There’s nothing like a good road trip, so I jumped at the chance to drive Suzuki’s Kizashi from Chicago to the New York Auto Show. Our sedan started its driving life fresh from Suzuki’s plant in Hamamatsu, Japan and from there to various USA auto shows via Russia, Alaska and Western Canada. AutoTrader.com’s writers have previously taken the same car from LA to Seattle for the Seattle Auto Show and another from Detroit to Chicago for the Chicago Auto Show.
We were warned when picking up the car in Chicago just west of O’Hare Airport that the warning light for the tire pressure monitor system would stay on, but not to worry- the pressure was fine and would stay that way- and it did. The warning light was distracting at times, but mostly could be ignored during our 1,000-mile journey. There was also already a crack on the passenger side of the windshield- a mere cosmetic flaw after 9,000-plus grueling miles.
After crossing into Michigan along I-94, the winds kicked up, especially along Lake Michigan for a photo op at Warren Dunes State Park, a popular summer spot for hang gliders with its dramatic 250-foot cliffs. We prefer the open country of western Michigan’s farms along I-94, passing towns like Climax and later Temperance, near the Ohio border. There, gusty westerly winds were kicking the side of the Kizashi, which flawlessly held its steady stance on the freeway.
On the Ohio Turnpike, we finally tried the CD player and were disappointed it only played one disc at a time. Also, one of the previous drivers also must have pumped up the music to the max on the 10-speaker, 425-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo and one rear speaker rattled. That noise could be avoided by keeping the volume down a bit.
But we were really impressed with the thought that went into creating a special spot for the owner’s manual – on its own shelf and out of the way in the glove box- leaving more room for stuff. Other cool features: on-the-fly all-wheel drive, push-button start and no fuel-door button to mess with- it locks automatically when the car is locked.
By the time we hit Pennsylvania the gusts were blasting up to 50 miles an hour, but now at our back as the Kizashi chewed up the interstate past towns and exits like Scrub Grass, Snowshoe, Needful and Punxsutawney, yup home of the famous groundhog.
The Kizashi’s windshield wipers came on automatically when rain clouds burst in the mountains near the Susquehanna River Gorge. Several rainbows appeared when the sun returned shortly afterward.
Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains made a picturesque stop for the night. The Kizashi climbed the steep road up to the still-snow-covered Camelback Ski Resort with ease and several groups of deer greeted us along the way.
The next day, after driving on I-80 through Mother Nature-made’s Delaware Water Gap into New Jersey, we exited to Route 46, the old main road to the Poconos before that spur of I-80 was completed. A must stop is Hot Dog Johnny’s on 46 in Buttzville, a family-owned roadside eatery along a tributary of the Delaware that opened in 1944 and serves birch beer in frosted mugs.
By chance, we followed a sign along 46 to the Island Dragway, a small, off-the-beaten-track speedway in Great Meadows. Had a nice chat with Melissa DeMarcky, 28, the daughter of the owner, who was working on her 2004 Race Specialties’ rear-engine roadster.
Soon back on I-80, the country was gone and the Kizashi zipped along, still getting 30 miles to the gallon or better, as we finally made it into Manhattan- traffic and all.
The Kizashi is an impressive sedan, a nice, smooth car that’s fun to drive. It’s comfortable and quiet at any speed. It’s a good, solid car that can take aggressive cornering and hugs the road. All in all, the Kizashi is a great car for a road trip tour, or just tooling around town.