2008 Suzuki SX4 Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 31, 2008

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport brings all-wheel drive to the subcompact class, along with great visibility and an engaging driving experience.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the new Suzuki SX4 Sport to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The SX4 Sport is a small sedan aimed at a narrow window between the least expensive new cars on the U.S. market, and some of the finest-handling economy cars sold here.

The SX4 Sport starts winning friends with its 2.0-liter four, which spins out 143 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque in a happy, smooth patter. The sweet-shifting five-speed manual that comes with many Sports suits the engine ideally, with well-spaced ratios, a short throw, and a grippy shift knob. It's no fuel-economy champion, though it's pretty good at sipping rather than quaffing the stuff. The government rates the SX4 Sport at 21/28 mpg with the manual transmission.

In handling and chassis feel, Suzuki's done small wonders with the Sport's MacPherson strut and torsion-beam suspension. It's a point-and-shoot affair with its light, direct steering and fairly nimble ride. Even with 17-inch wheels, which would have seemed titanic on a car this size 10 years ago, the Suzuki SX4 Sport hums over secondary roads.

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Part of the reason the Sport feels so light-footed is a sort of visual psychology. The front doors' windows are cut lower than those of any vehicle in recent memory, and because you see more of the road moving alongside the car, the impression of speed and quick response is greater. There's ample knee room for drivers and front passengers, too, something rarer these days in subcompacts. But for a four-door, the Sport's interior package is pretty much all about the driver. Big guys can set the front seats to their liking, but that won't leave a lot of room in the backseat.

It's far from beautiful, but the 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport is at least neatly detailed. The dash is attentively styled. The Sport's gauges are sharp, and there's a high-quality look and feel to the radio faceplate and dash textures that's very appealing.

Other features well appreciated are the standard CD stereo with MP3 capability; available iPod integration and in-dash CD changer; and Bluetooth. Other option packages include cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with those marvy radio controls, fog lamps, and stability control. The automatic transmission is a $1,100 option. All cars come standard with a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Six airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes and daytime running lights. NHTSA rates the SX4 Sport at four stars for most crash and rollover tests, save for five-star driver-side impact protection.


2008 Suzuki SX4


Suzuki's designers have clearly focused their attention where 2008 Suzuki SX4 owners will spend the majority of their time: the car's interior.

Automotive styling is a very particular business, and sometimes this means that design elements don't transfer well when one vehicle (in this case, the Suzuki SX4) has two different body styles. Such is the case with the 2008 Suzuki SX4, which looks pretty good as a hatchback but a bit awkward in sedan form.

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 is "a compact car available in four-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles," according to reviewers at Edmunds. Edmunds also mentions that "both body styles come in base, Convenience and Touring trim levels." The hatchback is known as the Suzuki SX4 Crossover, while the sedan version gets a "Sport" moniker in place of Crossover. Reactions to the exterior styling is mixed in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as most reviewers love what MyRide.com calls the "cute mini-SUV" styling of the Crossover. Kelley Blue Book reviewers report that the Suzuki SX4 hatchback is a "product of the world-renowned Italdesign styling studio" and the "mildly wedge-shaped bodywork matches form with function." Cars.com says the "SX4 Crossover is less distinctive but more athletic looking" than its predecessor, the "quirky-looking Aerio SX four-door hatchback [that] never caught on in the U.S."

The interior fares much better across the board with reviewers, who consider it thoughtfully laid out and devoid of any major flaws. Edmunds observes that the "Suzuki SX4's cabin has a clean design" overall, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com back up that claim. Kelley Blue Book notes that the "nicely finished and feature-rich cabin" sports a "black and silver color scheme with brushed aluminum accents, clearly legible instruments and well-positioned switchgear [that] highlight its suitably sporting look." MyRide.com also loves that "everything is well placed" and there are "three easy-to-use climate control knobs" located on the center panel. Even the reserved reviewers at ConsumerGuide find the interior of the 2008 Suzuki SX4 boasts "an orthodox dashboard design [that] holds large, legible gauges and simple, handy minor controls."

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2008 Suzuki SX4


The 2008 Suzuki SX4's extra weight requires extra power, which results in an extra-thirsty small car.

In an effort to incorporate some of the sporty and exciting driving experience more typically associated with its motorcycles, Suzuki seems to have forgotten that fuel economy is one of the primary concerns among economy-car shoppers. The 2008 Suzuki SX4 does offer a surprisingly engaging ride, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com invariably mention the worse-than-expected fuel economy.

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 lineup comes with just one engine, which Car and Driver reports is a "2.0-liter inline-four" that "puts out 143 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque." Edmunds observes that "though it has a powerful engine compared to its subcompact competition, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is no hot rod," noting that "a bulky curb weight negates any advantage" from the 2.0-liter engine. ConsumerGuide recommends drivers of the Suzuki SX4 "plan ahead for freeway merging and passing on busy two-lane roads." However, Road and Track reviewers find that the Suzuki "SX4 Sport's 0-60-mph time of 10.2 seconds slots in between the 2.0-liter-powered Mazda3 (9.8 sec.) and the Sentra (10.5 sec.)." Some reviewers aren't impressed by the 2008 Suzuki SX4's engine, but Jalopnik feels that "in the lower gears there's a steady stream of manageable power," and "though you may not want to race for pinks at your local drag strip, there's enough oomph left to keep you entertained in all but the longest straights." The key to understanding the 2008 Suzuki SX4's acceleration is perspective—while you won't outrun any sport sedans, the Suzuki SX4 stacks up well against other vehicles in its class.

Autoblog reports that the Suzuki SX4 is "available with either an automatic or a five-speed manual transmission," and both transmissions score decently well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide says the "SX4 is acceptably quick with manual transmission—given frequent shifting," though it is "a bit slower with the automatic, which kicks down quickly for more power." According to MyRide.com, the Suzuki SX4 "could do with a sixth gear as we found ourselves wanting to up shift several times as we drove on straight highways and freeways. Around the twisty bits, however, just shifting through the gate between second, third and fourth gear was fine." Cars.com reviewers appreciate the "comparatively light, easy-engaging clutch that makes launching the car second-nature" with the manual, and they feel that "the automatic's shifts are succinct and remain composed when accelerating hard."

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 Crossover comes only with all-wheel drive. According to MyRide.com reviewers, the "all-wheel-drive system, called i-AWD, operates in three modes via a console-mounted switch." They also mention that these modes include a "2WD mode" that offers "maximum fuel economy on dry pavement" and an "AWD Auto mode [that] controls the drive power distribution ratio to the rear wheels from zero to 50 percent."

Despite the SX4's small dimensions, which are normally associated with good fuel economy, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2008 Suzuki SX4 lags behind the class in this category. According to official EPA estimates, the front-wheel drive should return 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the automatic, and 22/30 mpg when equipped with the manual. The larger Suzuki SX4 Crossover gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway with either transmission. After seeing the official EPA numbers, Edmunds is disappointed to find that "those numbers are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of subcompact sedans and hatchbacks."

In terms of everyday driving performance, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is a capable commuter. Edmunds says “the standard antilock disc brakes don't seem to mind the extra heft." Kelley Blue Book loves that the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is "easy to maneuver, even in tight confines," thanks in part to its "fairly quick and precise" steering feel.

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2008 Suzuki SX4

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 is comfortable enough for up to four and suitably practical as a hatchback.

The tall 2008 Suzuki SX4 offers plenty of space for those up front and a very practical hatchback design on the Crossover. Unfortunately, rear-seat space and some of the interior materials leave plenty of room for improvement.

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 lineup offers five seatbelts and comfortable seating for front-seat passengers. ConsumerGuide reports that front headroom in the Suzuki SX4 "is ample despite a high seating position for the class," while legroom is also "OK" for most passengers. According to Edmunds, "those who are very tall will appreciate the Suzuki's voluminous headroom in both the front and rear"; they also note that the "propped-up driving position may feel a bit awkward to some consumers, but ex-SUV owners will find it familiar." Kelley Blue Book states that the "rear bench can handle two adults or a trio of kids." The reviewer from Mother Proof isn't so admiring of those backseats, however, pointing out "there's a seat belt in the middle position in the back, but [she] didn't have the heart to make [her] teenager squeeze into a space that was about the width of his right thigh." ConsumerGuide adds that the rear seats are definitely "too narrow for three adults."

Storage space in the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is adequate in the Sport but impressive in the Crossover. Edmunds reports that "the 60/40-split rear seat can be lowered and tumbled forward to open up an ample 38 cubic feet of cargo room" in the Suzuki SX4 Crossover. While the sedan also earns praise from Cars.com for its "sizable 14.3 cubic feet" of storage space in the trunk, "which is larger than the cargo area of the Civic, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla," reviews read by TheCarConnection.com mark down the Suzuki SX4 Sport for its lack of folding rear seats. Inside the Suzuki SX4, ConsumerGuide comments that "cabin storage is useful but not abundant."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are mixed when it comes to build and materials quality on the 2008 Suzuki SX4 lineup. ConsumerGuide says the Suzuki SX4 "cabin materials are appropriate for the price," but Edmunds feels "the quality of the surrounding plastics is a step or two below the materials in rivals." Cars.com reviewers split the difference, claiming that "while the cabin has some downmarket elements...most interior trim pieces are better finished," which "puts the SX4 Sport in the middle of the small car pack." While reviews of the materials may be inconclusive, most reviewers side with Motor Trend when they remark that the Suzuki SX4 offers "made-in-Japan build quality" that can "match, if not surpass, [that] of the Nissan" SE-R.

One welcome benefit of solid build quality is that it typically results in reduced cabin noise, which is definitely the case with the Suzuki SX4. ConsumerGuide reports that "wind noise is modest, and there's little thumping over bumps." While the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is usually hushed, Jalopnik says the "cabin noise you're subjected to as the engine whines above 80 mph" is one of the Suzuki SX4's biggest shortcomings.

Reviewers generally praise the Suzuki's ride quality. ConsumerGuide says that SX4s "ride fairly comfortably for being such small cars; limber but nicely damped suspension and large tires help iron out most rough pavement." Referring to its earlier comment on the vehicle's excessive weight, Edmunds acknowledges that the "extra pounds help give the [Suzuki] SX4 a smooth, refined ride quality.”

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2008 Suzuki SX4


Aside from a few four-star crash-test ratings, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 offers an impressive safety resume.

Some economy cars skimp on safety features in order to keep their base prices down, but not the 2008 Suzuki SX4. The latest hatchback and sedan offerings from Suzuki load all the latest safety features into one small package that also manages to put up solid crash-test ratings.

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 lineup has been tested extensively by NHTSA and boasts impressive crash-test ratings, especially for its size. Both the Suzuki SX4 Sport and Crossover earned four out of five stars in NHTSA frontal impact tests, and both Suzuki SX4 variants earned a perfect five-star rating in side-impact tests. The 2008 Suzuki SX4 also garnered a four-star rating in the rollover category. While these results show no glaring flaws, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 has not yet been tested by the IIHS, which puts vehicles through more stringent exams.

In terms of standard safety features, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 sports all the usual suspects. Edmunds reports that "every 2008 Suzuki SX4 comes with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers." ConsumerGuide points out that a "tire-pressure monitor" and "daytime running lights" are also standard fare on the Suzuki SX4. In addition to the base model's standard safety features, Edmunds remarks that "traction and stability control, an unusual feature for this class, is standard on SX4 Touring models."

Visibility from the driver's seat of the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is decent overall, though some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com bring up minor gripes. ConsumerGuide notes that "some testers complain that the front roof pillars impede the view to the sides," though Edmunds counters by saying that the high seating position is "beneficial to outward visibility." Cars.com takes both sides, finding that "the view forward from the front seats is great, but the large A-pillar on the right side is in the driver's line of sight when checking for pedestrians and cars."

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2008 Suzuki SX4


A short and cheap options list means that the 2008 Suzuki SX4 is a true bargain.

The 2008 Suzuki SX4 offers a tremendous value in the automotive world, but the downside to a low purchase price is that some key features are conspicuously absent.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the Suzuki SX4 is "better equipped in base form than many its competitors" and says the 2008 Suzuki SX4's "crowning touch is its easy-to-use three-mode intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system (i-AWD)." Edmunds also mentions "16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 player and full power accessories" as standard features of the 2008 Suzuki SX4.

Options for the Suzuki SX4 come in "packages," according to Kelley Blue Book; "the Convenience Package includes cruise control, heated outside mirrors, automatic climate control and steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control buttons." Edmunds reports "the Touring Package offers automatic climate control, an upgraded nine-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD changer, heated outside mirrors and the SmartPass keyless entry and engine-start system." Unlike similar vehicles, however, these options do not add substantially to the Suzuki SX4 price; Motor Trend notes that "even when loaded with the available Touring package...the SX4 costs less than $17,000." However, many reviews read by TheCarConnection.com point out that some features are missing from the 2008 Suzuki SX4. Mother Proof is particularly vocal when decrying "the fact that there's no auxiliary input for plugging in an iPod—hard to believe." This feature is becoming ubiquitous on modern vehicles, but for the Suzuki SX4, ConsumerGuide says it's only available as a $160 option, and that an adapter and a "satellite radio" system are the only stand-alone options on the 2008 Suzuki SX4.

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March 26, 2015
For 2008 Suzuki SX4

fantastic car , amazing first car and don't want to sell it

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Car is awesome , it has balls on it and the pedals are perfect to shift , break and accelerate . I bought this car at an auction so i couldn't test drive it or anything , just bought for $6000 at 73, 000km... + More »
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