2011 Suzuki SX4 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 15, 2011

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 Crossover remains the most affordable all-wheel-drive car, while the other SX4 models are sporty, well-configured, and a strong value.

Suzuki's SX4 models match up surprisingly well against budget-priced vehicles from other brands, offering strong value for the money and a pleasing, roomy package considering its very compact exterior. The 2011 Suzuki SX4 Crossover is again the lowest-priced vehicle of its type with all-wheel drive.

While the Suzuki SX4 sedan might appear a little too pert and truncated at the back, giving it an anonymous, rather tall look, the exterior of the SX4 Crossover and its sportier front-wheel-drive twin, the SX4 SportBack is much more distinctive. The SX4 sedan, on the other hand, will vanish immediately in the sea of silver subcompacts found in any mall parking lot.

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 is considerably more enjoyable to drive than most other on-a-budget small cars. Both versions of the 2011 Suzuki SX4 come standard with a 150-horsepower version of Suzuki's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, along with a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Suzuki's Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD) system is standard on the Crossover, whereas the SportBack, the entry Sedan, and the fancier Sport sedan make do with simpler front-wheel drive. The SX4 feels smooth and zippy in normal commute-style driving, with enough torque from the engine to feel responsive with either transmission. And throughout the line, they handle quite well.

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Inside the SX4 you'll find better seats than typical for a budget-priced small car; they're well bolstered in front, with a nice, upright position, and while the base nylon seat fabric certainly doesn't scream elegance, it's comfortable. In back, theater-style elevated seating gives both more legroom and a less claustrophobic feeling; there's enough space for two adults in a pinch. While the sedan has a roomy trunk, the hatchback's short tail means luggage space is restricted to 10 cubic feet, only enough for several grocery bags unless you fold down the split rear seat.

Ride quality is nicely damped for a small car, and the SX4 measures up well in refinement except when you press the engine hard, as it becomes quite coarse—even in the middle of its rev range when pressed, or anywhere above 75 mph or so. Wind noise is well suppressed, and through most of the lineup there isn't too much road noise. Plastics are hard up close, but they look good from even a few feet away.

Base sedan versions of the 2011 Suzuki SX4 pose a strong value against some of the lowest-priced cars in the market, while well-equipped SportBack and Crossover models go after a slightly more upscale portion of the small-car market.

Suzuki now only offers the Garmin touchscreen navigation system in models with the Technology Package; it's also fully integrated into the SX4's audio system, and for 2011 includes Google search, real-time traffic and weather, and several other new features.

7

2011 Suzuki SX4

Styling

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 sedan is likely to fade into anonymity, but the sporty hatchback is more charismatic in appearance; in either case, the interior has a stylish simplicity.

While the Suzuki SX4 sedan might appear a little too pert and truncated at the back, giving it an anonymous, rather tall look, the exterior of the SX4 Crossover and its sportier front-wheel-drive twin, the SX4 SportBack is much more memorable and distinctive. The two hatchbacks look much the same, though the SportBack has no roof rack, a subtle aero kit, and suspension that's half an inch lower. The SX4 sedan, on the other hand, will vanish immediately in the sea of silver subcompacts found in any mall parking lot.

Inside, the SX4 is simple in layout, with no surprises, but its materials and trim look and feel a little more upscale than what you'd expect given the SX4's price. Last year, aluminum trim surrounds were added for the instrument panel, and the large, knurled knobs for the ventilation system are simple and intuitively easy to use.

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8

2011 Suzuki SX4

Performance

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 SportBack and sedan models offer impressive handling and a nimble feel, while the Crossover trades some of that for all-weather traction.

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 is considerably more enjoyable to drive than most other on-a-budget small cars.

Both versions of the 2011 Suzuki SX4 come standard with a 150-horsepower version of Suzuki's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, along with a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Suzuki's Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD) system is standard on the Crossover, whereas the SportBack, the entry Sedan, and the fancier Sport sedan make do with simpler front-wheel drive.

The SX4 feels smooth and zippy in normal commute-style driving, with enough torque from the engine to feel responsive with either transmission. The manual gearbox seems the best way to take advantage of the engine's sprightly mid-rev response; however paddle shifters that simulate fixed ratios in the CVT give the driver a feeling of control that meshes well with the SX4's sporty feel—which includes steering that loads and unloads nicely.

Because of its height and taller, more compliant suspension, the SX4 Crossover doesn't take nearly as well as the other models to truly enthusiastic driving, when its engine booms and the body rolls in turns. It's also the heaviest model, and the SX4's overly aggressive throttle tip-in can convince you there's more power—until you drive foot to the floor. Crossover models get an unusual AWD setup, called i-AWD, that has a front-wheel-drive only model to aid fuel economy on dry roads, while in its normal mode the system can send up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels.

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8

2011 Suzuki SX4

Comfort & Quality

Nice front seats, a roomy layout, and a pleasant ride make the SX4 a standout, even if refinement and materials aren't top notch in all respects.

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The 2011 Suzuki SX4 models are far from luxurious inside, but they have well-configured cabins with accommodating seating and reasonably good refinement.

 

Inside the SX4 you'll find better seats than typical for a budget-priced small car; they're well bolstered in front, with a nice, upright position, and while the base nylon seat fabric certainly doesn't scream elegance, it's comfortable. In back, theater-style elevated seating gives both more legroom and a less claustrophobic feeling; there's enough space for two adults in a pinch.

 

With the seat down and the load space filled to the ceiling, the Crossover and SportBack can handle a more useful 54 cubic feet of cargo. The sedan's trunk holds 15.5 cubic feet of cargo, fairly good for the class, but the hatchback's short tail means luggage space is restricted to 10 cubic feet to seatback height, only enough for several grocery bags unless you fold down the split rear seat.

 

Ride quality is nicely damped for a small car, and the SX4 measures up well in refinement except when you press the engine hard, as it becomes quite coarse—even in the middle of its rev range when pressed, or anywhere above 75 mph or so. Wind noise is well suppressed, and through most of the lineup there isn't too much road noise. Plastics are hard up close, but they look good from even a few feet away.

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 models are far from luxurious inside, but they have well-configured cabins with accommodating seating and reasonably good refinement.

 

Inside the SX4 you'll find better seats than typical for a budget-priced small car; they're well bolstered in front, with a nice, upright position, and while the base nylon seat fabric certainly doesn't scream elegance, it's comfortable. In back, theater-style elevated seating gives both more legroom and a less claustrophobic feeling; there's enough space for two adults in a pinch.

 

With the seat down and the load space filled to the ceiling, the Crossover and SportBack can handle a more useful 54 cubic feet of cargo. The sedan's trunk holds 15.5 cubic feet of cargo, fairly good for the class, but the hatchback's short tail means luggage space is restricted to 10 cubic feet to seatback height, only enough for several grocery bags unless you fold down the split rear seat.

 

Ride quality is nicely damped for a small car, and the SX4 measures up well in refinement except when you press the engine hard, as it becomes quite coarse—even in the middle of its rev range when pressed, or anywhere above 75 mph or so. Wind noise is well suppressed, and through most of the lineup there isn't too much road noise. Plastics are hard up close, but they look good from even a few feet away.

Review continues below
7

2011 Suzuki SX4

Safety

The SX4's strong list of standard safety features is noteworthy, but its safety ratings themselves aren't class-leading.

Especially relative to other small-car models, the Suzuki SX4 has a strong set of safety features—and there's no compromise for base models. Side and side-curtain bags are included, along with electronic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes—in a class in which rear drums are the norm. And for 2011, rear side airbags have been added to the roster, along with larger rear head restraints.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the SX4 has earned top 'good' ratings for frontal offset and side impact, though it only received a 'marginal' score in the seat-based rear-impact test—indicating a higher chance of whiplash or neck injury.

The SX4 hasn't yet been rated in the revised (and more stringent) federal NCAP tests introduced for 2011. But in the former federal tests, both the Suzuki SX4 Sport and Crossover earned four out of five stars in NHTSA frontal impact tests, and both styles achieved a perfect five-star rating in side-impact tests.

Visibility from the driver's seat is particularly good, with the upright seating and dropped window line providing a better-than-average view.

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9

2011 Suzuki SX4

Features

Especially in its well-equipped SportBack and all-wheel-drive Crossover models, the SX4 offers a lot of features for the money.

Base sedan versions of the 2011 Suzuki SX4 pose a strong value against some of the lowest-priced cars in the market, while well-equipped SportBack and Crossover models go after a slightly more upscale portion of the small-car market.

The base SX4 sedan comes as a stripped-down, very simple small car—albeit one with power windows, power mirrors, and a full set of safety features, but no sound system. A new Anniversary Edition package adds to the base car 17-inch alloy wheels plus a four-speaker CD sound system, air conditioning, and keyless entry.

SX4 SportBack models are equipped with a raft of standard features, including power windows, locks, and mirrors; fog lights; an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system ready for Sirius Satellite Radio; a six-disc CD changer; keyless start; 17-inch alloy wheels; and a trip computer. Similarly, the base 2010 Suzuki SX4 Crossover—which is still the lowest-priced all-wheel-drive car in the U.S.—includes 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, and a four-speaker CD sound system. Suzuki also offers an accessory iPod interface that can be used via steering-wheel controls, with playlists and track information appearing on the audio display.

Suzuki now only offers the Garmin touchscreen navigation system in models with the Technology Package. Its flip-up 4.3-inch touchscreen display can be removed, and the system comes preloaded with mapping software that includes hotels, restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, and more. It's also fully integrated into the SX4's audio system, and for 2011 also includes Google search, real-time traffic and weather, and several other new features.

An optional upgraded TRIP system adds hands-free calling via Bluetooth, and text messaging is delivered both on-screen and audibly.

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7

2011 Suzuki SX4

Fuel Economy

While the SX4 is reasonably fuel-efficient compared to the market as a whole, it's thirsty and not so green.

The Suzuki SX4 gets quite low fuel economy numbers for a small family of subcompacts. EPA ratings for the SX4 range from just 22 to 25 in the city and 29 to 33 on the highway, with base front-wheel-drive sedans the best, at 25 mpg city, 32 highway with the CVT or 23/33 with the six-speed manual.

One of the reasons is that the SX4 is surprisingly heavy. Top-of-the-line SX4 AWD models weigh nearly 3,000 pounds, which is a lot for a vehicle that's just 163 inches long.

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April 21, 2015
For 2011 Suzuki SX4

Great little hatchback!

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I originally bought a new 2005 Suzuki Vitara 4x4 and drove it for almost 6 years and 140,000 Km of trouble free driving. Since the SX4 had the same 2.0 Litre 4 cylinder engine we decided to buy the SX4 and we... + More »
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