Review: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi a solid commuter, but not so 'sporty'

Suzuki made a bold prediction when it named its midsize sedan Kizashi, which means "something good is coming." But perhaps a more accurate moniker would have reflected, "something better is coming."...

Suzuki made a bold prediction when it named its midsize sedan Kizashi, which means "something good is coming." But perhaps a more accurate moniker would have reflected, "something better is coming."

That is, something better than the carmaker (known more for motorcycles) has ever presented in the realm of automobiles. If you recall the Verona, I think you know what I am talking about.

The Kizashi leaps into one of the most competitive segments in the automobile industry. I was excited to examine its chances, and happy to see this struggling company may have hit the sweet spot with the Kizashi.

With one exception: The GTS sport version tested looks sporty, but doesn't really act it. I think it falls short when it comes to sport driving.

It is what you might call handsome in a VW Jetta sort of way. If you get this family sedan in the GTS with Vivid Red and its 18-inch wheels, it may turn some heads.


And, inside, leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel set a sporty tone. Plus, there's the sunroof, Bluetooth and a Rockford Fosgate 10-speaker audio system that can match the systems in some much higher-priced models. This sound system, in fact, will dazzle your audio senses.

That brings us back to performance. Let me clarify: As a daily commuter and even for weekend road trips, this is a fine automobile.

The ride is on the firmer side but is comfortable. Handling is competent, and the cabin is quiet even at highway speeds. Steering is crisp enough, and brakes get high ratings on performance.

But, despite being equipped with a six-speed manual, the GTS strains to imitate an actual sport sedan. First off, the GTS Sport doesn't add any power from the base, just a sportier suspension.

All Kizashis get the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that gets 185 horsepower. It sends 170 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels for a 0-60 run of 7.7 seconds, about par for the segment.

Road feel is good, but cornering is only adequate. Steering is on the light side for a sportier machine, too.

The available CVT (continuously variable transmission) is no place for the sportsters. But the six-speed manual did not bring out the sport-driver in me either.

But to repeat: As a daily commuter, Kizashi is one of the best out there. Shifts in the manual are smooth and easy as it slips into each gear like it knows where it's going -- it doesn't need much guidance. And the clutch is light and easy, even for those just starting out on manuals.


Inside, visibility is excellent in all directions. Road and wind noise are kept to a minimum. And seats are contoured for comfort even on long hauls.

Interior materials are soft and rich, something more often found in luxury models. The leather-trimmed steering wheel, armrests and top of the dash feel great. Overall fit and finish is impressive, too. The shifter and parking handle also are trimmed in leather.

Controls are easy to read and use. Dual-zone AC and iPod interface are standard. And the GTS version gets Bluetooth and a 10-speaker, 425-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo to boot.

I would have liked the telescoping steering wheel to come out a bit further, and those taller than me, at 6-1, would likely agree.

The Kizashi is bigger than the compacts but falls short of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. But headroom and legroom, generally, are more than adequate and rear legroom was decent for me.

Plus, the trunk at 13.3 cubic feet, is more than adequate for golf clubs, suitcases or groceries.

Kizashi protects its passengers with eight air bags, including seat-mounted bags and side curtains. Safety is further enhanced with ABS, traction and stability control.

Four trim levels are offered: The base S gets you in under $20,000 for a front-wheel-drive with manual tranny. Add another $2,500 or so for the SE which includes automatic tranny, power seats and 17-inch wheels.


Go with the GTS and get the moon roof, fog lights and Rockford stereo. The SLS gets more luxury with leather seats, rear-parking assist and rain-sensing wipers. Give Suzuki credit for presenting its best effort yet in its Kizashi. If you seek a practical, affordable and good looking midsize sedan, check it out. If it's an aggressive and sprightly machine you crave, there's more shopping to do.



--Base price: $18,999

--As tested: $22,879 (GTS with power sunroof, Rockford Fosgate audio, 18-inch wheels)

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