TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Suzuki XL7 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's crossover experts researched available road tests on the new Suzuki XL7 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.
The 2009 Suzuki XL7 should especially appeal to families who want a roomy vehicle with a small third-row seat for occasional use but not the higher sticker price or extra fuel expenses of larger SUVs.
Five-passenger seating is standard on the base, Premium, and Luxury models of the 2009 XL7 with seven-passenger seating optional, except for the Limited trim level where seven-passenger seating is the standard arrangement. The seven-passenger models add a 50/50-split folding third-row bench large enough for small children only. Entry and exit are quite difficult, but the third row can be folded flat into the floor when not in use. The second row folds forward, as does the front passenger seat's backrest for accommodating very long items.
In addition to a handsome exterior design, the 2009 Suzuki XL7 boasts a standard 3.6-liter, 252-horsepower V-6 engine teamed up with a new six-speed automatic with manual shift capability. Suzuki claims the XL7 can accelerate from 0-60 in less than eight seconds--a big improvement over the previous model. The XL7 rides and handles much like a mid-size sedan, with a relatively soft, smooth ride and handling that's safe but not at all sporty.
Front-wheel drive is standard, though the available all-wheel-drive system is good for slippery road situations, sending up to 50 percent of power to the back wheels when the fronts slip. With either drive system, the 2009 Suzuki XL7 has brisk acceleration compared to other crossover SUVs, with quiet cruising and quick downshifts for passing power.
The carlike four-wheel independent suspension uses MacPherson struts up front and a multilink rear. Seven-passenger models get a load-leveling Nivomat rear suspension that's useful for those who plan to tow or haul heavy loads; tow capacity is rated at up to 3,500 pounds.
Standard safety features include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side-curtain rollover-sensing bags. Crash-test results are very good, garnering top five-star results in all of the federal government's tests, along with "good" and "acceptable" results for frontal and side impact, respectively, from the IIHS. Rear impact protection is rated "marginal," however.
The 2009 Suzuki XL7 is closely related to the older version of the Saturn Vue, the Chevrolet Equinox, and the Pontiac Torrent, but is arguably the best equipped of them. All 2009 Suzuki XL7s include automatic climate control, keyless entry, roof rails, and alloy wheels, while at the top of the range, the Limited brings many more features, such as power heated front seats, a touch-screen navigation system, a rearview camera, fog lamps, chrome wheels, and a premium sound system.
The Bottom Line:
A major redesign in 2007 transformed the Suzuki XL7 into a modern mid-size crossover with available seven-passenger seating. For 2009 the XL7 gains a six-speed automatic transmission that helps deliver an almost 10 percent increase in fuel economy.