In an effort to incorporate some of the sporty and exciting driving experience more typically associated with its motorcycles, Suzuki seems to have forgotten that fuel economy is one of the primary concerns among economy-car shoppers. The 2008 Suzuki SX4 does offer a surprisingly engaging ride, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com invariably mention the worse-than-expected fuel economy.
The 2008 Suzuki SX4 lineup comes with just one engine, which Car and Driver reports is a "2.0-liter inline-four" that "puts out 143 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque." Edmunds observes that "though it has a powerful engine compared to its subcompact competition, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is no hot rod," noting that "a bulky curb weight negates any advantage" from the 2.0-liter engine. ConsumerGuide recommends drivers of the Suzuki SX4 "plan ahead for freeway merging and passing on busy two-lane roads." However, Road and Track reviewers find that the Suzuki "SX4 Sport's 0-60-mph time of 10.2 seconds slots in between the 2.0-liter-powered Mazda3 (9.8 sec.) and the Sentra (10.5 sec.)." Some reviewers aren't impressed by the 2008 Suzuki SX4's engine, but Jalopnik feels that "in the lower gears there's a steady stream of manageable power," and "though you may not want to race for pinks at your local drag strip, there's enough oomph left to keep you entertained in all but the longest straights." The key to understanding the 2008 Suzuki SX4's acceleration is perspective—while you won't outrun any sport sedans, the Suzuki SX4 stacks up well against other vehicles in its class.
Autoblog reports that the Suzuki SX4 is "available with either an automatic or a five-speed manual transmission," and both transmissions score decently well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide says the "SX4 is acceptably quick with manual transmission—given frequent shifting," though it is "a bit slower with the automatic, which kicks down quickly for more power." According to MyRide.com, the Suzuki SX4 "could do with a sixth gear as we found ourselves wanting to up shift several times as we drove on straight highways and freeways. Around the twisty bits, however, just shifting through the gate between second, third and fourth gear was fine." Cars.com reviewers appreciate the "comparatively light, easy-engaging clutch that makes launching the car second-nature" with the manual, and they feel that "the automatic's shifts are succinct and remain composed when accelerating hard."
The 2008 Suzuki SX4 Crossover comes only with all-wheel drive. According to MyRide.com reviewers, the "all-wheel-drive system, called i-AWD, operates in three modes via a console-mounted switch." They also mention that these modes include a "2WD mode" that offers "maximum fuel economy on dry pavement" and an "AWD Auto mode [that] controls the drive power distribution ratio to the rear wheels from zero to 50 percent."
Despite the SX4's small dimensions, which are normally associated with good fuel economy, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2008 Suzuki SX4 lags behind the class in this category. According to official EPA estimates, the front-wheel drive should return 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the automatic, and 22/30 mpg when equipped with the manual. The larger Suzuki SX4 Crossover gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway with either transmission. After seeing the official EPA numbers, Edmunds is disappointed to find that "those numbers are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of subcompact sedans and hatchbacks."
In terms of everyday driving performance, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is a capable commuter. Edmunds says “the standard antilock disc brakes don't seem to mind the extra heft." Kelley Blue Book loves that the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is "easy to maneuver, even in tight confines," thanks in part to its "fairly quick and precise" steering feel.