Suzuki's Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD) system is standard on the Crossover, whereas the SportBack, the entry Sedan, and the fancier Sport sedan make do with simpler front-wheel drive. Both versions come standard with a 150-horsepower version of Suzuki's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine (it gained 7 hp for 2010), along with one of two new transmissions: a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 2010 Suzuki SX4 comes across as smooth and zippy in regular, relaxed driving, with enough torque from the engine to feel responsive with either transmission. The manual gearbox seems especially sporty, and paddle shifters that simulate fixed ratios in the CVT give the driver a feeling of control that meshes well with the SX4's sporty sensation.
The 2010 SX4 Crossover doesn't take especially well to truly enthusiastic driving, when its engine booms and the body rolls in turns. Front-wheel-drive models are better on that account. But its weakest point remains fuel economy, which has improved slightly due to the new transmissions but still trails the majority of competitors. The most economical model of the 2010 SX4, the base Sedan equipped with the CVT, now manages 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 28 mpg. Not surprisingly, the all-wheel-drive SX4 Crossover is the least fuel-efficient model, just managing 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway with the six-speed manual, or 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway with the CVT. Those are numbers more likely to be seen on a mid-size sedan than a small compact hatchback, all-wheel drive or not.
The 2010 Suzuki SX4 stacks up well against other vehicles in its class, though the handling exceeds its sheer performance. ConsumerGuide recommends drivers of the Suzuki SX4 "plan ahead for freeway merging and passing on busy two-lane roads." The 2010 SX4 lineup comes with a single engine, boosted this year to 150 horsepower. Some reviewers aren't impressed by the Suzuki SX4's engine, but Jalopnik feels that "in the lower gears there's a steady stream of manageable power," adding, "though you may not want to race for pinks at your local drag strip, there's enough oomph left to keep you entertained." Its "bulky curb weight negates any advantage" from the 2.0-liter engine, says Edmunds, which also observes that while "it has a powerful engine compared to its subcompact competition," the SX4 Suzuki "is no hot rod."
Reviews from previous years often commented on the need for a sixth gear, which Suzuki has provided for 2010. Motor Trend says, "The six-speed's throws proved crisp and easily findable." ConsumerGuide note the "SX4 is acceptably quick with manual transmission-given frequent shifting." Cars.com reviewers appreciate the "comparatively light, easy-engaging clutch that makes launching the car second-nature" with the manual. Motor Trend also compliments the CVT, new in the 2010 SX4 Suzuki: "The transmission is as smooth as they come."
Suzuki's all-wheel-drive system, dubbed i-AWD, "operates in three modes via a console-mounted switch," say the reviewers at MyRide.com. They also mention that these modes include a front-wheel-drive mode that provides "maximum fuel economy on dry pavement" along with an all-wheel-drive function that "controls the drive power distribution ratio to the rear wheels from zero to 50 percent."
Despite the SX4's small size, which would make buyers expect good gas mileage, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2010 Suzuki SX4 lags its competitors here. The base CVT-equipped Sedan is the most economical model; the EPA rates it at 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, for a combined 28 mpg rating. Not surprisingly, the SX4 Crossover with all-wheel drive is the least fuel-efficient model, managing only 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway with the CVT, or 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway when fitted with the six-speed manual. Edmunds calls those ratings "at the bottom of the barrel in terms of subcompact sedans and hatchbacks."
The handling of the 2010 Suzuki SX4 wins praise. "Turn-in was quick and predictable" in track testing, comments Motor Trend, "and all-out straightaway speed was impressive." Kelley Blue Book loves that the SX4 is "easy to maneuver, even in tight confines," thanks in part to its "fairly quick and precise" steering feel.