2009 Suzuki SX4 Long-Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2009 Suzuki SX4 Long-Term Road Test

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Audio & Technology

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Keeping it Simple

December 03, 2009

Here's something I like about our SX4: Suzuki hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel with its center stack secondary controls. Both the audio system and the ventilation controls follow accepted industry norms and are efficient and simple to use. The volume knob is on the left and the the tuning knob is on the right. Ventilation adjustments are made simply enough through three knobs and three buttons. Simple and good.

There's room for improvement in this design, but at this price point most manufacturers make it more difficult to use when they change the design. Thanks, Suzuki.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Road Trip Test

November 23, 2009

suzuki sx4 r34.jpg

I had a quick biz trip down near San Diego this week. Del Mar, to be precise, which is about 115 miles from our office in Santa Monica. After considering my trio of vehicle options (Ram pickup, Challenger, SX4), I went with the Suzuki. And there were a trio of reasons for my choice: fuel economy, a nav system and Bluetooth. Follow the jump to see how it fared...

Fuel economy: B-
For the 230-mile round trip (virtually all highway, and apart from a few miles of slow-moving traffic, moving along nicely at 70-75 mph), the SX4 averaged 26 mpg against the EPA highway estimate of 28 mpg.

Note: The 2010 SX4 AWD automatic will be a CVT, and mileage estimates improve to 23 city, 29 highway and 25 combined, versus our '09 with a 4-speed automatic's 21/28/24.

Navigation System: B
A bit of a reach to access, so if I had an address to enter I would detach it (it's removable from the car) and type away, obviously when I was sitting parked. And thanks to its simple, intuitive layout, entering addresses and finding gas stations and yes, Starbucks, were quick work. The voice prompts, however, sound like they're from a 1980's voice synthesizer. The Suzuki's Max Headroom is certainly not as smoothly spoken as the lady in our Honda Fit's nav system. Then again, the SX4's system came standard as opposed to commanding a near-$2,000 premium as with the Fit.

Bluetooth: C
It's nice that the system automatically downloads your phone numbers (no, they don't all do that). However, the transmission quality was sometimes rather poor. At times, the person on the other end couldn't hear me that clearly, prompting one to say that it sounded like I was underwater. Or that I was Charlie Brown's teacher.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,195 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Such a Little Nav

October 19, 2009


This weekend I was trying to find a theatre on the UCLA campus in Westwood. I knew how to get there in general but I needed help finding the exact location once I got close. I didn't really need the navigation but I wanted the map open.

The Suzuki SX4 has a funny little nav. I often forget it's there because it pops out of the top of the dash.

With such a tiny screen, it takes some getting used to. If you zoom in close enough to see street names, you lose the frame of reference around you because you see such a small area of the map.

It has some really helpful features, however. Across the top is a green bar that lets you know what street is coming up. It posts every little side street, even if it is not a turn-off. I found this most useful when driving around Westwood. I knew if I hit Sunset Boulevard I went too far. As I was looking for the theatre's parking structure, I could see Sunset just ahead. But then the nav pointed out a little driveway on the left, which was the street name I was looking for. It saved me a lot of time.

In the picture above, you can see in the middle left of the frame, the nav tells you the speed limit of the street you are on. And just below, it tells you the speed you are traveling. Nice touch. In Southern california speed limits can change in the middle of a block with no warning, depending on what town you are in. Cross an invisible border and suddenly you're speeding.

Another cute feature: Your position is marked on the screen by a little car icon. I wonder if this image is always blue or if it is blue on our screen because our SX4 is blue. Any SX4 drivers out there know the answer?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Dashboard Controls I Can Live With

September 30, 2009


One of the subtle pleasures of driving an economy car is their lack of complexity. Look at the dash on our SX4. There's virtually nothing on it that needs explanation. Three dials for the climate control system, a few basic knobs and buttons for the radio and a simplified navigation system that folds out of the way when it's not needed.

It got me thinking, if OEMs offered a simplified dash setup as an option, how many people would order it? Would the average buyer forego all the latest gadgets in favor of fewer functions that are useful more often?

My guess is "no", that's why all those gadgets are there in the first place. Manufacturers would probably love to put dashboards like this in their $50,000 sedans, but customers would surely cry foul. They want stuff for all that money even if they don't use any of it. Might be nice to have the option though.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 14,322 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Mp3 Capabilities

September 24, 2009

sx4 BLOG 1.jpg

By now it's pretty clear that we're taken with our Suzuki SX4. It's got some issues ( range, airbag light, slower than evolution), but it's got a lot to like (I'm not mentioning those, except for the one item that's the subject of this blog, we'll get there, don't worry) too.

One of my favorite things is the Garmin built-in-but-take-outable navigation system. I dig Garmin. I like the interface, I like the graphics and I like that, unlike a lot of factory systems, it's got EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD on it. In our SX4 this little gem sits smack-dab in the center of the dash in a (kinda flimsy if we're being honest) pop-up contraption wired to the factory speakers. I suppose it's nice that voice commands come through the stereo, but I don't use voice commands so mostly I find this feature irritating-- it won't let you program things while moving lest you take it out of the cradle. But, when it's plugged into the cradle it, via SD Card, is one of two ways to play MP3s in the SX4-- the first way is via MP3 encoded data CD...but who does that?

How's it work? Click, man!....click!.

Short answer: Not well. Better than nothing.

Long answer: It goes like this...

The whole shebang starts with an SD card and a dream. And by dream, I mean some way of getting data onto an SD card. In my case, it was using the cord that came with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 and my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500. That's why there are no pictures of this step. I dragged a couple of folders onto the portable drive-nee-camera and then went down to the Suzuki to get my music on.

I plugged in the card and....nothing. It couldn't find the device. Great. Back upstairs I realize that all of my music is imported from iTunes and are .m4a not .mp3. If I had a nickel for every time that happened.

So then I refilled my camera-drive with .mp3s and went back to do this the right way.

In retrospect I should have just given up and brought a CD.

Right, so back to business.

First step is to click the "Tools" button at the bottom of the home screen.

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Navigation Leaves Me at Arm's Length

August 19, 2009

Suzuki SX4 navi.jpg

I like the simple to use, yet feature packed and removable navigation system that came standard on our SX4. The only problem for me is that it's nearly out of reach, perched as it is rather far away towards the base of the windshield. When I try to use it (after pulling over to the curb or into a parking lot), it was a stretch to put fingertip to touch screen. And this from someone who, at 5'-5", has the driver seat scooched up closer to the dash than most.

As the navi is portable, I would usually just disconnect it and chipmunk away at the screen, then put it back into its mount after I'd inputted my destination and motor away. Is it just me or was this thing designed for use by those with a Phelpsian wingspan?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Some Unexpected Features Here...and Not

August 14, 2009

SX4 Stereo.jpg

I realized just how much I hate regular radio last night. While facing a 45-minute, 11-mile drive to pick up my girlfriend, I was channel surfing FM. But my efforts to avoid obnoxious commercials and equally obnoxious DJs to actually find some music were mostly fruitless.

When I noticed the SX4's satellite radio button, I was psyched! But when I pushed it...no dice. Seems we don't have a subscription in force. "No biggie, I'll just plug in my iPod" I thought. But nope, as Brent pointed out, there's no auxiliary jack, let alone an iPod hookup unless you get it at the dealer. This is rather strange, considering the SX4''s other unexpected upscale and modern features (such as those handy steering wheel-mounted audio controls and the removable nav system). Sadly, without a CD at hand (remember those?) I was at the mercy of FM.

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Built-In Removable Navi is a Great Idea

July 13, 2009

SX4 navigation system in BMW Z3

I grew tired of driving the SX4 on Saturday and decided to swing by the office to pick up "my sister's car" (Thanks Scott). But thanks to the SX4's removable Garmin navigation system, I was still able to find my evening's destination despite driving an 11-year-old roadster. There wasn't exactly a good place to put the thing, but the same could be said for a Thomas guide.

This is a fantastic idea for multi-car households, as I'm sure most folks could make due with only one navigation system split between two cars. It would certainly be a boon for folks who own an older weekend car. Obviously this goes for any store-bought, Garmin-style navi, but the fact the Suzuki's is built-in for a reasonable price (standard on the Sport) is an added advantage.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,031 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: 2 Ways the Garmin Nuvi Is Better Than iDrive

May 29, 2009

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OK, let's clarify. Our long-term 2009 Suzuki SX4's built-in but portable Garmin Nuvi unit has nowhere near the features of the iDrive navigation system in our long-term 2009 BMW 750i. But this Garmin unit is better in two basic ways.

1. Unlike iDrive, the Nuvi tells me the side of the street on which I'll find my tall nonfat double latte fix. When driving in areas in which I'm truly unfamiliar, this is inherently safer, because (a) I'm not looking every which way to find my destination; and (b) I can get in the proper lane to turn into my destination.

2. I like voice instruction. I always turn it on when I use navigation systems. And I appreciate it when a system gives me directions in plain spoken English, pronouncing street and highway names pretty close to the way I'm used to hearing them. The Garmin does that well, even in the Australian male "Lee" narrator we've selected on ours -- he can even say "Starbucks." Not only is the 750i's iDrive unit too infrequent in providing voice prompts, it can't pronounce freeway names in typical American parlance.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,448 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Discreet Navigation

May 11, 2009


There's something about windshield-mounted portable navigation systems that just looks a bit goofy. When I spy another motorist with a black-plastic blob suction-cupped to his car's windshield, it's like he's proclaiming to me: "I have no sense of direction and I don't know where I'm going!" Might as well sign an "L" on your forehead, dude.

That's why I've come to enjoy our Suzuki's SX4's factory-portable Garmin navigation system. When you don't need it, it stays hidden. When you do need it, just push down on the dash-mounted lid to pop it up. It's discrete discreet and always-available navigation for the directionally challenged.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,630 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: AUX is a Dealer Accessory

May 08, 2009


Though almost all new cars now come with an auxiliary audio jack, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 isn't one of them. I use my iPod a lot while driving, so not having an input jack on our long-term SX4 has been a little disappointing. Thankfully, Suzuki does offer a regular input jack or a specific iPod adapter (stock photo below) as dealer-installed accessories. For the iPod adapter, though, I think the head unit's poor text display capabilities would hamper its appeal.

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2009 Suzuki SX4: Technical Bang for the Buck

April 08, 2009

Suzuki SX4 Navigation.jpg

I'm still reveling in our Suzuki SX4's high-tech features. While I don't exactly need a navigation system on my daily commute (I've driven this route approximately 3,000 times in the past 7 years), I like having the screen up for several other reasons.

First, I like seeing my relative position to upcoming landmarks. Second, I love how it tells me the upcoming cross street (even when it's not in route-guidance mode). Third, it's cool that it knows the existing speed limit on whatever stretch of road I'm traveling. Finally, it tells me my current speed and direction of travel.

Again, this is all default information provided by the Garmin unit without hitting a single touch-screen button. For tech geeks (like me), that's pretty cool. To have it provided in a sub-$20,000 economy hatchback? Impressive!

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

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2009 Suzuki SX4: What is "Satisfacti" by the "Rolling St"?

April 08, 2009

2009 suzuki sx4 satellite radio display

I love that our Suzuki SX4 Crossover has satellite radio. Kid Space Live has saved my fanny more than once on a cranky drive home from day care with a toddler who's had a long day. I just wish that the SX4's radio display screen gave me more than 10 characters of information about the artist or song that's being played. The Toddler asks, "Who is singing this song, mommy?" I reply, "Dinosaur R-something, um, I'm not sure what they're called."

I realize that they've got limited real estate on the screen, but there's space for a couple more characters on there, don't you think? I recall systems in other cars with similarly limited space giving you the option of pushing a button or turning a knob to scroll through the rest of the text, but I couldn't find the same functionality in our SX4. Obviously, it's not a problem unless I'm broadening my horizons and listening to a genre of music I'm not already familiar with. Guess I'll just stick to First Wave.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 3,309 miles

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2009 Suzuki SX4: The "Hidden" Navigator

March 09, 2009


I had our 2009 Suzuki SX4 this weekend and although I have plenty to complain about -- its 13-gallon tank that could only seem to swallow 8 gallons at a time and burn through that quickly, for one -- I soon forgot all that when I remembered it had a Garmin navigation system. Yes, I completely forgot about the easy-to-work Garmin nav sitting in the jack-in-the-box compartment located on the dash over the radio controls.

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