Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Suzuki XL-7 Overview
The Little Suburban Warrior
The mid-size SUV class has extremes straddling both ends of the spectrum. Standing just a few inches over the line that separates Midsize from mini is the Suzuki XL-7. Resting on a stretched Grand Vitara platform, the XL-7 retains the width and height of its mini cousin but gains in both length and passenger volume. It also has a larger, more-powerful 2.7-liter V6 engine. In an attempt to position the XL-7 as an alternative to a full-sized SUV, Suzuki has added a third-row bench seat, officially increasing the seating capacity to seven. In reality, the third seat is best relegated to small children and even then only for very short trips. Adults under six-foot can fit comfortably into the center-row seats, but may find their knees touching the front seat backs. Seating up front offers good head and legroom, and although the twin buckets are very firm and supportive, some may find them a bit on the narrow side. The large rear doors make entry and exit easy.
On the road, the XL-7's longer wheelbase delivers an unexpectedly smooth, confident ride. The steering wheel feels nicely balanced and gives good feedback from the road. However, negotiating tight curves requires more input to the wheel than one might expect. Wind and road noise is kept in check, further adding to the pleasant driving experience. The V6 is silent at idle and barely noticeable until pushed to full throttle, at which point gear noise gets rather rude. XL-7s equipped with automatic transmissions offer both an overdrive feature and a power switch feature. These systems essentially work by electronically regulating the transmission's shift points for either maximum acceleration or maximum fuel economy. Off-road, the softer suspension allows the back end to bounce around, especially at speeds over 20 mph. The optional 4WD engages via a shift lever on the floor console and is not intended for highway driving.
This year, a new interior design vastly improves the XL7's ergonomics. The stylish dash places all the instruments up high, within easy view of the driver's eye. The texture, fit and finish of the plastics is first rate but the front-door armrests are still too far forward of the seats when fully extended reward.
Other than that, the XL-7 comes off as a useful vehicle that is fun to drive, easy to park and reasonably priced.