Suzuki is renowned for its desirable motorcycles, but its cars historically haven't enjoyed nearly the same respect. The Suzuki Kizashi midsize sedan is a serious attempt to bring the company's automotive division up to snuff. Billed as a sophisticated sport sedan at a family-sedan price, the Kizashi generally delivers. It looks sharp, it drives well and its interior is one of the nicest in the segment.
While the Kizashi is billed as midsize, its dimensions actually fall in between that segment and increasingly large compacts. This means it's in the unique position to compete against both camps. It's larger, more luxurious and better built than most compacts, yet less expensive and more agile than the midsizers. We think it's definitely worth a look, but the biggest obstacle could be finding one given Suzuki's limited dealer network.
Current Suzuki Kizashi
The Suzuki Kizashi sedan is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. It comes in S, SE, Sport GTS and Sport SLS trim levels. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, Sport GTS and Sport SLS with front-wheel drive, while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional on those trims and standard on the SE and all-wheel-drive models.
Standard equipment on the base model is impressive, including keyless ignition/entry, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, a USB/iPod interface and satellite radio. Higher trims net features like alloy wheels, power seats, a sunroof, leather upholstery, steering wheel shift paddles (for the CVT), a Rockford Fosgate sound system and Bluetooth. The Sport trims get cosmetic, aerodynamic and suspension enhancements.
The Suzuki Kizashi's design is an interesting mix of familiar and novel elements. Some people might see some Volkswagen influence in the car's exterior styling, but otherwise the Kizashi is its own beast. Inside, there's an attractive dashboard design with tastefully restrained metallic accents and upscale materials. Nice touches abound, such as standard keyless ignition and cushioned chrome-ringed door handles. The backseat has plenty of room for two full-size adults, and the relatively high seat cushion actually makes the Kizashi more comfortable for long-legged rear passengers than some larger rivals.
In reviews, we've praised the Suzuki Kizashi for emulating the sophisticated driving dynamics of Japanese and European sport sedans at a fraction of their price. Grip is ample in corners, the ride is supple yet well-controlled and the steering is a bit lacking in feel but nicely weighted. Wind and road noise are kept in check on the highway, and the Kizashi has a sense of straight-ahead that's uncommon for a car starting under $20,000. The four-cylinder engine is the closest thing to a weak link here -- it's plenty peppy for normal use, but those expecting the Kizashi's power to match its sport-sedanlike handling may be disappointed, particularly if they select the CVT.
Used Suzuki Kizashi Models
The Suzuki Kizashi was new for 2010. In that first year, the Sport GTS and Sport SLS lacked the "Sport" prefix as well as the associated cosmetic, aerodynamic and suspension enhancements.