2008 Suzuki XL7 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 20, 2008

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.

TheCarConnection.com’s automotive experts have looked to some of the Web’s most respected automotive sources in compiling this review of the 2008 Suzuki XL7; then the editors at TheCarConnection.com, who have driven the XL7 on several different occasions, have incorporated their own experiences with the vehicle.

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.

Review continues below

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.

7

2008 Suzuki XL7

Styling

The 2008 Suzuki XL7 looks have improved outside, but not everyone will like the interior.

A major redesign for the Suzuki XL7 transformed it into a sleek-looking, fully modern mid-sized crossover with available seven-passenger seating. In 2008, there are few styling changes, and most reviewers agree its appearance is attractive.

Kelley Blue Book says "with a styling combination of SUV and station wagon, the sleek 2008 Suzuki XL7 has a balanced exterior with triangular headlamps among its most noticeable features." Autoblog opines that the exterior design of the XL7 is "striving toward distinctive, recognizable styling." Offering their usual pithy and off-the-cuff observations, reviewers at Mother Proof simply note that the Suzuki XL7 "looks great...the sporty front grille promises a fun ride, while the sleek lines of the body hint at luxuries within."

The interior is another story. While the Suzuki XL7 has "plenty of interior lights" according to The Auto Channel, other reviewers are less impressed with the overall Suzuki 2008 decor. Car and Driver reports that the Suzuki XL7 interior "is available with faux wood or satin nickel trim"; to the reviewer at Autoblog, "the plastic that comprises the lower portion of the dashboard and the door panels looks like a remnant from some 1970s house of funk, and overall there are more textures and finishes in the interior than there should be."

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2008 Suzuki XL7

Performance

The 2008 Suzuki XL7 has plenty of power for its class, though its handling won’t suit hotfoots.

According to the reviews consulted by TheCarConnection.com, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 is above average in terms of overall performance.

Cars.com reports that the Suzuki XL7's engine is a "252-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 designed by GM and built by Suzuki...towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds." According to ConsumerGuide, the Suzuki XL7 "has ample power from any speed, with little difference between 2WD and AWD versions." Autoblog remarks that "acceleration is plenty quick...[it] managed to sprint one through the quarter mile in 16 seconds flat, and they found 60 mph in 7.7 seconds."

Cars.com points out that the engine in the 2008 Suzuki XL7 "teams with a five-speed automatic transmission with a clutchless manual mode," which Autoblog says is "geared tall for fuel economy" and offers "serenity at speed." ConsumerGuide praises this transmission: "ultra-smooth automatic transmission kicks down promptly for swift passing, and it always seems to be in the right gear. Its manual shift gate is helpful in mountain driving."

ConsumerGuide also reports that in their tests, this Suzuki 2008 vehicle "averaged 16.6 mpg," and "uses regular-grade gas." FuelEconomy.gov cites official federal ratings of 15 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway in the all-wheel-drive version, and 16/22 mpg in the front-wheel-drive models.

There are few Suzuki XL7 handling issues to speak of; according to Kelley Blue Book, "steering is responsive, even on unpaved roads...[on a] severe washboard road there was, naturally, some shake and vibration but the XL7 Limited we tested ran straight and sure." On the other hand, ConsumerGuide notes "comfort-biased suspension means marked body lean that demands slow speeds when entering corners...steering has a numb, artificial feel, [and] a wide turning circle complicates close-quarters maneuvering." Autoblog acknowledges that "there's no mistaking this vehicle for a sports car," but contends "handling is competent without excessive roll, dive, or squat, and it clings well to the tarmac...steering is weighted nearly perfectly, if devoid of feedback, and the XL7 drives with solid composure." Edmunds also reports that "soft suspension settings result in cornering performance that's hardly sport."

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2008 Suzuki XL7

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Suzuki XL7’s seating and storage/cargo space make up for its iffy materials and noise levels.

In the opinion of TheCarConnection.com and other top review sites, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 offers good levels of comfort, but some reviewers niggle over its interior materials.

Cars.com reports the Suzuki XL7 "can be equipped with five seats in two rows or seven seats in three rows." ConsumerGuide notes the XL7 offers "supportive, high set seats" that "give plenty of headroom and legroom." However, "the steering wheel tilts but is not telescopic, which may hinder drivers from finding an ideal position." Edmunds observes "when it comes to head- and legroom, the XL7 is very roomy," but adds that "shoulder room...is narrower than that of most other midsize crossovers."

Storage and carrying space are more than adequate, according to Edmunds: "60/40-split-folding middle-row seats tumble and fold, and the optional 50/50-split third-row seat can be folded flat into the floor for additional cargo-carrying room," offering "an impressive maximum cargo capacity of 95.2 cubic feet." ConsumerGuide notes "only grocery-bag space behind the 50/50 3rd-row seat, but that folds flat without removing the headrests." Autoblog offers an elegantly simple solution: "leave the seat at the dealer and there's a swell amount of cargo space"

ConsumerGuide gives the Suzuki interior materials a solid grade of "C," reporting that "cabin materials and finish are just OK...slightly odd texturing on the lower dash and door panels gives the cabin a budget-grade feel." Autoblog adds that "materials in the cabin of the [Suzuki] XL7 unfortunately don't do the build quality justice...cheap pieces assembled well are still cheap pieces at the end of the day."

Though the ride is soft and compliant, noise levels prevent the 2008 Suzuki XL7 from receiving the highest scores in this category; according to ConsumerGuide, "the XL7's V6 is coarse during acceleration and never quiets completely...wind and road noise are well above the class norms."

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2008 Suzuki XL7

Safety

With good but not stellar crash-test ratings, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 ranks in the middle of its class.

The 2008 Suzuki XL7 has adequate scores in crash tests; it earned five stars in all crash tests performed at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) except for rollover, in which it earned four. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the XL7 top ratings in its frontal offset test and the second-highest 'Acceptable' rating in side-impact crash testing--otherwise respectable, but in a class populated by many vehicles getting straight 'Good' ratings.

Cars.com reports that the Suzuki XL7 "comes with side curtain airbags [and] a tire pressure monitoring system." According to Edmunds, additional Suzuki XL7 standard safety equipment includes "antilock brakes, stability control and traction control."

The lack of outward visibility is another potential safety issue. ConsumerGuide reports that this Suzuki 2008 vehicle's "rear roofline and small back window impede vision astern and to the right rear." However, Edmunds says that some Suzuki XL7 models "can be equipped with a parking camera displayed in the rearview mirror."

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2008 Suzuki XL7

Features

A couple of omissions in features keep the 2008 Suzuki XL7 wide open to improvement.

Though few reviews seen at TheCarConnection.com spoke at length on the topic, the 2008 Suzuki XL7 offers many standard features and options, with a few disappointments.

Edmunds reports a "lengthy standard equipment list...available in four trim levels: base, Premium, Luxury and Limited." According to the Edmunds reviewer, the base trim "comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, auto on/off headlamps, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, automatic climate control, trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack," confirming the statement from Autoblog that this vehicle is "a well-equipped mid-size crossover at the sporty end of the spectrum."

Edmunds observes the "premium trim is similar, but adds 17-inch wheels, floor mats and available faux wood trim," adding "the Luxury trim comes standard with leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof and an in-dash six-CD changer."

Cars.com states that options "include a moonroof, a navigation system and a DVD entertainment system," but "unfortunately, buyers can pick only the nav or the entertainment system; they can't have both." Other high-tech features such as Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are unavailable.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 7.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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