2009 Suzuki SX4 Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 11, 2009

The 2009 Suzuki SX4 is an amazing bargain, but it might not meet your most frugal car needs at the pump.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the new Suzuki SX4 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com also researched road tests and firsthand reviews of the new 2009 Suzuki SX4 to produce this conclusive assessment.

Suzuki claims that the SX4 is the best-priced crossover with all-wheel drive, and for 2009 Suzuki sweetened the deal by including a touch screen navigation system as standard equipment.

The Suzuki SX4 is available as a sedan as well as a Crossover version. Suzuki's Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD) system is standard on the Crossover and optional on the sedan Sport. Both versions come standard with a 143-horsepower version of Suzuki's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.

The SX4 doesn't take well to enthusiastic driving, when its engine gets boomy and the body leans a fair amount. The 2009 Suzuki SX4 comes across as smooth and zippy in normal, relaxed driving, with enough torque from the engine to feel responsive with either transmission, though the manual gearbox seems especially sporty. Wind noise is notably absent, but fuel economy remains a weak point. With the more economical front-wheel-drive sedan, it's still only rated at 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway—not much better than a mid-size sedan.

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The 2009 Suzuki SX4 offers a spacious and well-designed interior. The instrument panel is styled simply but attractively, and materials look and feel like those of more expensive vehicles. The seating design is especially nice and upright, and the seats are better and better bolstered than those of rival inexpensive cars. In back, theater-style elevated seating allows more legroom and a less claustrophobic feeling.

The newly standard navigation system is supplied by Garmin and called the TRIP (Travel, Real-time traffic, Information and Play). The unit features a removable, flip-up 4.3-inch touch screen display; is preloaded with mapping software with millions of hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations, ATMs, and so on; and is fully integrated into the SX4’s audio system. An optional upgraded TRIP system includes Bluetooth hands-free calling, on-screen and audible text messaging, plus other features.

Options are grouped into two large packages; the Convenience Package picks up heated mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, and automatic climate control, while the Touring Package adds to that electronic stability control, a SmartPass entry system, roof rails, fog lamps, and an upgraded sound system. The base 2009 Suzuki SX4 Crossover includes 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, and a four-speaker CD sound system.

Actual crash-test performance has been middle-of-the-pack, with four out of five stars in the federal tests for frontal and side impact. However, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 really piles on the standard safety features, including anti-lock disc brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; electronic stability control is part of the top Touring Package option.


2009 Suzuki SX4


The 2009 Suzuki SX4 looks pretty good as a hatchback but a bit awkward in sedan form.

Suzuki's designers have clearly focused their attention where 2009 Suzuki SX4 owners will spend the majority of their time: the car's interior.

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 2009 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.

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 2009 Suzuki SX4 boasts "an orthodox dashboard design [that] holds large, legible gauges and simple, handy minor controls."

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2009 Suzuki SX4


The 2009 Suzuki SX4 does offer a surprisingly engaging ride, but fuel economy is worse than expected.

The 2009 Suzuki SX4's extra weight requires extra power, which results in an extra-thirsty small car. It seems Suzuki forgot that fuel economy is one of the primary concerns among economy-car shoppers.

The key to understanding the 2009 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. 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.)." The 2009 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." Some reviewers aren't impressed by the 2009 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." Edmunds observes that "though it has a powerful engine compared to its subcompact competition, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 is no hot rod," noting that "a bulky curb weight negates any advantage" from the 2.0-liter engine.

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." 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." 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."

According to reviewers at MyRide.com, 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" offering "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."

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." Despite the SX4's small dimensions, which are normally associated with good fuel economy, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2009 Suzuki SX4 lags behind the class in this category.

Kelley Blue Book loves that the 2009 Suzuki SX4 is "easy to maneuver, even in tight confines," thanks in part to its "fairly quick and precise" steering feel. Edmunds says “the standard antilock disc brakes don't seem to mind the extra heft." In terms of everyday driving performance, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 is a capable commuter.

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2009 Suzuki SX4

Comfort & Quality

The tall 2009 Suzuki SX4 offers plenty of space for those up front, but rear-seat space and some of the interior materials leave plenty of room for improvement.

The 2009 Suzuki SX4 is comfortable enough for up to four and suitably practical as a hatchback.

When it comes to build and materials quality on the 2009 Suzuki SX4 lineup, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are mixed. Edmunds feels "the quality of the surrounding plastics is a step or two below the materials in rivals,” while ConsumerGuide says the Suzuki SX4 "cabin materials are appropriate for the price.” 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." Though 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.

Reduced cabin noise is a welcome benefit of the Suzuki SX4’s solid build quality. ConsumerGuide reports that "wind noise is modest, and there's little thumping over bumps." While the 2009 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.

In regard to ride quality, reviewers are favorable and complimentary. 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.”

Kelley Blue Book states that the "rear bench can handle two adults or a trio of kids." The reviewer from MotherProof 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." The 2009 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."

The sedan 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, "cabin storage is useful but not abundant," comments ConsumerGuide. Storage space in the 2009 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.

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2009 Suzuki SX4


Some economy cars skimp on safety features but not the 2009 SX4.

Aside from a few four-star crash-test ratings, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 offers an impressive safety resume.

The 2009 Suzuki SX4 has not been tested by the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which puts vehicles through very stringent exams. However, the SX4 lineup has been tested extensively by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and boasted 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, as well as a four-star rating in the rollover category.

The list of safety features on the 2009 Suzuki SX4 includes what’s expected on a modern vehicle. Edmunds remarks that "traction and stability control, an unusual feature for this class, is standard on SX4 Touring models." ConsumerGuide points out that a "tire-pressure monitor" and "daytime running lights" are standard fare on the Suzuki SX4. Edmunds reports that "every 2009 Suzuki SX4 comes with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers."

The 2009 Suzuki SX4 generally provides decent visibility, but some reviewers issue minor complaints. ConsumerGuide notes "some testers complain that the front roof pillars impede the view to the sides," though Edmunds counters by saying the high seating position is "beneficial to outward visibility." Cars.com takes both sides, finding "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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2009 Suzuki SX4


The 2009 Suzuki SX4 offers a tremendous value, but a few key features are still conspicuously absent.

A short and cheap options list means that the 2009 Suzuki SX4 is a true bargain. For 2009, Suzuki sweetens the SX4’s features package by including a touch screen navigation system as standard equipment.

The Garmin system is referred to by Suzuki as TRIP (Travel, Real-time traffic, Information and Play). The unit features a removable, flip-up 4.3-inch touch screen display; is preloaded with mapping software with millions of hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations, ATMs, and so on; and is fully integrated into the SX4’s audio system. An optional upgraded TRIP system includes Bluetooth hands-free calling, on-screen and audible text messaging, plus other features.

Edmunds mentions "16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 player and full power accessories" as standard features of the 2009 Suzuki SX4. Kelley Blue Book reports that the Suzuki SX4 is "better equipped in base form than many its competitors" and says the 2009 Suzuki SX4's "crowning touch is its easy-to-use three-mode intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system (i-AWD)."

Unlike similar vehicles, the SX4’s options do not add substantially to the 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 2009 Suzuki SX4. MotherProof 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 an adapter and a "satellite radio" system are the only stand-alone options on the 2009 Suzuki SX4. Most 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."

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