catching a rare car in LA is somewhat like a celeb sighting, although a Kizashi is not exactly a Tier 1 exotic. But considering that I spotted Peter Brady (Brady Bunch) at the gym just before the I saw the Kizashi, I can say that I had two C-list sightings (TV and car) in a single day.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,237 miles

Tuned at the Nurburgring

October 21, 2010

It turns out our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS was tuned at the famed Nurburgring circuit.
It's not unusual for road cars to get developed there.

But it is unusual for cars in the Kizashi's price segment to get tuned at the 'Ring.

No wonder the Kizashi's chassis is so good.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,400 miles

And Boom Goes the Kizashi

October 22, 2010

I've noted before that the Kizashi's stereo is better than I expected. This not insubstantial subwoofer might have something to do with it. Then again, the system's bass response wasn't one of its strong points in my opinion.

The clarity of the mid-range tones and crisp high-end notes are two things that impressed me about the Rockford Fosgate setup. The bass? Good, not great, although probably better than most sedans in its class. I mean, does anyone really expect a hard-hitting system in a compact sedan? If they do, they probably shouldn't be buying a compact sedan. Still, that big ol' sub poking out from the rear deck sure looks impressive doesn't it?

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 12,410 miles

Better than the New Jetta

October 25, 2010

When our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS first arrived, it was derided by some readers as a new-gen VW Jetta copy. Well, we've now driven the 2011 Mk VI Jetta and I think the Kizashi is superior to the new Jetta.

I think it's better in terms of exterior styling, interior build, and overall vehicle dynamics and performance. JKav's story on the Mk VI Jetta dropped last week, and he mentioned that older gen Jettas were preferred by the fairer gender ("insanely attractive young females," he wrote. Let's not get carried away...)

While the new Jetta may end up retaining some of its hot chick-car image, the Kizashi is a driver's car all the way.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,500 miles

Where There's a Will, And a Budget

October 26, 2010

I drove our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi last night and was again amazed by how good certain aspects of this $23,614 car are. Take the electric-assist power steering. I don't know how much money Suzuki is making on each Kizashi it sells, but it's clear someone important (or likely, many someones) decided this car should have good steering and allocated whatever amount of money was necessary so that the engineers could tune it until it felt right.

And so the Kizashi has perhaps the best electric-assist steering of any front-wheel-drive midsize sedan sold in the United States. Effort levels are spot-on whether you're parking or exiting the freeway. The steering is precise, with each input yielding exactly the amount of actual turning you expect, and the medium-quick ratio feels right for the Kizashi's size, weight and moderately sporty personality.

There's even the suggestion of steering feel here — it's not like a Lancer Evolution, but you have some idea of and connection to what's happening with the Kizashi's front end. It's a refreshing quality in a front-drive midsize sedan, and sadly, one you won't find in many other cars in this class. Forget the other cars with electric steering — the Kizashi's steering is better than some of the competing hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion setups.

P.S. Now it might appear I parked the car next to a red-painted curb, but this was not the case. This was a metered parking spot and the meter was fed.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,546 miles

Friendly, But Never Dull

October 28, 2010

Sometimes you just want your car to get you home with no drama. None of the bumps and jolts you get when a stiffer suspension meets L.A.'s pock-marked side roads. None of the frustration and muscle fatigue that come from working a finicky clutch in crawling traffic.

In situations like that, the Kizashi is your best friend. The other night, I marveled at how not even craptastic gridlock could faze its easy-breezy clutch and gearbox. At how considerate its suspension was over rough patches of road.

The thing is, cars that are this acquiescent usually have all the personality of plain white paper. They're boring. Not so with the Kizashi. It's classy and kinda fun, a good friend to have not just on choked boulevards, but on wide-open roads as well.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Do I See Some C-Class?

October 29, 2010

Slick-looking photo of long-term Kizashi by Kurt Niebuhr

A few days ago I was driving our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, and I thought I saw myself, or rather the back of myself. But it turned out I was staring at the tail of a Mercedes-Benz C300 (pictured for your comparative enjoyment after the jump). There are some vague similarities between the butts of these sedans — the curvature of the decklid, the general shape and design of the taillights.

Yeah, the Benz is classier next to the somewhat tall and narrow looking Suzuki, but it's also $10 grand more and that's before you start adding options.

Size Matters

October 30, 2010

Everyone says the Suzuki Kizashi is way more fun to drive than all the other import-label sedans in its category. The explanation shouldn't be a mystery.

It all starts with the American car, which apparently is meant to motor across those amber waves of grain toward the purple mountain's majesty with a full load of passengers, as in three people strapped into the back seat. This last bit must be crucial because everyone asks about the number of people you can fit into the back seat on the American car.

No surprise then that all the import-label car-makers started building American cars a couple of years ago.

First came the Nissan Altima, suddenly stretched out to 189.8 inches overall with a smooth-riding 109.3-inch wheelbase. The Camry stretcheed out in response to 189.2 inches overall with a wheelbase of 109.3. Then Honda Accord got all American with 194.3 inches of length and a 110.2-inch wheelbase. Then the Mazda 6 checked in with 193.7 inches of length and a 109.8-inch wheelbase. Don't forget the Volkswagen CC, measuring 188.9 inches overall with a 106.7-inch wheelbase. And finally the new Hyundai Sonata measures 189.8 inches overall with a wheelbase of 110.0 inches.

Meanwhile the Suzuki sits here an overall length of 183.1 inches and a wheelbase of 106.3 inches. Why does it seem to drive so well compared to the family sedan competition? Because it's smaller. This is an internaional size car, much like the previous-generation Mazda 6, which measured 186.8 inches overall and had a wheelbase of 105.3 inches.

You wouldn't think that a handful of inches and a couple hundred pounds could make such a big difference, yet you subconsciously register it when you look out over the windshield, not to mention feel it in the seat of your pants.

So maybe we all need to be a little more careful when we moan and groan about a vehicle's ability to haul three people in the back seat. If this is what you want, you'll get a nice long, heavyweight American car, and those three people who apparently drive around with you every day to work and the dry-cleaners and the grocery store will be very happy.

As for the rest of us, we don't intend to drive around every day with those three people. We'll give them a ride if we have to, but they can take the bus for all we care. A sedan has a certain utility, but the most important design attribute can't be the back seat.

No mystery. Size matters.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

Nice Seats

November 01, 2010

Three things that I like about the Kizashi's seats:

1: The seat bottom is the perfect length for supporting my thighs. Not too long, not too short — just right.
2: The seats are covered in fabric that's soft enough to allow me to drive in shorts without feeling like my thighs are being sandpapered.
3: The bolsters offer support without being overly intrusive.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 12,732 miles


November 03, 2010

No, I didn't plow the Kizashi into my polling place last night. No, my driveway didn't turn into a sinkhole and does not require an international effort to bring it back to the surface.

I'm mesmerized by crash test videos. Maybe it's the juvenile in my psyche that refuses to depart. Maybe I'm amazed how engineers can make such carnage survivable. Watching crumple zones do their work and those mannequins painted up like William Wallace getting tossed into an airbag like a Nolan Ryan pitch into a catcher's mitt never get old for me. Click through to see what I'm blathering on about.

As a survivor of two rather serious collisions as a teenager (I was not at fault in either, thank you very much), I was luckily able to walk away from both unscathed — though a dog did bite my ankle a few minutes after the second one. True story (sometimes, it really isn't your day).

In both incidents, I was in a silver, early-1980's Toyota that met with a large, heavy American car. For some reason, I started thinking about those wrecks and how neither would fare well in today's crash tests. Our Kizashi scored a perfect five star rating according to the 2010 NHTSA tests. Pretty impressive, especially when you check out the 0:47 mark in the video above to see how the substructure absorbs the initial hit then transfers the force into the main chassis.

Yup, cars have come a long way.

And here's a bonus crash test that is perhaps the most painful ever to watch.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Audio Review

November 05, 2010

The Suzuki Kizashi used to be the kind of car that, if someone who cared about sound bought it, they'd drive straight to a car audio shop to rip out the anemic stock system and replace it with aftermarket audio gear. But our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kazashi GTS comes standard with a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, complete with an 8-inch subwoofer.

And while some branded premium systems in cars in this segment can cost quite a bit more given that they're often bundled with other features in an option package, the Kizashi's Rockford system — like the car itself — offers great value. And very good, if not great, sound.

The Setup
The Kizashi's system consists of 10 speakers powered by a 425 watts pumped out to eight channels. The speakers include a 6-inch midbass and 1-inch tweeter in each front door, a 2-inch midrange in the center of the dash, a two-way coaxial speaker in each rear door with another 6-inch mid and 1-inch tweet and an 8-inch dual-voice-coil subwoofer in the rear deck. The front-door midbass drivers and rear-door coaxials get 50 watts each, the front tweeters and center channel get 25 watts and the sub gets 150 watts.

The Sound
As with each and every system I evaluate, the Kizashi's got the full treatment: Playing music tracks I've listened to in hundreds of cars to test for clarity/lack of distortion, tonal balance, timbre, tonal accuracy, soundstaging, imaging and dynamics, and then spinning several non-musical test tracks to further gauge soundstaging and imaging and also judge linearity and absence of noise. For more detail on the testing process and tracks used, check out the article Sound Advice.

It's a good thing that automakers have gotten hip to the kind of palpable impact that a subwoofer can add to a system, as more OEM systems now have a dedicated sub. But all too often it adds boom as opposed to making a system more musical. Of course, there are tone controls to dial the bass down or up depending on your musical tastes. But I test car sound systems with all audio controls set at the center detent, and usualy when a premium system in an economy car like the Kizashi has a subwoofer, the overall sound tends to be too bass-heavy. (I've also noticed the same thing with Rockford systems in Mitsubishi vehicles.)

With most of my test tracks, low- and mid-bass dominated the overall sound of the Kizashi's system, muddying tonal balance, timbre and tonal accuracy. On tracks that I use to test for low-bass extension, like Joan Armatrading's "In Your Eyes" and Outkast's "Ain't No Thang," output from the sub was satisfyingly deep and solid, but also slightly distorted, while tracks with strong midbass energy, like Red House Painters' "Cabezon" and Luka Bloom's "Cold Comfort" were marred by overbearing bass. Still, I'd rather have too much bass than not enough, and a twist or two of the bass control toned down the Kizashi's sub so that it was more to my taste and it wasn't overpowering the rest of the frequency spectrum.

The system also had a bit of high-end harshness, particularly with acoustic guitars and cymbals, although nothing too annoying. And it was relatively smooth throughout the midrange and upper-treble frequency range and exhibited good dynamics. But where it really excelled was in producing a soundstage that was immensely wide and way deep and creating a thoroughly accurate imaging. The stage easily extended beyond the width of the vehicle and images within it were spatially separated and largely located exactly where they were supposed to be.

One test track I use, Bluesiana Triangle's "Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me," is an extended jazz jam with a very spacious mix and features a flute solo that floats above the center of the dash with the best systems. In the Kizashi, the flute imaged dead-center, while the song's multiple layers of percussion were perfectly spaced and placed around it, giving the soundstage a three-dimensional quality. These sonic perceptions were verified by the non-musical staging and imaging tests. In one, spoken voices are mixed so that they are left, center and right in the stage; in another, seven drumbeats march across the dash at precise intervals. They did this almost perfectly on both tracks. With the linearity test, a measure of how well the system's sound holds together at low and mid volume, the Kizashi rated poor and fair, respectively. And it passed the absence of noise test, which most systems usually do.

The Sources
Our 2010 Kizashi GTS comes with an AM/FM/CD player and USB/iPod integration (but no aux-in jack) as well as Bluetooth audio. While the Kizashi doesn't have the best iPod integration out there, it's also not the worst. Getting through the menus takes a bit too much button-pushing to settle on the selection you want. It also doesn't include such iPod categories as audiobooks and podcasts, although that's not unusual. One of the system's biggest disadvantages is the cheesy LED display, which can't always display all of a track's metadata and washes out in bright sunlight.

What We Say
The Kizashi has inspired something of a love fest on this blog. Post after post praises the compact sedan's performance, styling, comfort, interior space and attention to detail. It's also has standard tech features like pushbutton start and Bluetooth hands-free that are uncommon in a car costing less than $24,000. While the stock Rockford Fosgate audio system isn't perfect, it's perfectly fine for most ears and is a bargain considering it comes standard with such a budget-priced car. And you'd have to be a fool or a hardcore audiophile to want to rip it out and start from scratch.

The Scores
Sound: B-
Source Selection: A-
iPod Integration: B
Cost: A+

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

Daylight Savings Time

November 09, 2010

Ah, Daylight Savings Time, and in this instance the bad one. You get an extra hour of sleep, but it's now dark at 1700. And of course you have to reset all those clocks, including your car.

I had our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS last night and changing the clock was simple: just hold that "H" button to change the hour. No digging through menus or busting out the book for some RTFM.

I had to do the latter to adjust my inexpensive, yet complicated wristwatch.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 13,275 miles

Kizashi Hikui!

November 10, 2010

I'm not a tall guy. Maybe 5'8 on a good day. So I was surprised when I crashed my melon into the lip of the Kizashi's trunklid on two separate occasions while reaching in the trunk to grab or load stuff. Just one (er, two) of those times when your eyes and forehead take different routes. I'm accustomed to the space allowed by my Cherokee's liftgate, and even the cargo maw of the wife's 2005 Civic, which seems towering in retrospect.

Took some measurements and found that the lip of the Kizashi's trunklid is about 64 inches from the ground - prime collision plane for my frontal lobe. Also found that the decklid itself measures just 13.5 inches from back to front at the center. This stubby back end gives the Kizashi some of its design charm, and offers it a bit of distinction over every other Japanese midsize sedan.

But it's also a cranial biter and can induce immediate feelings of ill temper. Dig the little pulldown handle though, for those times when you wanna crawl in the trunk and make the world go away.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

Love for the Seats, not Bluetooth

November 16, 2010

Several of my colleagues have already noted that the seats in the Kizashi are quite good, with decent lateral and thigh support, as well as pleasant fabric coverings. I'd like to add yet another tick mark to the "plus" column in regard to the seat cushion adjustment.

Usually, if a seat cushion angle can be adjusted, it tilts the whole seat back. In a few cars, like the Kizashi, the seat bottom tilts independently of the rest of the seat. I prefer this because when I need a little more support under my legs, I don't have to re-adjust the seatback rake. I know, it's not that big of a deal, but its little touches like this that keeps the Kizashi near and dear to me.

But the Bluetooth streaming audio is giving me problems. I haven't been in the Kizashi in a while, so I assumed I'd have to pair my iPhone to the stereo again. Not so. My device was still in the system, but I had to shuffle through a whole bunch of voice-activated menus to re-connect. Then, I had to go into my iPhone's settings to complete the process. When I was finally able to play music again, I had completed just as many steps as I did when I first paired it to the system.

This morning, I figured I could just hop in and start listening. Nope. I had to go through the whole process again. Strange, I thought, because when I had it for a weekend not too long ago, I didn't have to go through all of this. Next time, I'll make sure to bring my iPhone cable.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

Thoughts from the Valet

November 19, 2010

The Kizashi was my car this week for LA Auto Show festivities, doing a wonderful job not getting lost in the Convention Center parking lot and zipping along the amazingly empty surface streets leading into and out of LA. Seriously, where else on Earth is traffic lighter going out of downtown during rush hour than going into it? It's reverse traffic and it makes no sense at all.

Beyond that, the Kizashi also brought me to GM's design center in North Hollywood for the sneak preview of the Cadillac ULC. As I pulled up to the obligatory valet parking stand, the nice valet chap took the Kizoo's fob and asked ...

" Does that thing got a Hemi? Do they sell these in America? Did you have to import it?"

"Well buddy," I said. "They actually do sell them in America, just not here in L.A. because there's no Suzuki dealership. It's a shame because it's a really great car."

He then took the car, drove it 38 miles, ate a tray of fries, parked it illegally and backed it into a pole. Actually he didn't, but when that doesn't happen with a valet I'm naturally shocked.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 13,768 miles

Selective Memories

November 22, 2010

It's been a while since I drove the Kizashi, but when I hopped in and hit preset #2 for the driver's seat I was pleasantly surprised to find my setting still there. Though this memory feature is for the seat only (not the sideview mirrors as well as in some cars), it's still a nice and unexpected perk given the Kizashi's price range. Likewise for the keyless ignition/entry.

While pairing up my phone I initially felt the same about the Suzook's Bluetooth...until I discovered it doesn't feature automatic phone book downloading. Hyundai has this convenience and so does Ford's Sync, so this was something of a disappointment. Ahh, the laments of the 21st century...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 13,542 miles

Fuel Range?

November 29, 2010

I was driving our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi to LAX this weekend, and as usual I was running late and low on fuel. The first thing I did was check the range on the Kizashi's display located between the tachometer and the speedometer. The range said 25 miles, and since I was about 20 miles from LAX I figured I should be good.

I kept checking the range to see how far it would drop. The last displayed range was 22 miles, after that it read "- -" which isn't too useful. Why would it stop showing the range when it nears the end of a tank? isn't this when the range is most useful?

Seth Compton, Field Producer @ 14,045 miles

What A Shame It's Invisible

December 01, 2010

While cruising through the Kizashi's recent posts I saw that Warren informed y'all that Kizashi's sales for October were up 22 percent over September. Pretty impressive...until you read further to find that those October sales amounted to just 583 units. I have to say that was rather disappointing to me. It's just a shame that more folks aren't giving this well-built, dynamically pleasing and nicely equipped (standard keyless entry/ignition and iPod integration) car a look. In the ultra-competitive midsize sedan segment, it might as well be invisible given the lack of attention it gets from shoppers.

Not helping matters is the news a few months back that Suzuki bought back (i.e. closed) about 50 off its 354 dealerships, not exactly a confidence boost for the outlook of the brand. But according to Automotive News, Suzuki plans no further reductions.

A concern for many potential buyers is getting service and repairs after they purchase a Kizashi, should more dealers end up closing down the road. But they might take solace in the fact that real Suzuki vehicles (not the brand's reworked Daewoos of the early 2000s such as the Verona and Forenza) tend to be pretty reliable. If this was a product of Land Rover, I could see panicking about this. My chief concern would be getting any warranty-related repairs if my dealer happened to close after my purchase. But I imagine that even if the worst thing happened and the company closed all its dealerships, Suzuki would honor any warranty claims through approved repair shops.

Many of you know that we think quite highly of the Kizashi. Considering the goodness of the car itself against the potential inconvenience of finding a dealer for purchase and/or maintenance service, would you consider one?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 14,123 miles

New Sport, but no Turbo

December 08, 2010

Recently, I checked Edmunds' 2011 New Car Buyer's Guideto see if Suzuki will be dropping a much-rumored turbo into the Kizashi GTS, which is a favorite long-term car here.

Monsieur Jacquot wrote, "2011 Suzuki Kizashi: A new Sport package is available for GTS and SLS models for 2011. It adds a redesigned front fascia with chrome trim and a new lower grille, rocker panel extensions and lower body-side molding. There's also a trunk-mounted spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside there's a new steering wheel and contrasting stitching on the seats (leather in the SLS), shift boot and parking brake boot."

So No Joy on the turbo — for now. Which is a shame, because one of the few improvements I would like on the Kizashi GTS is more power. Almost everything else is great.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 14,300 miles

They Love It In New Zealand

December 14, 2010

Suzuki's Kizashi continues to be criminally overlooked in the United States but at least it's getting some love Down Under. The car was recently named "Supreme Winner" in something called the 2010 New Zealand Auto Association Motoring Excellence Awards, competing against models by Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. The Kizashi also took the top prize in the competition's "Medium Car" category.

The judges gave the Suzy props for having "astonishing attention to detail both inside and out" and praised it for being "refined, quiet and comfortable." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Buying Without a Net?

December 16, 2010

I've had my first two drives in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi and will merely echo all the things my astute fellow editors have said: It's perky, responsive and extremely fun to drive (I'm just reacquainting myself with manual transmissions, and I loved this one). I also appreciated the Kizashi's zen-like instrument array. I've pretty much had it with the nav/radio/DVD/DVR/HD/3D clutter. Let's just show the radio station and keep our eyes on the road.

But would I buy one, given the much-discussed dearth of dealer support for service? After reading the comments here, I assumed that there wasn't a Suzuki dealership west of the Mississippi. So I dropped my home zip code into Suzuki's online dealership finder and learned that there are two in Orange County, in cities not far from where I live. (And yes, I would go behind the dreaded Orange Curtain for auto buying and service. If the OC is good enough for John Wayne and the Real Housewives, it's good enough for me.)

Besides, I currently get my 2000 Acura TL serviced at a dealership that's eight (surface street) miles from home. If I were a Kizashi owner who needed service, I'd have to go 14 (freeway) miles. Should that be a deal breaker?

Put it this way: I wouldn't let six miles stand in the way if I was considering the Kizashi among other cars at the excitement/expense intersection Suzuki's marketeers have plotted. On the other hand, Suzuki ranks poorly in J.D. Powers' most recent service satisfaction survey. So I'd have to factor that into the equation. And give the car a few more drives.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @14,724 miles

Poetry at Rest

December 20, 2010

As you might have read, Southern California is being pummeled by rainstorms, and will go on being soaked almost until Christmas. There was something about the weather, seasonal decorations and Mark Takahashi's Kizashi etymology that inspired me. Here's haiku for a Monday:

Rain shrouds this beach town
At dusk, clouds relent and part
Kizashi aglow

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 14,839 miles

Goes 204 mph

December 27, 2010

Back in the summer, our friends at Road and Track magazine set a record at the Bonneville Speed Weeks with a modified Suzuki Kizashi. With my friend Sam Matani behind the wheel the sedan set a new record in the Blown Gas Coupe class of over 204 mph putting my friend in the exclusive 200 mph club.

Just another reason why the Kizashi is the coolest car nobody seems to know about.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 14,857 miles

15,000 Miles

December 28, 2010

Today our long-term Suzuki Kizashi GTS broke 15,000 miles, which means its due for its second scheduled maintenance.

I should also point out that the Kizashi has been dead reliable, needing nothing in those 15,000 miles besides a scheduled 7,500 mile service and a tire replacement at 10,000 miles.

Great car.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Topping Off the Oil

December 29, 2010

We happened to check the oil when our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS hit the 15,000-mile mark. Right away, I took a shine to the Kizashi's under-hood packaging: There's the dipstick right out in front (and partially extracted so you can see it better) and I didn't have to dig around hot engine components to reach it.

The oil registered below the marked halfway point on the dipstick, so we surmised that it was a 1/4 to 1/3 of a quart low. A quick check of the owner's manual shows that the Kizashi will take any old kind of 5W30 so long as the bottle carries the American Petroleum Institute starburst. Easy enough, we already had a partial bottle on-hand in the supply closet.

Adding oil couldn't be any easier. Good packaging lets the Kizashi owner slide the bottle right in, and there's absolutely no need for a funnel. I didn't slop a bit of the 1/4-quart or so of oil that I added — which I believe is a first for all my funnel-less oil top-offs over the years.

These are minor details, but I take them as yet more evidence that the people who engineered the Suzuki Kizashi really paid attention to all the small stuff — and these are the kind of things that make a car endearing as months and years go by.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,050 miles

No Maintenance Warning

December 30, 2010

Our Suzuki Kizashi just passed 15,000 miles, which means it's time for its second scheduled trip to the dealer for service. Even though we're pretty good at keeping track of these things, we realize not everyone out there is. So it would be nice if the Kizashi gave a reminder upon startup, as on more and more cars these days, that it's due for a servicing.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,182 miles

Another Comment On ESP

January 02, 2011

I like that the Suzuki Kizashi's ESP stability system can be turned off even after you've started driving. There are a few cars out there which make you come back to a complete stop if you forget to turn it off, which is annoying. I know, I know: some of you are going to freak out that I ever have the audacity to turn the ESP off while driving on public roads in the first place. So go ahead and freak out.

My second crappy photo unintentionally shows the possible warning lights on the Kizashi, including some that should never display on our test car, such as those related to all-wheel drive.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,281 miles

Kizashi Kicks?

January 03, 2011

After 10 months living with our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi I'm convinced it's one of the best cars nobody is paying attention to. In an attempt to solve this problem Suzuki has launched a new batch of TV commercials for the sedan.

What do you think? Are they clever or are they just trying too hard?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Exhaust Tips A Case Of Overpromise, Underdeliver?

January 04, 2011

It's usually not a good thing to overpromise and underdeliver. Whether in your work at the office, in the sports you play, or with hulking exhaust tips when you don't have the power to back them up.

The Suzuki Kizashi has just such a pair of large, stylized outlets, which might lead you to believe it's packing a feisty turbo-four, or at least a smooth V6.

Neither is true, but at least the Kizashi's 185-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder provides decent enough oomph and the chassis semi-sporting handling to the point that you don't feel completely led astray. Plus, there's that jazzy-looking body and the Suzuk's great value for the money, $23,614 as-tested.

Look more closely and you'll see the Kizashi's tips aren't actually exhaust tips, but rather just outlets. Behind each outlet lies the true peashooter exhaust. Those big outlets are purely for show.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,369 miles

The People Have Spoken

January 05, 2011

I'm sure some of you are tired of hearing us blather on about how good the Kizashi is. So to change things up (and prove that we didn't get free GSX-Rs or V-Stroms along with our Kizashi) how about hearing what consumers who've chosen the Kizashi have to say?

Turns out that for the most part, their sentiments on this fine dark horse sedan echo our own...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 15,418 miles

Open Secret

January 13, 2011

Last Thursday I got a call nobody wants to get. I had to head back home to say goodbye to an old friend of mine. Thankfully with the Detroit auto show in full swing, there wouldn't be a big demand on cars and I was given the keys to the Kizashi on Monday.

This car has been here for almost a year and I've never been behind the wheel. To boot, it's from an automaker I'd nearly forgotten about. I was coming into it with open eyes.

My eyes were open wide from shock from the very moment I drove north to San Francisco. I've been in a lot of other Suzuki products over the years. Obviously if I can't remember them all that well, it's not saying much for their cars. The Kizashi, however, is a wonderful little car.

It feels like a car that should cost more than it does. It has a refined road feel that is very composed and comfortable. It has nicely balanced steering that felt very progressive for turning input. On top of that, it has a perfectly adequate power plant. I say perfectly adequate because it's just enough power that you'd need to pass and accelerate, without having a lot to spare.

In the two days I had the Kizashi, I never got tired of driving it. It was fun to drive it during the long stretches of I-5, around the busy traffic of Market Street and navigating my way around the steep hills of North Beach. Overall it's wrapped in a stylish packaging that makes this car very attractive. It reminds me of a Mazda 3 in feel and function, but with much better looks.

I just feel as a Suzuki, it's going to be unjustly overlooked. It's like an open secret, which is sad for such a great car. Yeah the shrinking Suzuki network of dealers is a concern, but at this price point, the content you get with that price and just the kind of car it is to drive, I'm going to try to shed more light on the Kizashi.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 16,482 miles


January 14, 2011

I might be a little picky about this, but I like to see the information of the tracks I'm playing either from my CD or iPod. The way the display works on the Kizashi, it cuts off most of the information. I know most of my music, but it's nice to familiarize myself with the lost tracks deep within my library.

Do you find these kinds of displays annoying like I do, or isn't it really not that big of a deal?

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Those Look A Little Familiar

January 14, 2011

I was noticing the Kizashi's 20-spoke wheels this morning and I realized that there aren't many company's producing wheels this elaborate. In fact, one in particular comes to mind...

Hmmm, where do you think Suzuki got that idea? Alpina has a history with this style of wheel which dates back to the 70s 3.0 CSL. And it's still using the 20-spoke design today on the B7. Sure, it's not identical, but it's hard to jam 20 spokes in there and have things look unlcuttered or unfamiliar.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

The Little Things

January 14, 2011

Last night I mentioned how much I loved the feature content of our Kizashi. My favorite feature has to be the keyless system.

It may seem trivial, but when I was in a big rush in trying to do a little shopping for some decent clothes, getting a hair cut and running out to a service in less than two hours time, not having to fumble for your keys in your pocket while holding bags is such a nice convenience. It's also nice to just sit into the car and hit the button to start the car.

It's little things like this that play such a large roll on how nice this car is. This Suzuki has really impressed me.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 16,498 miles

Got Boom Boom?

January 17, 2011

So there's this giant advertisement for Rockford Fosgate in the Kizashi's back window. And then, hiding under the rear decklid, well...

There's this solid reason to believe she's got Boom Boom. Crank the volume knob and there's more than just visual justification for that belief. I'm no audiophile, but, yeah, there's some bass here.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Cargo Area. Not So Flat.

January 18, 2011

It's not easy to find something to whine about with the Kizashi. As you've witnessed, we think it's crimally overlooked and one heck of a good car for the money. And I'll admit, I'm a lover, too. This is a darned fine car.

But I did find this. You see, I'm a guy who likes to shove bikes into cars.

Well, for that to work really well, you need a flat cargo area. As you can see, that's just not the case in the Kizashi. There's a good five inches of rise to contend with when loading any oversize cargo into the Suzuki's trunk.

Not a deal breaker, but a bit of a bummer. Maybe I should follow my own advice and load bikes in the back seat.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Center Mount The Child Seat?

January 19, 2011

Here's a nice feature which isn't common in cars the size of the Kizashi: A center-mounted top-strap anchor for a child seat. However, Suzuki acknowledges in the Kizashi's owner's manual that there are only enough lower LATCH anchors to accommodate two seats — one on either side.

As you can see, there are a total of four lower anchor points — two for each each side. And each one has a corresponding top-strap anchor.

So what's the center-mounted top-strap anchor for?

Suzuki is yet to return our phone calls on this, but here's what we know for sure: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 — the federal standard for child restraint systems — mandates that lower LATCH anchors are to be positioned 280mm (about 11 inches) apart. And that's exactly the width of the Kizashi's anchors when measured individually (left or right side, not middle).

However, the distance between the "inner" anchors of each side of the Kizashi's lower anchors is about 406mm (16 inches).

Here's where things get sticky. As a parent, I prefer the mounting in the middle position (and I'm not the only one), which provides a space cushion on either side of the child seat. And it appears — because of the center top-strap anchor — that Suzuki endorses this mounting location despite the fact that it requires use of the wider lower LATCH anchors.

What's more, the child seat, which has flexibly mounted latches, secures in the 406mm location just as solidly as it does in the 280mm LATCH anchors. This easily meets the 1-inch side-to-side and fore/aft movement standard recognized by both authorities on the subject and parents with even a mild grasp of physics.

Certainly LATCH anchor spacing was standardized for a reason. Still, when the alternative is to commit to one side or the other, or install in the center position with a belt (which I've never found secure), I'd argue that the space cushion is worth it.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Most Japanese Car Name?

January 19, 2011

Suzuki Kizashi is a pretty unapologetically Japanese name. It says the company is proud of its heritage, its nation of origin and doesn't care if a whole heap of people can't figure out how to pronounce what is ultimately a phonetic spelling. (Seriously, you can't pronounce that? It's not exactly Krzyzewski). Having said that, I still stand by the fact that it's not the most harmonious sounding word combination in the world.

My question is this, if "Suzuki Kizashi" is the most Japanese car name, what about the other car-building nations? What's the most German car name or American car name? Here are my thoughts, feel free to share yours.

Germany: Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen
The umlaut is sadly an unfriendly character to our blogs, so you can't quite appreciate the old G's full name in its original uber-Deutsche glory.
Honorable Mention: BMW Bavaria, Audi Steppenwolf concept

France: Renault Espace
Unless you parler francais and know how to pronounce such French words, there's no way in hell you'd correctly pronounce that and thus avoid the disgusted, snooty look any tricolore-waving Frenchman smoking a cigarette would give you upon saying "Ren-alt S-Space"
Honorable Mention: Renault Vel Satis, Citroen Deux Cheveux (see above)

Italia: Alfa Romeo Guilietta
Italian is the ultimate romance language and what sounds more romantic than Alfa's reborn small car nameplate? Just say that in your best Italian accent and tell me it doesn't sound sexy. Make it Guilietta Alfa Romeo and you've just created the name of a smokin' hot babe.
Honorable Mention: Ferrari Italia (too obvious)

Australia: Holden Maloo
"You really shouldn't hold your loo in public. Oh, that's a car? Ah, Australia. Now I understand. I suppose Holden Wallabongabongamaloo wouldn't fit on the trunk."
Honorable Mention: Holden Jackaroo

South Korea: Hyundai Equus
Americans can't say the brand name correctly because the company itself told them to say it wrong (Koreans do not rhyme it with 'Sunday'). The Koreans can't pronounce the nameplate correctly (it comes out very awkwardly like Eck-wyoos like they've just smelled something stinky).
Honorable Mention: Ssangyong Actyon

United Kingdom: Triumph Spitfire
A car named after the saviour of Britain (besides the Germans getting distracted by Russia and you know, the below entry). A brand who's name is quintessentially grand and English. Every one of these little roadsters should've had an RAF bullseye on each door and a picture of Sir Winston on the hood, er bonnet.
Honorable Mention: Land Rover Defender

United States of America: Dodge Ram
Those are two verbs and America is nothing if not a country of action. It's right to the point and brevity is an American virtue. Just try saying that without sounding like your barking orders to a frightened sailor. "Damn it Jones, Dodge! Now Ram!"
Honorable Mention: Dodge Charger, Pontiac Chieftain (the most Native American name)

James Riswick, Automotive Editor


January 20, 2011

I generally like a unified color for gauges, instruments and switches at night. I also prefer them to be red, since I find it causes a little less fatigue. In the animation above, I Photoshopped the Kizashi's dash colors between the standard light blue and red. The speedometer and tachometer are a little harder to read, though. I'd simplify those layouts and use a bolder typeface if I could.

What do you think? Go for red alert?

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

The New Jetta?

January 27, 2011

Once upon a time there was this little sedan called the Volkswagen Jetta. Though this car lived in the humble midsize-sedan segment, it was known for offering a driving experience that was rich with refinement. Interior materials were impeccable and ride quality was smooth as a politician's smile. The Jetta came to be known as the car to choose for those seeking premium quality without the steeper price tag of a traditional luxury model.

For model-year 2011, the Jetta sedan changed. It got a top-to-bottom overhaul designed to broaden its appeal - it grew bigger and got a much lower price tag. Unfortunately, the Jetta sedan also saw a marked decline in quality. Its interior had always been the model's strong suit, but now the useful comfort and convenience features and outstanding materials quality were gone. The Jetta sedan had lost its specialness.

Enter the Suzuki Kizashi, which stands to fill the void left by the Jetta by delivering the sort of quality you don't normally expect to see in this segment. The car looks good both inside and out and succeeds in giving you more for less - I'm struck by this fact every time my gaze falls upon its stylish center stack or my fingers manipulate one of its well-weighted knobs or buttons. This is a car that is no stranger to excellence.

The Jetta sedan established a niche following but it never really became a mainstream hit; its makeover is designed to change that and give it a flavor that's more palatable to the masses. It'll be interesting to see if that works out. It'll also be interesting to see what the future holds for the Kizashi. It delivers refinement but the Jetta's trajectory seems to suggest that mere refinement isn't enough for broad, chart-topping success.

What are your thoughts?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Tips or Pipes?

January 27, 2011

Not too long ago, Mike Monticello wrote a post about the stylized tips on our Kizashi. His argument was that the stylized tips made you believe the car had more power than it actually does. While I see his point and agree with him, I like them because I dig the "in bumper" look.

This trend is not a new one. In fact I spied this feature on comrade Takahashi's sweet '57 T-Bird. Yes, the T-Bird has straight pipes through a metal bumper in contrast to the current versions which most are "poser" tips, like the Lexus IS-F.

What do you think? Are they "push up bras" as carguy622 hilariously equated them to, or are they something you really like? Or would you just prefer to see some nice pipes sticking out from under the bumper?

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer


January 28, 2011

"What kinda car is that?"

"It's a Suzuki Kizashi"

"Suzuki? Like the motorcycles?"


"I figured it was one of those new Korean cars....looks good"

In one form or another this sort of banter happened three times in three days, and included references to the four-wheel-friendly Samurai, and the always expected "They make cars?".

The last Suzuki I was in was a video shoot for the 2008 SX4 Sedan, and this is a giant leap forward.

Last weekend I was lucky to log a little over 700 miles in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. My wife and I were set to stay in Big Sur, CA for a couple of nights, and the route was set. Up the grapevine to the 58 west, and eventually Hwy 1 north up the coast.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The clutch felt right, as did the the supportive seats. The iPod interface was easy to learn and control. I had enough headroom and my cooler AMAZINGLY fit in the trunk. It always had enough power to pass, and it handled the curves well. Even though I drove a tad bit aggressively, we managed a 27 mpg average.
Of course we had fun. Anytime away and worry-free is both revered and cherished - and the Monterrey Bay Aquarium was pretty cool, too.

But anyway - back to the car. Twenty miles from home and another banter starts -

"I like this Kizashi"

"I do too, but I wouldn't buy one"

Are questions of Suzuki's future, resale values, and service locations clouding my vision?

John Adolph, Senior Video Specialist

Another European Trait

January 31, 2011

It had been a while since I gassed up the Kizashi. so after glancing at the lower left dash area and then down alongside the driver's seat for the fuel door release, I remembered that there wasn't one. After earning our admiration for its fine road manners, smooth powertrain and nice cabin, had we found a place where a corner was cut? Is there no security for the fuel filler?

Nope, turns out the Kizashi has another Euro characteristic — central locking that includes the fuel door — something I remember Mercedes-Benz touting decades ago. It's essentially a system that automatically locks/unlocks the fuel door in lockstep with the doors. So when the doors are locked, so is the fuel door. When they (or just the driver's) are unlocked, likewise for that metal flap. To gas up, just push on the left side of the flap and it swings open (and yes, it has a built-in cap holder too.) Maybe this small convenience still doesn't match Ford's capless filler for the ultimate in low-effort refueling, but it does make it a little easier than most cars, which require you to first hit a button or pull a lever.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,039 miles


February 02, 2011

It's hard to find something bad to say about our Kizashi. I know some readers are skeptical of our Suzuki Lovefest, but the car is just good. Its four-cylinder winds out with a pleasant growl. Even when you push it, it doesn't really screech or buzz. The six-speed manual slices through its gates smoothly, and the clutch action is almost too light. I wouldn't mind more resistance, but certainly ain't complaining. Even the steering wheel and shift knob feel properly thick and purposeful.

The Kizashi's not trying to fool you with pretensions. It just has the right feel for a car with some surprisingly wide limits. I bet many of my colleagues would vote it the fleet's Most Underrated. But I did find this annoyance, none too minor, after being away from the car for awhile.

From my ideal seat position, my right knee knocks into and rests on the side of the center stack (sorry, the black trousers make for a monochromatic image). And that's not a pliable surface. That's hard, unforgiving plastic. This isn't unusual, as most drivers probably deal with this to some degree. But the Kizashi's center stack does seem to intrude into the driver's legroom more than other cars in the fleet, at least in the way that I position the seat.

After 15 minutes or so, I had to reach down, between my legs, ease the seat back...wait a minute, scratch that. I had to reach down, to the left-hand side of the driver's seat cushion, ease the seat back...(lacks a certain Diamond Dave lilt, I think).

Moving back frees up the knee, but also makes the clutch pedal more of a reach. Workable, just not ideal. And not a deal-breaker. If I owned Suzy, I'd slap a small patch of 3 or 4mm neoprene on the stack and sit upright, watching the bewildered traps of motorists in the rearview, mouthing the vowels: "Key-zah...huh?"

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

Hitting the Numbers

February 05, 2011

For nearly 20,000 miles under our oftentimes heavy feet, our Kizashi has been averaging 23.8 mpg. The EPA estimate for combined driving is 24 mpg, lending credibility to the agency's now more realistic mileage estimates. Yes, that's 3 mpg less than what a four-cylinder Accord with a manual transmission rates, but still not bad overall considering our Suzook spends plenty of time in notorious L.A. traffic.

My dad's in town visiting and escaping the blizzards back east, so tomorrow we're going to hit the road for a day trip up to Santa Barbara. Maybe we'll take a vineyard tour as my girlfriend and I did some time ago (as seen above). On tomorrow's relaxed cruise, I'm hoping to better the EPA's highway estimate of 29 mpg.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,304 miles

Seat Satisfaction

February 07, 2011

Daddy-o and I logged a few hundred miles on the Kizashi yesterday. As stated in my previous post, we decided to cruise up to Santa Barbara for a lil' road trip before watching the Super Bowl. It also gave me a chance to get another passenger's opinion on the Kizashi.

JDP Senior ("Joe" in this case) was duly impressed by the upscale interior, exclaiming "This is a Suzuki? It rides nearly as nice as Joe's Mercedes." (My brother has an '04 S500). The Kizashi's quiet ride and lack of powertrain vibration were also likely key factors in that opinion. But for both of us the seats were the most impressive aspect of the cabin. Ideally contoured and firm but not unyielding, they provided generous under-thigh support and kept our finicky backsides comfortably content throughout the four-plus hours we spent in 'em.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,505 miles

Code Name Kardashian

February 09, 2011

It must be a trend — parental types being carted around in our Kizashi. My in-laws have been in town, and last night, we went out for Japanese food (at a restaurant whose neighbors are a medical marijuana clinic and the lovely coin-op laundry you see above).

The outing gave me a chance to see how the Kizashi suits passengers in their 70s with two very different physical profiles. My mother-in-law is a slight woman with mobility issues. With the usual help, she had little trouble getting in and out of the back seat. My father-in-law is a big boy — as he'll be the first to admit. He overflowed the passenger seat a bit, groused about the dash nudging his knees and took a few pokes in the side as I shifted. Like I said, he's a big fella and I don't think this would be a great car for him. But it clearly intrigued him.

Before we got in, he peered at the car from our front door. "What is that again?"

"It's a Suzuki Kizashi," I said.

Maybe I mumbled, because his eyebrows shot up. "A Kardashian?"

We fell out laughing and made some jokes in questionable taste about trunk size. And for the rest of the night, we called it the Kardashian (or Car-dashian, if you prefer). Suzuki marketers and actual Kardashians, take note.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @18,568 miles

Service at 15,000 Miles

February 11, 2011

Suzuki recommends maintenance on the 2010 Kizashi GTS every 7,500 miles. When we rolled over 15,000 the other week it was time to schedule our second service. Quality Suzuki in Midway City took good care of us at the last interval, so we returned expecting the same treatment. We didn't get it.

Our first mistake was not returning to Paul, the service writer that handled our Kizashi at 7,500 miles. We phoned in our appointment with him but he wasn't in by the time we arrived. Instead, another member of the service team helped us.

"Come into my office," he began. We sat down and went through the normal routine. We requested the Suzuki-recommended 15k service and he printed out an estimate with a list of items. Two of them caught our eye: replace cabin air filter and throttle body service.

First, we questioned the throttle body service. "Oh yeah, the valve starts sticking at around 50-60,000 miles if you don't service it." We restated that we were only interested in the items recommended by American Suzuki, not the dealer version. "Yes, this is recommended by Suzuki," he assured us. As you might suspect, this was not stated as necessary according to the owner's manual. We let him do the service for no reason other than to call him out on this blog.

Our Suzuki literature informed us that the cabin air filter wasn't due for replacement until the 30k service. We were again told that Suzuki recommended we do it now. And again we let him perform the service. When we paid the bill later, the advisor even had the nerve to say, "That was the first cabin air filter we've replaced on a Kizashi. Our wholesale price is $140. Good thing for you I'd already quoted you a lower price." We paid $95 for the filter.

Our first service at Quality Suzuki was pleasant. It was the reason we went back. But this visit made us not want to go back again. The advisor didn't see us as customers, but instead, dollar signs. Quality Suzuki, you lost our business. With business models like this, should we be surprised that Suzuki dealerships are going out of business?

Total Cost: $208.42

Days out of Service: None

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,478 miles


February 16, 2011

Our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi returned from its 15K service last month, and we weren't pleased with the experience. Here's another reason. The scheduled maintenance included the usual oil change, tire rotation, and apparently reducing unsprung mass from the right front wheel. Notice anything missing?

This is unacceptable, to say the least. It's also a dramatic illustration for the reason we have a rigorous check list we follow prior to testing each and every vehicle that goes to the track. Of course, we check (and if necessary, snug to 90 lb-ft) all twenty, or in this case nineteen lug nuts.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 18,801 miles

Multi-speed Window Motors

February 17, 2011

I know we've blathered on and on and on about all the features in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS, but here's another unexpected example of thoughtful design that most manufacturers don't bother with: When the front window is nearly closed, the motor slows down. Why is this a benefit? Sometimes I like to leave a little crack at the top on a hot day and this makes it easier than the typical full-speed-ahead rate of window closure.

I've only seen this on some high-end luxury cars, but, of course, I can't remember which one(s). Bentley? Mercedes-Benz? Lexus? Help me out here, please.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 18,875 miles

Will it Fit?

February 17, 2011

Over the weekend, my daughter and I had a mission: learn to ride her bicycle "like a big girl" without training wheels. It's a big day in every child's life. I remember the day I learned as clearly as if it were yesterday.

There's a giant parking lot at the nearby courthouse where most of the neighborhood children make that leap from terror to triumph. And that's where we needed to go, but we needed to get her bicycle there — in the trunk of the Kizashi. Would it fit?

Of course it did. Not that the Kizashi has a particularly voluminous trunk, but it is tall from floor to the underside of the lid which helps.

It also helped that the bike in question is teeny. That shot below is a bit deceiving, however, as the driveway slopes down and makes the "Mystic" look even smaller than it is.

Mission Accomplished! And there were no falls, bumps or bruises.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 18,855 miles

Light and Easy

February 18, 2011

I'm a three-pedal guy. Yep, I prefer the additional involvement, work and skill that driving a true manual transmission car requires. For folks like me with 95 octane in their veins, it's just more fun keeping the engine on song on a deserted winding road and clicking off smooth, rev-matched downshifts all by using your own brain and limbs.

That said, dealing with the almost nightly, soul-crushing slog seen above is more than enough to challenge one's allegiance to a DIY tranny. Thankfully, the Kizashi is blessed with a light-effort, progressive clutch and a slick gearshift that make it ideal for urban warriors who still get a kick out of driving a stick.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18, 895 miles

Ideal iPod Hookup

February 21, 2011

Kudos for Suzuki for using this covered compartment in front of the shifter for the iPod hookup. It's a cinch to plug in the iPod as you can see the port and access it without any awkward fumbling around such as when it's located in the glovebox or center console box. And unlike using one of the latter locations, you won't have to rearrange other things, such as the owner's manual(s) or umm, gloves in the glovebox or whatever you've stuffed into the console box.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 19,210 miles

It's About the Overall Experience

February 24, 2011

I often find myself nit-picking details in our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi's interior. The small, pixellated radio display is straight out of the 1990s, but it's coping with all the media options we have here in 2011. And it's really obvious that said radio unit is sourced from a different supplier than the gauge pack, whose digits and markings are of a completely different typeface — and one that I find a little difficult to read in the Kizashi's white-on-black illumination. And the shifter, although slick through its gates, feels plasticky and a touch flimsy in my hand.

Yet, even with my excessively critical eye(s), I can't deny that just like being in the Kizashi. And it's not any one detail or feature that makes or breaks the experience.

Rather, there's an overall sort of appeal to this Suzuki. The seats are well shaped and truly comfortable, and in the midst of a commute, you don't dwell on the absence of lateral bolstering. The seating position is well judged with good adjustability for the seat, telescoping steering wheel and mirrors, and a relatively low cowl by current standards — so the visibility is good.

Materials quality is solid — just good enough that you can be impressed by the Kizashi, but not so luxurious that you're moved to compare it premium-brand sedans. Yeah, there are few plastic bits that I wish felt a little better, but overall, the stuff is far nicer than in any other Suzuki I've driven. Fit and finish is good, too; there aren't any obviously misaligned panels or plastics with leftover flashing staring you in the face.

Driving the Kizashi, I feel a little bit smarter and more sensible than usual. Yeah, I could pay more for a car that had larger, more attractive displays and controls from a single supplier, but given how functional and comfortable the Kizashi ends up being on the whole, it hardly seems necessary.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,315 miles

What's Missing?

February 25, 2011

Weeks go by between my stints in our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS, and every time I get back into this midsize sedan, I ask myself why don't I drive this car more often, because it's really quite good to drive.

But in spite of that, I just haven't grown attached to our Kizashi.

I really don't know quite why, either. I like the way the six-speed manual transmission swaps gears — the shifter is slick between the gates, the clutch easy to manage. Heel-and-toe downshifting is satisfying.

The handling is good, especially considering this is an unassuming, front-wheel-drive commuter car. The suspension feels soft at first, but rises to the challenge if you want to take a corner, or two, or three, with some enthusiasm.

So I've come up with three possible explanations for why I'm not a Kizashi supporter:

1. The engine is very smooth, but devoid of personality. I like shifting a lot, so slow(ish) cars don't usually bother me, but there's nothing happening with this powerband. It feels flat and I have little interest in going to redline.

2. The steering doesn't have enough feedback. Effort levels are good, but the steering feels more distant and electric than I'd like.

3. There's quite a bit of road noise. Possibly this has increased as the 235/45R18 94V Dunlop SP Sport 7000 tires have aged. A noisy ride doesn't usually bother me that much (see Mazdaspeed 3), but maybe it bugs me more in the Kizashi.

So that's my list. And, no, I won't be driving the Suzuki this weekend.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,345

The Right Size

March 07, 2011

The Kizashi has been in our long-term fleet for almost a year now. And if you've been keeping up with the posts, you're no doubt aware that we've written a lot of positive commentary on this overlooked sedan. I was reminded of this last week when I took the key to our Kizashi. It had been more than six months since I had last driven it, but all the things that I liked about our car instantly came back, including the refined ride quality, upscale interior and attractive styling. It's just a really cool car.

I also realized it just feels right in terms of size for what I envision a sedan being for my family (wife, 3-year-old, baby on the way). The Kizashi's not big and bloated like a lot of new family sedans. Yet there's still enough room in the backseat for kids and most adults to be comfortable. Interestingly, the Kizashi is just a tad bigger than the typical small sedan.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 19,583 miles

Would You Buy One?

March 09, 2011

Let's say you're looking to spend around $25,000 for a new family sedan. Would you buy a Suzuki Kizashi? It's an interesting question. You know we've been raving about this car, but critical acclaim hasn't suddenly helped the Kizashi leap to the top of the sales charts, either. So what would stop you from buying one? Limited dealer network? The funny name? Or would you just want something else?

For me, it would be a tough call. I really do like the Kizashi, and I'd put it in my top three. But I'd also seriously consider the Ford Fusion Sport or the Kia Optima SX (turbo). Both cost about $3,000 more (Sport GTS trim, or closer to $2,000 if you fit the Suzuki with a CVT), but both also offer more in the way of acceleration, room and features. I suspect I'd end up with the Ford. But the fact that I'm listing Ford, Kia and Suzuki and not the typical Honda, Nissan and Toyota says something about the current state of family sedan market.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Holding Up

March 11, 2011

This weekend our Suzuki Kizashi will likely crest 20,000 miles. I've been paying attention this past week and I haven't heard any squeaks or rattles. The car drives just like it did a year ago. The interior has held up, too, with no noticeable scratches or defects. The all-black color scheme is a bit somber, but it also hides dirt really well.

I also went back and checked for our service reports. The first 7,500-mile service included a TSB under warranty, and the dealer at the second 15,000-mile service stuck us with some unneeded items. But in terms of mechanicals, we've had zero problems with the car.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 19,873 miles

Hittin' the Big 2-0

March 14, 2011

Somewhere between El Chatoand Tacos El Korita on my Friday night taco crawl, the odometer hit 20,000. I had been keeping track, hoping to capture the moment it rolled all those zeros up, but I had lost focus thinking of Carne Asada.

20k is pretty impressive. It's our goal to get a car to that mark in one year, and we accomplished our mission almost to the day of it's introduction. Seeing the in-house popularity of this sleeper, I don't think it'll be a problem to stack on several thousand more miles before it leaves our stable.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography @ 20,008 miles


March 16, 2011

I don't know how many times in traffic or at a stop light, I look in my rear view mirrors and see the folks behind me trying to get a better look at the name on the trunk lid of the strange looking car in front of them.

Often I can read their lips as they question what the name is, followed by a "whaaaaaa?" as the confused passengers look at each other. It's gotten to the point it's almost a Mystery Science Theater 3000 skit, complete with running commentary.

Honestly I can find it amusing while stuck in traffic, but I don't think it bodes well for Suzuki. A car too late, perhaps?

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography @ 20,190 miles


We owned a 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS for a year. During this time we encountered countless strangers formulating equally innumerable variations of the same question, "What is it?"

"Kizashi makes me think more of breakfast cereal than a car."

"What's a Kizashi? Oh, Suzuki. Like the motorcycles?"

"Suzuki makes cars, too? I didn't know that."


There is a lot in a name. Kizashi highlights Suzuki's Japanese heritage. It also differentiates the Suzuki from its peers in a highly competitive midsize sedan segment. Kizashi is an asset.

It's the Suzuki brand that's a bit of a crutch. The Kizashi is the best car built by Suzuki since it started selling in the United States 25 years ago. But nobody knows it. A smattering of Suzuki dealerships across the country doesn't help the situation. After a year behind the wheel of a Kizashi, we think it deserves more.

Why We Got It
Suzuki has a history of platform sharing. Suzuki Cultus was synonymous with the now-departed Geo Metro. Fiat named its version of the Suzuki SX4, Sedici. Even the Suzuki Forenza, which the Kizashi essentially replaced, was a product of Daewoo coordination. There is a difference with the Kizashi, though. Suzuki built this car from the ground up.

Everything on the 3,300-pound 2010 Suzuki Kizashi was new. Under the hood was a 2.4-liter inline-4 producing 185 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Many amenities, optional on competitive cars, were standard on the GTS. This was a well-equipped vehicle that was fuel-conscious, too. We set our sights on a front-wheel-drive, six-speed manual.

There was one more reason we introduced Kizashi to the long-terms. Our long-term SX4 had given us a glimpse into the world of Suzuki ownership. We read about dealership closings around the nation. We even witnessed the closure of our local service center firsthand. How much more was to come? A Suzuki in our fleet offered the insight we couldn't find anywhere else. A call to Suzuki secured our loan of a Kizashi GTS for 12 months and our test began.

Almost everybody had something positive to say about how the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi drove. Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh also offered some constructive criticism. "I am pleasantly surprised by its handling. It's pretty sharp in terms of body control and steering precision. And the grip! Clingier than I expected. Plus, it's apparent the body shell is stiff. The taut damping is allowed to work effectively and the car feels quite solid. I give the chassis a B+.

"The powertrain could use some fine-tuning, though. Forget power for a minute and think power delivery. Irrespective of how much or little power an engine makes, we want a snappy response here, both when the throttle is initially cracked and when it's flicked shut. The Kizashi, though, has quite a lazy throttle take-up when you're feeding in the pedal for a normal launch, then hangs onto revs when you want to shift. I blame the drive-by-wire throttle calibration. It's trying too hard to smooth things out and the result is that it feels like Suzuki installed sloppy engine mounts and a giant flywheel. Not a huge deal, but the whole Kizashi package would be more cohesive if it were better."

Inside the cabin our Kizashi's dark cloth interior showed little wear and tear. Inside Line Editor Ed Hellwig also praised the radio layout. "Just a quick shout-out to the boys in Hamamatsu for the design of the Kizashi head unit. That's about as clean a setup as you're going to find these days. Nicely spaced buttons, knobs for volume tuning and readable labels all around. They kept it simple and it works."

Senior Technology Editor Doug Newcomb commented on its Bluetooth interface. "While it isn't the best, it is better than some cars costing twice as much. It was relatively easy to pair my iPhone 3GS. While chatting with a friend I was struck by how clear the connection sounded in the Kizashi. If you classify Bluetooth systems as good, better and best, then the Kizashi falls somewhere in the middle. But if you go by what you get for your money, and also consider that the car's in-cabin tech comes standard, the Kizashi is way better than most."

Dealership interaction was among the most influential elements of our test. Going into the test we knew the Suzuki network was dwindling. We had one dealership within 25 miles and two more if we expanded the search radius to 50 miles from our Santa Monica office. Our decision to use Quality Suzuki in Midway City for service offered unexpected perspective on the state of affairs within the Suzuki dealer network. Our first scheduled visit at 7,500 miles was quite positive, thanks largely to an attentive service advisor. It was the second visit at 15,000 miles, with a different advisor that left a sour taste on our palettes. We were prematurely up-sold a cabin air filter and throttle body service. This happens often, and across all brands. But this advisor was especially deceitful in his approach, marring our prior perception of this dealership. A missing lugnut discovered days later furthered our disdain. Then the encounter took an unforeseen turn.

We were contacted out of the blue by Quality Suzuki to discuss our service experience. Dealer Principal Todd McCallum requested a face-to-face meeting and drove the 40-plus miles to our office. Our conversation was cordial yet succinct. It culminated with a handshake and McCallum stating, "We made a mistake. We're sorry and we have since taken measures to ensure this doesn't happen again." IL said we wouldn't return to this dealership for service. But based on the efforts made in that conference room to rectify a failed consumer relationship, we would be willing to give it another try. McCallum's visit came too late, however. The test was already complete and the car had already been returned to Suzuki.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $294.12
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Glovebox door latch recall
Non-Warranty Repairs: $228.75 for one Dunlop SP Sport 7000
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1 for glovebox door latch recall
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
Every long-term car is tested at both the beginning and end of service. The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi was no exception, and we noticed some performance differences between tests.

Acceleration from zero to 60 mph slowed 0.2 second to 8.2 (with 1 foot of rollout), while the quarter-mile results were identical, 16.2 mph at 86.9 mph. Senior Editor Josh Jacquot noted after the test, "Good shifter but sluggish throttle calibration. Gearbox is easy to work and feels solid. Throttle feels like it's always half a step behind." From 60 to zero mph the Kizashi shortened its stop to 116 feet. Jacquot added, "Reasonably solid pedal feel and relatively consistent stopping distance." Around the skid pad the Kizashi generated 0.86g of lateral force, a value on par with its first test. Time proved favorable to the slalom speed, which improved to 65.9 mph.

Observed fuel economy aligned with EPA estimates of 20 city and 29 highway mpg. We averaged 24 mpg over the lifetime of our loan. Our best single tank of fuel was 31 mpg and carried us over 400 miles before we needed to refuel.

Best Fuel Economy: 31.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.0 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 23.9 mpg

Retained Value
We added a $23,614 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS to our long-term fleet just over one year ago. During the test we accumulated just over 20,000 miles. Doing so depreciated Kizashi 24 percent from its original True Market Value (TMV®), based on a private-party sale.

For reference, our long-term 2007 Toyota Camry and 2007 Nissan Altima depreciated 26 percent at the conclusion of their tests. Our 2008 Honda Accord depreciated 20 percent. That puts the Kizashi in good company.

True Market Value at service end: $18,055
Depreciation: $5,559 or 24% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 20,160

Summing Up
Brand recognition remains a challenge for Suzuki. We owned a Kizashi for a year. Each time we climbed behind the wheel it surprised us. There was promise. Quality was good, as was resale value. The Kizashi proved a legitimate contender against the Hondas and Toyotas of the world. But where can we buy one?

A lack of dealerships to sell and service Suzuki products poses an immediate problem. A convenient location may not be an option for many consumers. Chances are they'll just go someplace else. In our experience, albeit at one dealer, the service department showed us that it cares about customer satisfaction. That is a step in the right direction. Suzuki as a brand still needs help with U.S. market expansion, however.

What is it? Until Suzuki can answer this question the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi will remain the best-kept secret in the midsize sedan segment. Editor in Chief Scott Oldham observed, "People look at this car. People ask about it when you park. It has the 'it' factor the Jetta lost and no other small sedan has ever grabbed." Coincidentally or not, just days after the Kizashi went on sale Volkswagen bought a $2.5 billion stake in Suzuki. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.