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Suzuki Kizashi Detroit to Chicago - The Back Way - Follow Us!

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

Last summer, editors of Motor Trend Magazine drove a pair of 2010 Suzuki Kizashi sedans from Tokyo to LA "The Hard Way" – covering more than 7,500 miles across Japan, Russia, Canada and the US. The goal of that trip was to test the Kizashi over some of the toughest roads in the world (many of which can only be called “roads” in the most generous sense of the word). With the exception of endurance tires and skid plates to protect from rock damage, the Hard Way Kizashis were completely stock, with standard 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and optional all-wheel drive and CVT automatic transmission.

The end result was that (spoiler alert!) the Kizashis made it safely to L.A., dirty but unscathed. Since then Suzuki has asked other journalists to continue challenging these same cars with additional road trips. Our own David Boldt drove one of the Hard Way Kizashis from LA to Seattle – the Gentler Way. The idea is to see whether the Kizashi can take a licking and keep on ticking. If it’s still solid and reliable after 7,500 miles of abject punishment, it can probably handle the average driver’s daily commute.

Since most of the cars we test at AutoTrader.com are fresh off the assembly line, we rarely get to see what happens once a brand new model has experienced some wear and tear. So when the opportunity arose to drive one of the Hard Way Kizashis from Detroit to Chicago, we jumped at the chance.

As we explored in our recent review of the 2011 Kizashi, its attractive styling, comfortable interior, premium features, available all-wheel drive and competitive pricing make the Kizashi an intriguing alternative to typical midsize sedans. But all of that would be diminished if it develops annoying rattles or more serious issues during the first few years of ownership. The Hard Way Kizashis have packed years of abuse into a very short period, which should give us a sneak peek into how they hold up over the long haul.

The drive from Detroit to Chicago is just five hours across I-94. But that’s not the way we’re going. No offense to Mr. Boldt, but anyone can drive a car in the gentle caress of a modern interstate. To really put the Kizashi through its paces requires something a bit more challenging. So we’re going the back way.

Our plan is to head from Detroit to Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Then we’ll cut across to Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. From there we’ll head down to South Bend, Indiana. We’ll go from there to Valpairaiso before finally heading up through the southern suburbs of Chicago and into downtown.

Of course all of this was mapped out before the winter storm of the century dumped up to three feet of snow on the exact area we’re headed into. So some of this is subject to change based on the conditions we find when we get there. The Kizashi’s all-wheel drive should definitely come in handy.

If you're interested in following along, the drive starts this Monday morning, February 7. We’ll be posting updates on AutoTrader’s Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day with the hashtag #kizashibackway. We’ll post a detailed report along with some videos on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Suzuki Kizashi Detroit to Chicago - The Back Way - Follow Us! - Autotrader