Suzuki claims that the SX4 is the best-priced crossover with all-wheel drive, and for 2009 Suzuki sweetened the deal by including a touch screen navigation system as standard equipment.
The Suzuki SX4 is available as a sedan as well as a Crossover version. Suzuki's Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (I-AWD) system is standard on the Crossover and optional on the sedan Sport. Both versions come standard with a 143-horsepower version of Suzuki's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.
The SX4 doesn't take well to enthusiastic driving, when its engine gets boomy and the body leans a fair amount. The 2009 Suzuki SX4 comes across as smooth and zippy in normal, relaxed driving, with enough torque from the engine to feel responsive with either transmission, though the manual gearbox seems especially sporty. Wind noise is notably absent, but fuel economy remains a weak point. With the more economical front-wheel-drive sedan, it's still only rated at 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway--not much better than a mid-size sedan.
The 2009 Suzuki SX4 offers a spacious and well-designed interior. The instrument panel is styled simply but attractively, and materials look and feel like those of more expensive vehicles. The seating design is especially nice and upright, and the seats are better and better bolstered than those of rival inexpensive cars. In back, theater-style elevated seating allows more legroom and a less claustrophobic feeling.
The newly standard navigation system is supplied by Garmin and called the TRIP (Travel, Real-time traffic, Information and Play). The unit features a removable, flip-up 4.3-inch touch screen display; is preloaded with mapping software with millions of hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations, ATMs, and so on; and is fully integrated into the SX4's audio system. An optional upgraded TRIP system includes Bluetooth hands-free calling, on-screen and audible text messaging, plus other features.
Options are grouped into two large packages; the Convenience Package picks up heated mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, and automatic climate control, while the Touring Package adds to that electronic stability control, a SmartPass entry system, roof rails, fog lamps, and an upgraded sound system. The base 2009 Suzuki SX4 Crossover includes 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, and a four-speaker CD sound system.
Actual crash-test performance has been middle-of-the-pack, with four out of five stars in the federal tests for frontal and side impact. However, the 2009 Suzuki SX4 really piles on the standard safety features, including anti-lock disc brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; electronic stability control is part of the top Touring Package option.
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 Suzuki SX4 is an amazing bargain, but it might not meet your most frugal car needs at the pump.