- Very smooth ride
- Quiet, refined cabin
- Strong acceleration
- Third row is very difficult to access
- Only adequate handling
The 2008 Suzuki XL7 should be especially appealing to families who want a roomy vehicle with a small third-row seat for occasional use but don’t want to pay the higher sticker price or extra fuel expenses of larger SUVs.
A major redesign for this once-basic (and even primitive) SUV in 2007 transformed it into a sleek-looking, fully modern mid-sized crossover with available seven-passenger seating.
The 2008 Suzuki XL7 is closely related to the Saturn Vue, Chevrolet Equinox, and Pontiac Torrent but is arguably the best equipped of them all. In addition to the handsome new exterior, the XL7 boasts a standard 3.6-liter, 252-horsepower V-6 engine teamed up with a new five-speed automatic with manual shift capability. Front-wheel drive is standard, though the available all-wheel drive system is good for slippery road situations, sending up to 50 percent of power to the back wheels when the fronts slip.
With either drive system, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 has brisk acceleration, compared to other crossover SUVs, with quiet cruising along with quick downshifts for passing power. Suzuki claims the XL7 can accelerate from 0-60 in less than eight seconds—a big improvement over the previous model. The XL7 rides and handles much like a mid-size sedan, with a relatively soft, smooth ride and handling that’s safe but not at all sporty. The carlike four-wheel independent suspension uses MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear. Seven-passenger models get a load-leveling Nivomat rear suspension that’s useful for those who plan to tow or haul heavy loads; tow capacity rates up to 3500 pounds.
Five- and seven-passenger versions of the 2008 Suzuki XL7 are offered. Seven-passenger models add a 50/50-split folding third-row bench large enough for only small children. Entry and exit is quite difficult, but the third row can be folded flat into the floor when it’s not in use. The second row also folds forward, and the front passenger seat’s backrest can be folded forward flat for accommodating very long items.
The 2008 Suzuki XL7 is available in base, Premium, Luxury, and Limited trim levels, with standard seven-passenger seating on the Limited. All-wheel drive is optional on all models. All models include automatic climate control, keyless entry, roof rails, and alloy wheels, while at the top of the range the Limited brings many more features including power heated front seats, touch-screen navigation system, a rearview camera, fog lamps, chrome wheels, fog lamps, and a premium sound system.
Standard safety features on the 2008 Suzuki XL7 include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side-curtain rollover-sensing bags. Crash test results have been very good, with top five-star results in all of the federal government’s tests, along with ‘Good’ and ‘Acceptable’ results for frontal and side impact, respectively, from the IIHS. Rear impact protection was rated ‘Marginal,’ however.