Week-Long Road Test: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS is the Perfect Daily Commute Companion

March 2, 2010
While many people still don’t know what one is or what it even looks like, the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is a hugely impressive feat of engineering from one of the smallest Japanese automakers in this country. But after driving the Kizashi for a week it is easy to see that this could all change very quickly at the expense of big dogs like Toyota and Mazda.

The Kizashi is Suzuki’s first clean sheet mid-size sedan design ever and thanks to their vast experience making small cars and motorcycles the interior is brilliantly packaged for spacious comfort. While the outside of the vehicle is about the length of a VW Jetta it feels far roomier inside. Rear seat legroom is ample and the trunk is deep and square measuring 13.3 cubic feet.

The test vehicle was a GTS model which is the somewhat sporting variant with standard six-speed manual, power moonroof, power seats, 525 watt Rockford Fosgate Audio, integrated Bluetooth, 18-inch alloy wheels and dual zone climate control. There is also an ultra-luxurious SLS that adds rain sensing wipers, leather and a backup sensor for $24,399. Of all the Kizashi models it is definitely the GTS that makes the most financial sense as some of the bells and whistles on the SLS are kind of unnecessary in a mainstream family car. Navigation, all-wheel drive and a CVT automatic are optional.

With an MSRP of only $22, 420 the GTS really is a bargain when you also take into consideration the fact that it comes with a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that is fully transferrable to the subsequent owners. Hyundai and Kia don’t offer that. That may not seem important now but it is a smart move on Suzuki’s part as it will help bolster the resale value of the Kizashi years from now.

The 2.4 liter 185 horsepower/170 lb-feet of torque 4-cylinder in the six-speed manual GTS is a smooth and surprisingly gutsy engine that really thrives on high revs. The engine is also hushed at cruising speeds making the Kizashi GTS a wonderful choice for anyone with a long commute. Very few vehicles are able to maintain this duality of purpose in which they can be called upon to either be a calm and relaxing cruiser or a serious sports sedan. Suzuki should be applauded for getting this mix so right the first time out.

The six-speed manual has longish throws but it is easy to use, precise and the clutch is also light as to not be a burden in traffic scenarios. During its test week the Kizashi averaged an impressive 29 miles per gallon in real world driving. The EPA estimates 23 city/31 highway so getting such great fuel economy is just the cherry on top of a well designed package.

While styling is always a purely speculative area to review, a person would be hard pressed to find an unpleasing visual aspect of the Kizashi’s exterior design. It truly is rare nowadays to see a new car with lines with such an uninterrupted and cohesive flow. Interior build quality and materials use is another high point for this Suzuki especially considering the low base price ($18,999). Sister website Car Connection gave the Kizashi an overall test score of 8.2 out of 10 which is hugely impressive for a ground-up engineering effort from such a small automaker.

Now, you might buy the Suzuki Kizashi because it’s a value, because it’s fun to drive or because you like the way it looks. And no matter what your pre-conceptions about the Suzuki brand are from its past success with 4-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles it is clear that the 2010 Kizashi GTS has earned a place on your new family sedan shopping list.

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