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The Suzuki Kizashi is in some respects a better-than-average compact sedan. Yet you don't see it on U.S. streets nearly as much as you should—due mainly because Suzuki, and Suzuki dealerships, simply haven't made much of a name for themselves here. But i value for the money takes precedence over brand cachet, the Kizashi stands as a premium, sport-flavored alternative to the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze or Volkswagen Jetta. And it's well worth putting on your shopping list.
While we wouldn't call the design or styling of the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi particularly fresh, it's handsome and nicely detailed--albeit a little conservative on the outside. At about 183 inches long, the Kizashi is more than a foot shorter than most mid-size sedans, yet it remains on the upper edge of what might be considered a compact. Compared to most other value-conscious four-cylinder compact or mid-size sedans, the Kizashi stands out for incorporating a little more sports-car swoopiness and excitement into the instrument panel and interior trim.
There's a lot to love about the way the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi performs--and it's much more about the way the Kizashi steers, handles, and responds than its outright speed or quickness. It feels athletic, and excellent suspension tuning, body control, and grip give it a nimble, tossable feel. Strong brakes--in the form of Akebono performance calipers--also tend to feel far stronger than what's usually provided in an inexpensive car. The 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is no standout on its own; it's gutsy, though, and it moves the Kizashi plenty quick, providing spirited performance either with the available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or standard six-speed manual.
'Just right' is probably what many Americans will think when they size the Kizashi up. It's about right for young families, empty nesters, or just urban commuters who want a reasonably roomy vehicle that's also not a burden to park. Factor in the well-designed cabin, pleasing materials, and refined ride, and it's a compelling package with a lot of passenger appeal. The back seat is definitely kid-friendly, but if you have taller drivers in front, it's only going to work for a couple of adults for a short distance. Trunk space is tight, but the rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and can easily be flipped forward. There are some clever smaller storage spaces, and materials and finishes are top-notch for the price. The Kizashi rides in a measured, upscale, and sporty way, yet manages to tune out road noise and harshness.
The base-level version of the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi, at less than $20,000 including destination, is quite a value, as it includes features like keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, sport seats, and steering-wheel audio controls--all things that aren't usually found in the least-expensive model, let alone as standard equipment.
The Kizashi remains offered in S, SE, GTS Sport, and SLS Sport models, and from the S you move up to an equipment set that, read from a list, looks like it should belong to something with a luxury badge. At the top of the line, the SLS includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, rain-sensor wipers, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, an auto-dimming mirror, and a garage-door opener. And if you opt for either the GTS Sport or the SLS Sport, you get a lowered suspension that rides 10 mm lower (but not really any harsher) than the base setup--in addition to a bolder look.
For 2013, the optional navigation system is now part of a fully embedded infotainment unit that includes a backup camera, real-time traffic, Bluetooth streaming audio, and integrated voice commands.