2009 Suzuki SX4 Wagon Performance
The 2009 Suzuki SX4 has decent performance that's hampered by its chubby curb weight. While reviewers like the little crossover's all-wheel drive system, they recognize that the system adds weight, taxes the engine and hurts fuel economy. Most reviewers recommend it for buyers who do a lot of around-town, not highway, driving.
- The SX4 is a "genuinely competent recreational vehicle, one that offers ... a solid chassis and an adequate engine." -- Road and Track
- "Ride, acceleration and handling: The SX4 performs beautifully in all three categories in city driving. But it has the finesse of a little pig on the highway." -- The Washington Post
Acceleration and Power
Under the hood the SX4 wagon has a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that puts out 143 horsepower. It's paired with a five-speed manual transmission, and a four-speed automatic is optional. The engine is adequate and even zippy at times, but it can be sluggish due to the wagon's hefty curb weight. The Crossover weighs in at 2,800 pounds with the manual transmission and 2,877 with the automatic. Although the SX4's engine is plenty adequate for city driving, it lacks power on highways and when merging or passing. Fuel economy also leaves most reviewers disappointed.
- "Is it perky enough for tooling around town at under 40 mph? Sure. It's when you need a little more oomph that the SX4 falls short. Merging onto the freeway is an act of bravery. Zero to 60? Um, eventually." -- Edmunds
- "The big engine, low gearing and the weight of the all-wheel-drive system ... takes its toll on mileage." But a few reviewers give the Crossover the benefit of the doubt. --About.com
- "Competitors do better" in terms of fuel economy, but they "also have less power" than the SX4 Crossover. -- Newsday
- "When matched with the five-speed manual transmission my test vehicle felt 'zippy' if not outright speedy." --Cars.com
- The automatic transmission does "a fine job in mixed city and highway driving." -- The New York Times
Handling and Braking
The SX4 handles enjoyably well despite its hefty weight. The ride is typical for its class -- neither too rough nor butter-smooth. Reviewers are pleased with the SX4 wagon's maneuverability and steering, but its braking performance gets mixed reviews.
- + "The SX4 is fun to drive. Its steering is quick and it has nimble handling with a wide track, fairly large 16-inch wheels and front/rear anti-sway bars. The ride is comfortable, despite the lack of an independent rear suspension, and the brakes allow short stops." --MSN
- "Predictable and easy to control, especially considering it has a live rear axle. Anti-roll bars at both ends keep the car from leaning too much during turns, while the suspension does a commendable job of soaking up potholes and other road irregularities." Road and Track
- The steering is "quick, nicely weighted." -- Consumer Guide
- "The trim, little SX4 was a breeze getting into and out of parking spaces, particularly parallel parking spots in congested downtown ... And I never hesitated to make a U-turn." -- The Orlando Sentinel
- "Good and bad credit is due to the all-wheel-drive system, which helps grip but adds weight, and extra pounds hurt braking and acceleration." -- Car and Driver
- "Its brake pedal response isn't as firm as in a Honda, but it is above average and adds to the overall feel that this is a substantial car to drive." -- Cars.com
Reviewers are pleased that the SX4 wagon has three-mode Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (i-AWD), which comes standard on both trims. Essentially every reviewer points out the good value and uniqueness of the system. In fact, several say the SX4 Crossover offers standard AWD for less money than any other car on the market.
The three-mode system is operated via a rocker switch next to the parking brake. It features a 2WD position for everyday front-wheel driving on paved roads -- and for achieving maximum fuel economy. For traction in slippery and snowy conditions, the i-AWD Auto position supplies 0 to 50 percent of the engine power to the front and rear axles. A third position, i-AWD Lock, is meant for severe weather and sends 30 to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels. Once the SX4 Crossover hits 36 miles per hour, Lock mode automatically switches back to i-AWD Auto. Note that the SX4 Crossover lacks low-range gearing and is not intended for off-road use. Still, on slick roads, most reviewers say this system is highly capable.
- "If you get blasted by a snowstorm, it's got your back . . . At the test track our best runs through the slalom (62.8 mph) and skid pad courses (0.77g) are good for a subcompact, and were achieved using the auto AWD mode which increased driver control through these extreme exercises." -- Edmunds
- "I pushed it on the new snow in the automatic mode with no perceptible wheel spin." --The Auto Channel