A new 7-passenger SUV that debuted as a 2007 model, the XL7 is based on the same General Motors platform as the Chevrolet Equinox. A more car-like vehicle, the new XL7 gives up some of the off-road capability of earlier versions in favor of everyday ride and drivability.
To further differentiate the XL7 from the other GM SUVs built on the same platform, Suzuki has added third-row seating. The third-row seat is optional on lower trim levels and standard for the Limited, which also features 17-inch chrome alloy wheels.
Although the XL7 is now larger than earlier generations, the new platform is evident by a low step-in height that makes it easier to slip into the driver's seat. On the outside, the XL7 is narrower than other 7-passenger competitors for easier maneuverability and parking, but it doesn't feel narrow inside.
The interior has a clean, simple design with excellent ergonomics overall and useful storage space. A neat feature: the screen for the rearview camera is incorporated into the rearview mirror - it's small but very useful. One small issue is the location of the heated-seat switch - it's easy to inadvertently turn on the heated seat when adjusting the climate control. Also, there is a small ridge above each of the window switches that catches dirt and crumbs.
Powered by a GM-sourced 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine, and teamed with a 5-speed automatic transmission, the XL7 delivers good acceleration for a vehicle of this size and gets decent fuel economy. Rated at 16/22 mpg (city/hwy), we experienced 18 mpg combined. There is some torque steer under hard acceleration in the front-wheel-drive version.
The XL7 delivers an acceptable balance between responsiveness and a comfortable ride. The handling can't be described as sporty, but for a vehicle of this size the steering is direct and the suspension is well controlled, which inspires confidence. Wrapped in a stylish new design, Suzuki has delivered another alternative for families looking to bridge the gap between a minivan and a full-size SUV.