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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Suzuki Aerio Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Suzuki Aerio Overview

Don't Overlook This Roomy Compact

Suzuki's little Aerio may not be as well known as the Civic or Corolla, but it is definitely one compact that should not be overlooked. Beyond its attractive price, roomy interior and standout styling, the Aerio can be ordered in either sedan or wagon form, something that neither the Corolla nor Civic offers.

The Aerio is a basic sedan with four doors and a trunk; the Aerio SX is billed by Suzuki as a "sport cross-over" vehicle and resembles a cross between a small minivan and a sport wagon. The Aerio sedan is a handsome little car, with tall doors that allow for easy entry and exit and a huge trunk that is almost as deep as it is wide. The edgy look of the squared-off front bumper and tall slab-sided sheetmetal make the Aerio appear to be larger and heavier than it really is; the illusion is carried even further by the SX model with its additional glass and standard 15-inch wheels. One of the nice things we discovered during our time with the Aerio is that its tall shape makes it easy to spot in crowded parking lots, provided it is amongst other cars and not gargantuan SUVs.

The interior of the Aerio is a real delight in this price segment and usually brought words of praise from those viewing it for the first time. For an economy-level sedan, the fit and finish and level of content in the Aerio is truly impressive, especially when you consider the base S model begins at just under $13,500. The tall dash is comprised of a long sweeping arc divided in two by a bulging center section that contains the audio and HVAC controls. Behind the steering wheel resides an all-digital readout including a speedometer, tachometer and fuel and temperature gauges. The height-adjustable wheel is placed just right so that you don't have to stretch your arms straight out to reach it. The dash design flows onto the doors and, on LX models, encases the power window and power door lock controls.

The two-tone front seats are smartly styled and extremely comfortable, equipped with a wide seat bottom cushion and a fairly decent amount of lumbar support. The tall center transmission stalk that resides between the front seats further highlights just how high up you sit in this car. You and your passengers will love the upright seating and the amazing amount of headroom-both front and rear. If you opt for the Sport Wagon, the additional room with the second-row seat folded down will blow you away. It's hard to think of anything you could haul in a small to midsized SUV that wouldn't fit into the Aerio wagon.

Both the Aerio and Aerio SX come very well equipped. The sedan offers two trim levels, the S and LX, while the wagon is available only in one well-equipped version. The S comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, a Clarion six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, tilt-wheel, rear defroster and numerous cup holders and storage bins. To this already impressive list, the LX adds 15-inch alloy wheels, power door locks, cruise control, keyless entry, fog lamps, rear spoiler, a height-adjustable driver's seat, under seat storage tray, rear center armrest and overhead map lights. Even with all this equipment, the Aerio LX remains priced below $15K ($15,199 with destination).

The Aerio's look promises sports-car-like fun and its all-new 2.3-liter engine delivers on the promise without fail. The new engine ups horsepower to 155, a 15 hp increase over last year's 2.0-liter engine. Though thrifty—the Aerio earns an EPA city/highway rating of 25 city/ 31 highway—the little engine makes decent low-end power and is surprisingly smooth at highway speeds. The automatic does not sap the engine of its power and seems fairly confident in its ability to pick a gear and stick with it (as opposed to hunting around with any change of the throttle). The five-speed manual feels equally at home in the Aerio, though you may find the throws—the distance gearshift travels between gears—a bit long. The Aerio's suspension returns a comfortable ride that is on par with this class and interior sound levels remained fairly low inside the sedan (the wagon's open rear area does allow some additional road noise into the cabin).

The Aerio also performs well in the safety arena, where it earned high marks in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 40-mph offset crash test. In all, the Aerio offers space, performance and economy and safety at a price that should please even the thriftiest shopper. If you are in the market for a small sedan or wagon, you really should take the Aerio for a spin.

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