2008 Suzuki Reno Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 5, 2008

The 2008 Suzuki Reno still looks good against rivals, has a roomy interior, and offers a lot of features for the money, but its aged design counts against it in nearly all other areas.

The experienced automotive advisors at TheCarConnection.com have assembled this comprehensive review of the 2008 Suzuki Reno, based on some of the best review sources on the Web. TheCarConnection.com's editors also added their own insights to make the review especially useful.

The Reno is a small, inexpensive hatchback model built by GM Daewoo in South Korea. The 2008 Suzuki Reno is basically a carryover with only minor changes.

The Reno's shape was originally styled by the design house Pininfarina, and it still stands as nicely proportioned next to its peers. The interior follows a clean, simple design, but it uses a hodgepodge of unmatched surfaces and hard plastics. Seating is roomy and comfortable in the 2008 Suzuki Reno, though. In front, the seats are among the better ones in this especially low-priced car class, and in back, legroom is just adequate for average adults.

The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the 2008 Suzuki Reno produces 127 horsepower and comes with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, but with either transmission, it's merely adequate and noisy under moderate or hard acceleration. And whichever way, fuel economy is embarrassingly poor for a relatively light, 2,700-pound small car, at 19 mpg city with the automatic.

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The 2008 Suzuki Reno rides on MacPherson struts up front and a dual-link suspension in the rear, with variable-assist power steering and four-wheel disc brakes. Those goods usually deliver solid handling, but the tuning is such that the Reno has a firm, pitchy ride combined with heavy, unremarkable handling.

Features are a strong point; the 2008 Suzuki Reno is a very good value, at least in terms of features for the money. Air conditioning; a CD stereo; and power locks, windows, and heated mirrors are standard on the base Reno. Changes for 2008 are limited to new chrome door handles, as well as standard fog lamps and steering wheel audio controls on the Convenience package. Bluetooth is a new option.

The 2008 Suzuki Reno received straight four-star ratings in the federal government's crash tests for frontal and side impact, but the more demanding tests conducted by the insurance-affiliated IIHS found the Reno simply "acceptable" in frontal impact and "poor" in rear impact protection. The Forenza sedan, which has a similar structure, came up "poor" in side impact as well. Front and front-side airbags are standard across the line. Neither anti-lock brakes nor stability control are offered on the Reno.

The warranty remains a major selling point for the 2008 Suzuki Reno. Suzuki offers one of the best from any manufacturer, with fully transferable coverage up to seven years or 100,000 miles.


2008 Suzuki Reno


The Euro-influenced exterior of the 2008 Suzuki Reno is a few grades above its forgettable interior.

Though it’s pleasantly rounded on the outside, the 2008 Suzuki Reno’s interior styling leaves reviewers unmoved.

The Reno—in its last year on sale, as there’s no 2009 model planned—benefits from some Euro styling cues, notes Car and Driver: "the five-door hatchback design is by Italdesign-Giugiaro and is not off-putting...[it's] a mean-looking little brawler." Cars.com praises the Reno's "gracefully rising style lines and athletically refined side profile." Kelley Blue Book says this Suzuki 2008's "aggressively styled bodywork...still looks clean and contemporary as it enters its fifth season."

Inside, the 2008 Suzuki Reno's styling is somewhat blander, however. According to Cars.com, buyers are limited to a "two-tone interior"; in an attempt to put a positive spin on it, Kelley Blue Book reports that "charcoal and silver define the primary color palette...tastefully intermixing on the dash, door panels and seats." Edmunds says that "in an effort to spice things up a bit inside, Reno designers installed an attractive set of gauges surrounded by metallic accents which extend to the rest of the dash and console areas," but acknowledges that the Suzuki 2008 interior has "too much cheap gray plastic everywhere else."

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2008 Suzuki Reno


The 2008 Suzuki Reno has subpar performance even when compared to the most basic econoboxes.

Auto experts at TheCarConnection.com find the 2008 Suzuki Reno lacking in performance.

Cars.com reports that the Suzuki Reno "2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 127 horsepower and 127 pounds-feet of torque." According to ConsumerGuide, this Suzuki 2008 engine provides "adequate acceleration, but passing power is lacking." Kelley Blue Book contends that it has "sufficient muscle to keep pace with normal traffic but does limit responsiveness with respect to aggressive passing maneuvers." According to Edmunds, however, when "paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission, it performs decently."

In addition to the manual, a "four speed automatic can be installed," according to Cars.com. Edmunds reports that the Suzuki 2008 "four-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but its lackluster response dulls performance"; however, "equipped with the manual gearbox, the [Suzuki] Reno has little difficulty merging or keeping up in traffic." Edmunds adds "when equipped with the automatic transmission, Suzuki's least-expensive car suffers the double humility of mediocre performance along with so-so fuel efficiency."

Cars.com confirms this: The Suzuki Reno is "not outstanding for small, 4-cylinder cars," although the "manual-transmission Reno Convenience averaged 23.4 mpg during its 10,094-mile extended-use test." According to Edmunds, "Reno posts mileage numbers that are among the lowest of cars in its price range...Manual Renos rate 20 mpg city and 28 highway, while the automatic rates 19/28, respectively."

Handling is atypically soft for an economy car, thanks to what Car and Driver considers "huge suspension travel, and a 'pillowy ride.'" ConsumerGuide adds that the 2008 Suzuki Reno has "quick, responsive steering, but there's noticeable body lean even at modest cornering speeds." Cars.com reports that "Reno zips around corners with zest...ride is surprisingly pleasant even on lumpy city streets." However, "brakes have a spongy feel, and the gearshift is a bit rubbery." Edmunds points out that "compared with other budget-priced hatchbacks, the 2008 Suzuki Reno also comes up lacking in ride quality, as its soft suspension allows too much movement over bumps and ruts."

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2008 Suzuki Reno

Comfort & Quality

Don't expect limousine luxury from the 2008 Suzuki Reno, but fit and finish are good.

According to the reviews examined at TheCarConnection.com, the 2008 Suzuki Reno offers average levels of comfort combined with a decently finished cabin.

Cars.com reports that the "five-occupant Reno has more front and rear legroom than the Mazda3 or Matrix;" ConsumerGuide discovers "plenty of headroom and legroom, even for taller folks" up in front; in the rear, "headroom, legroom, and foot space are adequate for adults as long as the front seats aren't set far back." Edmunds says "drivers looking to get more comfortable will appreciate the Reno's highly adjustable driver seat," and notes that backseat passengers are "treated to a fold-down center armrest."

ConsumerGuide observes that the Suzuki Reno "has a usefully large cargo hold and a generous liftgate opening." Edmunds states that "cargo capacity is less than 9 cubic feet with the rear seat up, but thanks to the hatchback architecture, opens up to a much more accommodating 45 cubic feet with the seat folded" and adds that "folks with lots of stuff will enjoy a multitude of storage compartments."

According to Cars.com, these Suzuki 2008 gauges are "simple but adequate," but "the radio controls are hard to decipher." ConsumerGuide says that "switchgear has a quality feel," but notes that "use of quality plastics and solid assembly quality belie Reno's low price." Nonetheless, Kelley Blue Book attests that "despite an abundance of hard plastic trim, the overall fits are good, the [Suzuki 2008] gauges legible and key controls logically placed and finger-friendly."

Most noise issues with the 2008 Suzuki Reno are related to the engine, which, according to ConsumerGuide, "roars intrusively during acceleration and turns buzzy at higher speeds," along with "some suspension pounding over bumps and substantial wind rush at freeway speeds."

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2008 Suzuki Reno


The 2008 Suzuki Reno is hopelessly outdated in terms of safety features.

From everything read by the auto experts at TheCarConnection.com, the 2008 Suzuki Reno is not outstanding in terms of safety.

The Suzuki Reno received four of five stars in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests. Frontal-offset crash tests on this Suzuki 2008 model performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) were "acceptable," the second-highest rating under this organization's criteria.

According to Edmunds, "front side-impact airbags and four-wheel disc brakes are standard" for the Suzuki Reno. However, Cars.com advises "all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are optional with the Convenience Package." Side and curtain airbags are unavailable.

ConsumerGuide says that 2008 Suzuki Reno "visibility is better than average, though some testers say rear headrests interfere with the over-the-shoulder view."

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2008 Suzuki Reno


The 2008 Suzuki Reno comes with a fair amount of standard equipment, but options are lacking.

Expert reviews seen at TheCarConnection.com indicate that the 2008 Suzuki Reno offers more than the expected amount of standard features.

Kelley Blue Book says this Suzuki 2008 vehicle offers "lots of standard features." Edmunds reports that the Suzuki Reno "boasts a generous standard features list...Standard Reno features include heated side mirrors, air-conditioning (with cabin air filtration), tilt steering wheel, full power accessories and a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system." According to Cars.com, standard 2008 Suzuki Reno equipment includes "a rear-window defroster, and power windows, locks and heated mirrors" as well.

This Suzuki 2008 vehicle offers its options in "packages"; according to Cars.com, the Suzuki Reno Convenience Package "adds steering-wheel controls, cruise control, remote keyless entry and an alarm system." Edmunds remarks that this Suzuki Reno also offers "a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, cruise control and security alarm."

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