2012 Suzuki Kizashi Review

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 28, 2012

If you're looking for a sophisticated, well-equipped sporty sedan that's a lot of car for the money, you should definitely check out the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi.

The Suzuki Kizashi is one of the best compact sedans on the market. But as it is, many shoppers might not even think to put it on their list of prospective models. That's because Suzuki—and Suzuki dealerships—simply haven't made much of a name for themselves in the U.S. market. If you can see past that lack of brand cachet, the Kizashi shines as a premium, sport-flavored alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Jetta or Chevrolet Cruze. 

Even a couple of years after its debut, the Kizashi remains one of the better-looking sedans. It's more than a foot shorter than most mid-size sedans, but on the upper edge of what would be considered a compact, and the Kizashi strikes some great proportions, combining a rather traditional sedan profile with a dressed-up look and sportier stance. Inside, the Kizashi is feels a class above most other value-conscious four-cylinder compact or mid-size models, with a little bit of sports-car swoopiness in the two-tier instrument panel design, a large, hooded gauge cluster, and just a tiny touch of chrome to punctuate the look but not overwhelm. The sporty, upscale look and feel is enhanced by well-bolstered sport seats and quality coarse cloth or ventilated-leather upholstery.

A gutsy 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine moves the Kizashi plenty quick, and provides spirited performance either with the available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or standard six-speed manual. With the CVT, the Kizashi comes either with front-wheel drive or the new i-AWD system, which is configured for enhanced cornering and managed via the stability control system; but of the combinations, our favorite remains the front-wheel-drive Sport model with the manual gearbox. Overall, though the Kizashi feels athletic, and excellent suspension tuning, body control, and grip give it a nimble, tossable feel. Brakes employ Akebono performance calipers, and they feel strong but a little touchy.

Gas mileage for this powertrain is one weakness; EPA ratings aren't that impressive, though ranging from 20 to 23 mpg in the city and 29 to 31 mpg on the highway.

Review continues below
Those who think of some compact models as a little too small but don't want the sacrifice in maneuverability that comes with a mid-size car will appreciate the Kizashi's 'just-right' size. Suzuki hasn't accomplished any magic with interior space here, though; the Kizashi is more of a compact sedan than a mid-size one on the outside, and the same rings true inside. But nice, supportive bucket seats provide a great driving position and plenty of support for taller folks. The Kizashi doesn't have a lot of space In the back seat, but you'll definitely be able to accommodate a couple of adults back there for a drive out for lunch.

The Kizashi really shines in the details. Throughout the interior, materials feel a bit different than most other models in this class, with nicely grained plastics plus soft-touch and padded surfaces in most of the places you'd brush against. Ride quality is on the firm side, but you'll never feel rattled; it also damps out road noise surprisingly well considering that it favors sportiness over outright comfort.

Federal crash-test scores still haven't been given to the Kizashi, but the IIHS rates it 'good' in all but its roof-strength test ('acceptable' there). Eight airbags are standard, including rear side bags, which still aren't common in this class.

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi continues to put its best foot forward in terms of features for the money. Even when optioned with that, a loaded Kizashi SLS Sport still totals well under $30k. Suzuki typically offers few if any options on its U.S. vehicles, instead including a strong list of standard features, and the Kizashi takes that to a new level with all Kizashi's including keyless entry and dual-zone climate control. GTS Sport and SLS Sport step up to a lowered suspension that rides 10 mm lower (but not really any harsher) than the base setup; a bolder, lightweight wheel design; a trunk spoiler; body sill extensions; a more aggressive front fascia; and a bolder, 'aero' look. Sport models also get snug, leather-trimmed sport seats with contrast stitching, plus a number of other extras. A navigation system is available as a relatively low-cost option and includes a rear camera system, real-time traffic, and iPod controls.

8

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Styling

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is sporty looking, and more elegant and finely detailed than other models in its price range.

Even a couple of years after its debut, the Kizashi remains one of the better-looking compact sedans.

It's more than a foot shorter than most mid-size sedans, but on the upper edge of what would be considered a compact, and the Kizashi strikes some great proportions, combining a rather traditional sedan profile with a dressed-up look and sportier stance. Like nearly every other sedan today, it has character lines that follow from the grille and headlights, through the hood, to the beltline, and its smooth, uncreased flanks are contoured just enough to avoid being called slab-sided. Particularly from the back, the Kizashi looks serious and performance-oriented, especially in new Kizashi Sport trim, which brings a lowered suspension and especially flashy alloy wheels.

Inside, the Kizashi is feels a class above most other value-conscious four-cylinder compact or mid-size models, with a little bit of sports-car swoopiness in the two-tier instrument panel design, a large, hooded gauge cluster, and just a tiny touch of chrome to punctuate the look but not overwhelm. The sporty, upscale look and feel is enhanced by well-bolstered sport seats and quality coarse cloth or ventilated-leather upholstery.

Review continues below
8

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Performance

The 2012 Kizashi shows its strengths on a curvy road, although its powertrain performance is just ordinary.

Overall, the 2012 Kizashi feels athletic, and excellent suspension tuning, body control, and grip give it a nimble, tossable feel.

A gutsy 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine moves the Kizashi plenty quick, and provides spirited performance either with the available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or standard six-speed manual.

With the CVT, the Kizashi comes either with front-wheel drive or the new i-AWD system, which is configured for enhanced cornering and managed via the stability control system; but of the combinations, our favorite remains the front-wheel-drive Sport model with the manual gearbox. Choose the manual, and you get smooth, well-coordinated clutch takeup (even if the shift linkage is a little imprecise). The CVT is one of the better-tuned systems, with less drone during acceleration compared to other CVT models; plus you'll get steering-wheel paddle-shifters and six simulated ratios in all but base S models.

Brakes employ Akebono performance calipers, and they feel strong but a little touchy.

Review continues below
8

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Comfort & Quality

Interior space is about as you'd expect, but the 2012 Kizashi offers the refinement and materials of a more expensive sedan.

Those who think of some compact models as a little too small but don't want the sacrifice in maneuverability that comes with a mid-size car will appreciate the Kizashi's 'just-right' size. Its well-designed cabin, pleasing materials, and refined ride also add up to a little more passenger appeal than many other sedans this size--and with such an affordable price.

Suzuki hasn't accomplished any magic with interior space here, though; the Kizashi is more of a compact sedan than a mid-size one on the outside, and the same rings true inside. But nice, supportive bucket seats provide a great driving position and plenty of support for taller folks.

The Kizashi doesn't have a lot of space in the back seat, but you'll definitely be able to accommodate a couple of adults back there for a drive out for lunch. Also, then there's no middle passenger (we advise you limit it to two back there), there's a folding armrest with sturdy cupholder.

Where the Kizashi shows its compactness most, perhaps, is in trunk space. While its trunk is decently sized, the opening is narrowed than that of mid-size sedans. Seats are split 60/40 and fold forward, though not quite to a fully-flat position; however headrests tuck nicely away without needing to be removed.

Otherwise, the Kizashi really shines in the details. Throughout the interior, materials feel a bit different than most other models in this class, with nicely grained plastics plus soft-touch and padded surfaces in most of the places you'd brush against. Controls for audio and climate have a positive, high-quality feel with a textured grip; they wouldn't be out of place on a car costing twice as much. There's also some thoughtfulness in the smaller storage spaces: The USB input, for iPods or other media players, is located inside the large storage bin just ahead of the shifter, so you can close the lid and leave the electronics out of view.

Ride quality is on the firm side, but you'll never feel rattled; it also damps out road noise surprisingly well considering that it favors sportiness over outright comfort. And thanks to some excellent suspension and sound-insulation work, the Kizashi rides somewhat firmly, but quietly and comfortably enough to filter out minor bumps and road coarseness.

Review continues below
8

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Safety

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi offers standard rear side bags, and quite strong safety ratings.

Federal crash-test scores still haven't been given to the Kizashi, but reasonably strong IIHS crash-test scores and an especially strong list of standard safety features probably make the 2012 Kizashi one of the better picks among compact sedans.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the Kizashi has earned top 'good' ratings in all but its roof-strength test ('acceptable').

Eight airbags are standard, including rear side bags, which still aren't common in this class. And in Kizashi models with AWD, the stability control system enables stronger steering boost for quick countersteering, and it can momentarily send more power to the rear wheels and help counter a skid, whether or not AWD is currently engaged.

Review continues below
9

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Features

The Kizashi's price is always a little lower than you might think, given the long features list.

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi continues to put its best foot forward in terms of features for the money. The base price on a Kizashi S, including destination, is less than $20k, and even a loaded Kizashi SLS Sport still totals well under $30k.

Suzuki typically offers few if any options on its U.S. vehicles, instead including a strong list of standard features, and the Kizashi takes that to a new level with all Kizashi's including keyless entry and dual-zone climate control. The Kizashi remains offered in S, SE, GTS Sport, and SLS Sport models. The S includes a surprisingly high level of standard equipment like push-button start, sport seats, dual-zone climate control, and steering-wheel audio controls. Next up is the SE, which adds a power memory driver seat, cruise control, 17-inch alloys, and upgraded trim. A 425-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, fog lamps, a moonroof, and 18-inch wheels are all part of the GTS, while the top-of-the-line SLS includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, rain-sensor wipers, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, an auto-dimming mirror, and a garage-door opener.

Both the GTS Sport and SLS Sport step up to a lowered suspension that rides 10 mm lower (but not really any harsher) than the base setup; a bolder, lightweight wheel design; a trunk spoiler; body sill extensions; a more aggressive front fascia; and a bolder, 'aero' look. Sport models also get snug, leather-trimmed sport seats with contrast stitching (a different design with more side bolstering), plus a number of other extras.

A navigation system is available as a relatively low-cost option and includes a rear camera system, real-time traffic, and iPod controls.

Review continues below
7

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Fuel Economy

There are plenty of other reasons the Kizashi is a standout, but gas mileage isn't one of them.

There are plenty of great reasons to consider the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi, but fuel efficiency isn't one of them. The Kizashi's EPA fuel economy ratings range from 20 to 23 mpg in the city and 29 to 31 mpg on the highway. That's not very impressive, and short of those for a number of mid-size sedans.

It's all the more puzzling when you consider that the Kizashi's transmissions feature rather high gearing, and curb weights are lower than typical.

Yet, in real-world driving, we've seen some assurance that those EPA ratings might be a bit pessimistic. In a Kizashi with the six-speed manual, TheCarConnection.com observed 27 miles per gallon over more than 150 miles of varied driving, much of it quite spirited. And in a Kizashi with the CVT and all-wheel drive, we saw 23 mpg in mixed driving.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

1 Review
5 star
4 star
100%
3 star
2 star
1 star
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
October 3, 2017
2012 Suzuki Kizashi 4-Door Sedan CVT AWD GTS Sport

Great car never given a chance

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
It is unfortunate Suzuki left the country. The Kizashi is a well engineered automobile, I believe superior to many of the cars on the road If you can pick up a used one in good condition it wold be a good buy... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
USED PRICE RANGE
$5,898 - $12,873
Browse Used Listings
in your area
8.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 7
Compare the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Suzuki Kizashi?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used