The Car Connection Suzuki XL7 Overview
The Suzuki XL7 (earlier known as XL-7, with a hyphen) was a compact crossover utility vehicle sold from 1998 through 2009 by Suzuki before its 2012 withdrawal from the North American market.
The more recent XL7, sold from 2007 through 2009, was built on underpinnings shared with the Chevrolet Equinox (and its twin the Pontiac Torrent), along with the first-generation Saturn Vue. Unlike those vehicles, though, the XL7 offered an optional third-row seat in a slightly longer vehicle. Built on the same Canadian assembly line as the Chevrolet and Pontiac, the XL7 design included a wide grille with chrome slats and trapezoidal shapes for the headlamps.
Only one engine and transmission were offered in the 2007-2009 Suzuki XL7, a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. For 2007 and 208, it was paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, but for 2009, that was replaced with GM's new six-speed automatic--raising EPA combined gas mileage for the front-wheel drive version only from 18 to 19 miles per gallon. Front-wheel drive was standard, with all-wheel drive an optional feature.
Three trim levels were offered on the XL7: base, Premium, and Luxury. The lower two offered the third-row seat as an option, while it was standard on the top-level Luxury trim. That third row seat, with a 50/50 split seat back, is really suitable only for small children, and entry and exit is challenging even by the limited standards of most third rows in compact and mid-size crossovers.
While the second-generation XL7 received decent reviews, Suzuki's small dealer network struggled badly once the economic recession hit in 2008, additionally handicapped by inadequate marketing. Sales of the XL7 never came close to projections, and production was suspended in the spring of 2009, never to resume.
The first-generation XL-7, sold from 1998 through 2006, was a stretched version of the Suzuki Grand Vitara small sport-utility vehicle. Based on a rear-wheel-drive truck platform, the XL-7 added an optional third-row seat to appeal to larger families, and was the least expensive three-row utility vehicle on the market. The engine was a 185-hp 2.7-liter V-6, paired either to a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive was optional.
While Suzuki had been early to the small utility vehicle market, by the turn of the century, new car-based entries from major manufacturers--Ford, Honda, Subaru, Toyota--started to make big inroads into the growing market, pushing smaller players like Suzuki to the edge. Consumer preferred the more comfortable ride and car-like handling of the crossovers against the more truck-like feel of Suzuki's utility vehicles.