The Car Connection Suzuki Forenza Overview
The Suzuki Forenza was a compact four-door sedan and wagon sold in the United States from 2004 through 2008 by the Japanese carmaker in an ambitious drive to expand its sales. The effort largely failed, and while the Forenza was nominally replaced in 2010 by the slightly larger and much sportier Kizashi sedan, Suzuki announced in November 2012 that it would withdraw from the U.S. car market altogether.
The Forenza was actually a car that had previously been sold in the U.S. as the Daewoo Nubira, before that Korean maker stopped selling cars in 2002 after an abortive attempt to enter the U.S. market. The lines were simple and clean, as was the interior, but by 2008, the design was dated and the mismatched plastics of the interior were considerably below the best in class.
Built in South Korea, the Forenza was sold in the U.S. with a 127-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers called the performance marginal, as well as noisy, and fuel efficiency was only mediocre, ranging from 22 to 23 mpg combined depending on body style and transmission.
When new, the Forenza had a relatively firm ride, but its roadholding didn't get particularly good reviews either. The Forenza's real advantage was the high level of equipment for the price. Standard features even on the base Forenza included air conditioning; power windows, locks, and heated mirrors; and a stereo with built-in CD player. The Forenza Premium version added cruise control, keyless entry, fog lamps, and anti-lock brakes (in those years, still a $500 option), along with an optional power moonroof.
The Forenza didn't change notably over its five years on the market, with minor equipment updates here and there. The 2008 model, for instance, added chrome door handles, along with a $400 Convenience option package that bundled fog lamps and steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio system. Bluetooth was optional only on the 2008 Forenza.
Safety ratings for the Suzuki Forenza weren't stellar. It received four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under a set of standards that has now been replaced by more stringent tests. But the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the only ‘Acceptable’ in frontal impact and ‘Poor’ both in side and rear impact protection. Anti-lock brakes remained optional and electronic stability control was not available.
The Suzuki Forenza has the minor distinction of being one of the last compact wagons sold in the U.S. It was survived only by the Hyundai Elantra Touring (itself killed after the 2012 model year) and the current Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen.