The Suzuki Kizashi (view photos) is the best car on the market that consumers aren’t buying. Considering that people normally associate “Suzuki” with motorcycles, ATVs, rugged SUVs, and very strange looking or utterly forgettable small cars, this should not be surprising. A capable sport sedan with convincing luxury aspirations is dramatically different from anything the company has tackled before. Suzuki dealers are also few and far between, making it difficult for the Kizashi to catch a buyer’s eye when he or she is trolling through the local auto mall. And then there’s the matter of its name, hard for people to say and spell even if it is memorable. These are the hurdles facing the impressive Kizashi, a fun and affordable family four-door that surprises and delights in so many ways.
About Our Test Car
Suzuki sells the Kizashi in four different trim levels equipped with front- or all-wheel drive. The Kizashi S comes in white or silver paint colors, carrying a base price of $19,744. We strongly recommend upgrading to the Kizashi SE ($22,774) for greater color choice plus standard cruise control, a better stereo, a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, and 18-inch alloy wheels. This model also comes standard with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). If you want to stick with a stick, the Kizashi Sport GTS ($23,644) includes SE equipment plus a power moonroof, a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate premium sound system, fog lights, special exterior trim, a sport suspension, and unique wheels. In exchange for $25,574, the Kizashi Sport SLS model provides leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power front passenger’s seat, automatic headlamp control, rain-sensing wipers, and rear parking sonar. For buyers who prefer not to row their own gears, the S, Sport GTS and Sport SLS are available with the same CVT that comes standard on the SE.
Our test car was the well-equipped Sport SLS with a manual transmission, dipped in Azure Gray Metallic paint. To the standard feature list, our car added XM satellite radio and a premium floor mat set, bringing the total sticker price to $25,919. Know what? This is the rare automobile that feels worth every penny of its suggested retail price.
Safety Reliability and Value
Suzuki endows the Kizashi with a standard safety package including stability control, traction control, and four-wheel-disc ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Eight airbags also come standard: dual front, dual side curtain, and quad side impact airbags. The Sport SLS model is the only one with reversing sonar and automatic rain-sensing wipers, but a reversing camera is included with the optional navigation system on both the Sport GTS and Sport SLS.
The result of all this safety gear is crashworthiness that’s just a Good roof crush strength rating away from a “Top Safety Pick,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In IIHS testing, the Kizashi received a Good rating in the offset frontal test, a Good rating in the side impact test, and a Good rating for rear crash protection. Because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revised its testing procedures for 2015, no data is available from the government agency as this article is written.
Data on quality and reliability is also lacking. J.D. Power and Associates gives the Kizashi (view photos) a below average predicted reliability rating, but that’s based on the performance of all Suzuki models in recent years, some of which have been real duds. Consumer Reports does not predict how the Kizashi will fare in this regard, and neither does it offer an estimate how the car will retain its value over time.
For that data, we turn to Automotive Lease Guide, which gives the Kizashi a four-star rating for depreciation, meaning it is expected to hold its value better than many vehicles. The Kizashi is also equipped with a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that transfers to new owners, but the standard warranty coverage and roadside assistance offer are modest at just three years and 36,000 miles.