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#12

in 2010 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,545 - $11,998
Original MSRP: $18,999 - $26,899
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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2010 Suzuki Kizashi Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Suzuki Kizashi carries just a four-cylinder engine -- hardly the stuff of sports car dreams. Yet many reviewers say it is the sportiest four-door car available for an affordable price. The key to its athleticism is its extraordinary suspension. Sprung like a sports car, the Kizashi offers a very firm ride, with extremely responsive steering. 

Reviewers aren’t universally impressed with the two available transmissions. Most recommend the six-speed manual, saying that the continuously variable transmission (which requires no shifting, like an automatic, but uses no actual gears) doesn’t offer drivers the same level of control. All-wheel drive is offered only with the CVT. If you’re interested in an AWD sedan but don’t want a CVT, the Subaru Legacy, Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are your only options in this price range.

  • “The Kizashi drives better than basically everything in its class.” -- Autoblog
  • “Of course, you'll never find a true sport sedan in the form of a front-wheel-drive midsize car with a $25K price tag, but the Kizashi offers a level of entertainment that has been refined out of most other midsize sedans.” -- Edmunds
  • "With a clever blend of smooth ride and competent handling, the Kizashi can be fun on roads that twist and turn, yet it doesn't beat up its occupants on broken surfaces. It has plenty of power and offers all-wheel drive.” -- New York Times
  • "How sporty it really is depends on what version you get." -- Cars.com
  • “OK, so the Kizashi is surprisingly fun to toss around a racetrack. But how is it on real roads…? Answer: the newest Suzuki handled imperfections on the scenic byways of North Carolina and Virginia very crisply, without transferring much turbulence to the occupants inside, and drove like the pleasant appliance that many midsize-car buyers desire." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

Every Kizashi comes with the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Rated for 185 horsepower, it is the strongest four-cylinder in its class -- but virtually every other affordable midsize car offers the option of a more powerful V6. Reviewers say the Kizashi gets up to speed quickly for a four-cylinder, but the performance emphasis is clearly on cornering rather than speed.

Two transmissions are available, and reviewers aren’t crazy about either one. A six-speed manual has its fans, since it offers a light clutch, and the control many driving enthusiasts seek. But, for a stick shift in a performance-oriented car, it has fairly long throws -- enough to disappoint some reviewers. 

The other option is a continuously variable transmission, which is a gearless transmission that operates like an automatic. The CVT is more fuel-efficient than the manual, and reviewers say that it responds quickly for a CVT -- but a manual-equipped Kizashi will still outrun it in a straight line. No traditional automatic is offered, but CVTs are becoming more common -- in this class, the Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy also use a CVT.

The Kizashi gets up to 23/30 mpg city/highway, while AWD versions earn up to 22/29.

  • "The Kizashi will reach 60 mph from a standstill in 7.5 seconds before its Akebono brakes haul it down. That's not remarkably quick, but straight lines aren't what the Kizashi does best.” -- Autoblog
  • "The 2.4-liter 4 with push-button ignition is rated at 185 horsepower and quickly reaches 30-mph launch speed, 50-mph cruising speed and the 80-mph mark needed to pass 18-wheelers or pace Camaros on the interstate. But the engine growls when pushed.” -- Chicago Tribune
  • “The Kizashi's six-speed manual transmission, which we highly recommend, shifts lightly and smoothly and is enjoyable to operate. The other transmission option is a paddleshifted continuously variable automatic, which is generally very sure of itself and is quick to respond to throttle inputs.” -- Automobile Magazine
  • “With the CVT, acceleration from a stop is leisurely, but is just short of lively once underway. Passing power is competitive with 4-cylinder rivals. Using the CVT's steering-wheel shift paddles improves transmission response.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "We suggest you stick with the stick unless you insist on all-wheel drive-which can be engaged or disengaged by a dash-mounted button-as it can only be had with the CVT." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Engineers skimped on engine choices with this car because they poured all of their available time and money into its remarkable handling. Autoblog notes, “You could step into the springs Suzuki has perched under the front of the Kizashi. They are seriously massive.” Technical language, discussing the finer points of the Kizashi’s five-point multi-link front suspension or the size of its shocks, is extremely uncommon in family car reviews -- but the Kizashi’s suspension is unlike that of any other family car. 

Reviewers love the result of all that technology, sometimes comparing the Kizashi’s handling to that of far more expensive cars. All-wheel drive, also a rarity at this price point, adds a lot of road grip to CVT-equipped Kizashis -- and the Suzuki is that only car in this price range with an off switch for the AWD, allowing drivers to choose between a more fuel-efficient front-wheel drive setup, or AWD for rough weather, as conditions dictate.

  • "Handling is crisp and composed overall, with little body lean in fast corners. Communicative steering is precise and well weighted. Available all-wheel drive increases Kizashi's road-holding capabilities." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's plenty of grip, the chassis is well balanced and the steering is well-weighted if a tad numb. Ride quality is on the firm side, but drivers used to European cars or sportier Japanese entries should find it suitably comfortable." -- Edmunds
  • “Suzuki's painstaking chassis work has produced a seriously nippy contestant in the midsize sedan league. The fact of the matter is that the Kizashi turns in better, resists roll with more determination, and exhibits way less understeer in exercises that call for rapid changes of direction than most of its competitors.” -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The steering, handling, and braking are all up to sport sedan task, offering the right combination of agility, compliance, and a good level of communication with the road. You won't confuse the Kizashi with an Audi S4, yet there's a precision to this setup that does feel expensive." -- Boston Globe

Next Steps: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi

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