When most people think of automakers, the Suzuki nameplate is unlikely to be the first brand to pop into their heads. While the 9th-largest car manufacturer is still better known for their motorcycles then their sedans and SUVs, Suzuki has managed to pump out a handful of underdog vehicles over the years that deserve your attention. One such vehicle is the 2010 Suzuki SX4.
The compact vehicle segment is a competitive one. The Suzuki SX4 stands out from the pack largely because of its low price tag and above-average driving dynamics. Outfitted with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2010 SX4 zips along with 150 horsepower and 140 lb-ft. of torque when paired to a manual transmission. Opt for the continuously variable transmission, and you'll lose a little of the fun that comes with driving an SX4.
Regardless of transmission, however, this little Suzuki provides stellar handling around corners and solid acceleration given the low entry fee. While other, even more peppier models in the compact class can be had - most notably the 2010 Honda Fit and 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 - the Suzuki SX4 undercuts the price tags of these class leaders by about $2,000 (base MSRP is $13,359).
The availability of all-wheel drive is another huge advantage offered by the SX4. Few compact competitors offer the added performance of AWD as an available feature, making the Suzuki SX4 an especially great option for those living in cold-weather climates.
The Suzuki SX4 comes in either a sedan or hatchback body style. Opt for the hatchback, and you'll be rewarded with a compact car that delivers a fair amount of cargo capacity. With seats down, drivers can squeeze in as much as 54 cubic feet of cargo. When seats are returned to their full upright positions, storage remains above average with 16 cubic feet of space. Choose the less sporty-looking sedan, and that number drops slightly to 15.5 cubic feet.
Front passengers are also afforded a good degree of space, and the front dash offers a pleasant, stylish environment for drivers to spend their time. Taller passengers will be especially pleased by the decent level of headroom provided by this compact vehicle. However, the Suzuki does lose a couple check marks for seat comfort and interior cabin materials. Hard plastics abound in the SX4, which helps reduce the overall cost, but also diminishes ride quality a bit.
If the interior of the Suzuki SX4 leaves you underwhelmed, then consider looking into the Kia Forte. For just a few hundred dollars more, you'll be rewarded with a long list of standard features. For improved rear passenger comfort, take a look at the 2010 Nissan Versa.
Another caveat worth considering when shopping for a Suzuki SX4 is fuel efficiency. With a maximum 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, the SX4 certainly is no slouch. However, there are plenty of other compact models that sip gas more efficiently. For affordable fuel efficiency, the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa are both solid options.
However, if you are in the market for an AWD model, then the Suzuki SX4 is one of the smartest choices you can make when it comes to fuel efficiency. At 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, the AWD SX4 eats up gasoline far more efficiently than most winter-friendly rides on the road.
While the Suzuki SX4 isn't the safest compact on the road, it does come with a good set of standard safety features. Six airbags, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution are all de facto features. Electronic Stability Control comes standard on upper-tier models. If safety is a top concern for you, check out the Honda Civic or Subaru Impreza.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross