By Al Vinikour
Your first thought when shopping a crossover might not be Suzuki. It’s one of the few brands known more for its name than its vehicles (what exactly is a Forenza, anyway?). And even then, the Suzuki most of us know has two wheels and a 200-mph top end.
may change after a first drive of the new XL7. Suzuki doesn’t have the cachet of
a Honda or a
And then there’s the trump card — a seven-year, 100,000-mile, fully transferable warranty, nearly the best in the industry in time and miles.
Forget the former
The new XL7 isn’t what you remember from years past. Instead of a truck-based vehicle with rugged four-wheel drive (the last XL-7 was a stretched Grand Vitara, after all), the new version is longer, wider, and offers more seats and more power. Essentially, it’s a version of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, but with one important difference other than style — the engine.
2007 Suzuki XL7
Only one engine is offered in the XL7 and it’s a good one: a 3.6-liter, 24-valve DOHC V-6 that puts out 252 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. It’s almost a liter larger and 70 horsepower more powerful than its predecessor. Plus, it’s coupled to a seamless five-speed automatic transmission with manumatic control.
Fuel economy is decent, for all that power. The XL7 gets approximately 10-15 percent better fuel economy than most mid-size body-on-frame SUVs, Suzuki claims. EPA figures are 18 city, 24 highway with front-wheel drive; 17/23 mpg for all-wheel drive.
Bigger is better
I’m not a big fan of third-row seating unless you’re a child or a pretzel. However, there is a big demand for it. In the XL7, third-row legroom is 30.9 inches, decent enough for small adults but better for kids and their friends, imaginary or real.
The interior is flexible enough to
accommodate all shapes of folks — and cargo, too. The second-row, 60/40
split-folding seats tumble forward and fold, and the third row folds flat into
the floor to create a big grocery hold. There’s also a fold-flat front-passenger
seat so there’s plenty of room to carry such items as ladders, surfboards (a
popular item in the
2007 Suzuki XL7
The XL7’s four-wheel independent suspension is responsive enough to please a large family that doesn’t miss its old sportscars. In the five-passenger versions, the XL7 uses standard hydraulic shocks and an all-independent suspension. As a seven-passenger vehicle, it switches to Nivomat load-leveling rear shock absorbers to withstand the heavier loads.
The XL7 also can tow 3500 pounds, if the in-laws happen to be in town.
Dressed for success
In addition to its nicely shaped front end and an intuitive dash design with good quality materials, the XL7 gets three distinct trim levels to please buyers looking for a Chevy Equinox by another name.
The base car offers plenty of standard features, including power windows/door locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The Luxury model adds leather seats, a power driver seat, heated front seats and wood trim accents. With the seven-passenger configuration, Suzuki offers an optional sunroof or an optional DVD entertainment package with wireless headphones and remote start feature.
The Limited adds fog lamps, a rear spoiler, 17-inch wheels and tires, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 XM Radio-ready audio system with seven speakers (including a subwoofer), and a DVD entertainment system. A Platinum package adds a navigation system and chromed wheels.
The Limited comes only as a seven-seater, while seven-seat capacity is available on the other two versions. All-wheel drive is optional across the board.
2007 Suzuki XL7
Safety features on all XL7s include dual front airbags, with side-curtain airbags for all rows of passengers. There’s also standard anti-lock brakes with stability and traction control.
The not-so-hard sell
But the best feature for XL7-curious shoppers likely will be the warranty. In spite of Suzuki’s strong reputation for reliability, marketers decided the brand needed a big guarantee. So, the XL7 is backed by a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty. Only Hyundai and Kia can offer better deals, but neither offers a three-row crossover just yet (Hyundai’s three-row Veracruz is due early next year).
With all the new XL7 has to offer you’re only hurting yourself if you omit it from your prospects. Pricing for the XL7 begins at $22,899; the Luxury edition starts at $24,599; and the Limited begins at $27,949. Destination charge is $635 for all models.
Transmission: Five-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive
Length x width x
197.2 x 72.2 x 68.9 in
Wheelbase: 112.4 in
Curb weight: 3886 lb (2WD); 4049 lb (AWD)
Fuel economy (EPA
18/24 mpg (2WD); 17/23 mpg (AWD)
Safety equipment: Anti-lock brakes; stability and traction control; dual front, side and curtain airbags; tire pressure monitors
Major standard equipment: Power windows, door locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; auto on/off headlamps; automatic climate control; AM/FM/CD stereo system with six speakers
Warranty: Seven years/100,000 miles