Test Drive: Suzuki SX4

Too bad Honda used the slogan ?We make it simple?, because it?s perfect for the Suzuki SX4.? From the time you walk up to this little five-door, open the door and slide behind the wheel it?s obvious this car is simple.? And, that?s a good ‘simple’.

The simplicity covers everything from the styling, to ease of operation.? With its tall design, ingress and egress is simple with lots of headroom and seats that are at the height of a normal chair.? Once inside, the comfortable front seats wrap around your body, there is plenty of headroom and even quite good legroom.? The same goes for the rear seat, as long as the front seats are not pushed all the way back.? Seating is designed for five, but anyone much larger than a size 0 supermodel will be squished in the middle of the back seat.? Plus, everyone but the supermodel has a neat spot in the door for a cream soda.

Cargo space is 16 cubic feet; that?s the same as the Buick LaCrosse or Cadillac CTS.? If you need more space, simply drop the split rear seat backs and you have a flat surface that holds up to 54 cubic feet.? There is also a handy compartment under the cargo space that looks large enough to hold about half-a-dozen hula-hoops and a case of cream soda.

For 2010, the SX4 gets an all-new 150-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.? That is seven horsepower more than the previous engine, and it is one of the most powerful engines in the segment.

The SX4 is simply fun to drive.? Our test car had the standard six-speed manual transmission.? Normally Barbara prefers an automatic transmission but she enjoyed driving this car so much, she was making up reasons to go places. ?For those who prefer the automatic and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a smooth CVT (continuously variable transmission) adds $1,150 to the price and gets one mile per gallon better fuel economy in the city than the manual.

Zero to 60 mph acceleration times are a very respectable 8.4 seconds.? EPA fuel economy ratings are 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.? Our average during the week we drove the SX Sportback was 29.1 mpg, and that?s because Barbara did most of the driving.

The standard equipment on our Sportback test car included navigation with real time traffic and weather, automatic air conditioning, keyless start, trip computer, aero body package, power windows and locks, premium audio with 6-disc CD changer and cruise control.? Safety features include stability control, traction control, fog lights and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock.? That is simply impressive for a $19,118 car.

The front wheel-drive SX4 pricing starts at $16,584, including the destination charge. ?All-wheel drive adds $1,000.? The top of the line SX4 Sportback with automatic transmission is $19,834.? The only three options are floor mats, Bluetooth and metallic paint, which combined take the price to $20,398.

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