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#16

in 2010 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $5,808 - $9,745
Original MSRP: $13,359 - $19,999
MPG: 22 City / 30 Hwy
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2010 Suzuki SX4 Performance

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

The 2010 Suzuki SX4 is ahead of the curve for offering standard all-wheel drive on some of its higher level trims, which makes it a good choice for those who have to deal with winter weather. It offers good handling and zippy acceleration with the manual transmission. Nonetheless, its low fuel economy rating and troublesome CVT cause some reviewers to pause.

  • "Wind noise is modest, and there's little thumping over bumps. The engine sounds coarse and unrefined, especially during full-throttle acceleration. The CVT whines and groans, making it tiresome even for short commutes." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While on the autocross, we found the engine to be extremely peppy with either the new six-speed manual or optional CVT delegating power, replacing the SX4's previous five-speed manual and four-speed automatic gearboxes." -- Motor Trend
  • "All in all, its handling is its best attribute, but even that isn't competitive with the best the segment has to offer." -- Cars.com
  • "Slalom: I almost didn't have enough room to get up to speed, but what a well balanced and fun car to drive. Using the throttle in and out worked well to rotate the car that never threatened to understeer. Planted and predictable with little roll or bump steer." -- Edmunds
  • "With each dive into a turn, the car showed just a little understeer, which was quickly corrected with a little extra power from the engine. The front wheels dug in and pulled the car through, at least when we had the CVT set correctly beforehand. In drive mode, the transmission wouldn't give us enough power, but the manual modes virtual third gear would usually do the trick." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The SX4 offers a fun ride with the manual transmission, with good initial acceleration, although it is a bit slow getting up to speed. Many reviewers complain about the new CVT option though, saying that it has a delayed response time when you hit the gas. 

All SX4 models come with the same four-cylinder engine, which has been upgraded for 2010 to put out 150 horsepower when paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission, which is also new to the line-up. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is also new for 2010 and is available on SX4 Sport SE and GTS sedan trims, Sportback GTS trim and the Technology and Touring Crossover models. Prices for the CVT upgrade have not yet been announced.

The EPA rates the SX4 as having a fuel economy of 23/33 mpg city/highway, which isn’t terrible but it is below the class average. Fuel economy ratings for the various trims decrease from there. The all-wheel drive crossover model gets the worst fuel economy of all at 23/29 mpg, which puts it squarely among the lowest rated cars in the class. Still, for an AWD model, the rating is about average. The Subaru Impreza is one of the only other vehicles in the class to offer AWD.

  • "While not a purpose-built track-rat, the SportBack definitely handled its own on the circuit. Aim for a corner, blip the throttle, engage in some heel-toe downshift action, dial in the disc brakes, and be prepared to gently roll into the turn with mild understeer." -- Motor Trend
  • "The CVT is far from my favorite: Dig into the gas, and it takes too long to get power in return. At least when you get there it has ample acceleration, though the engine doesn't sound refined in the process." -- Cars.com
  • "We found both body styles fun to drive with the manual transmission, though the gearshift throws are a little long and rubbery. The SX4 could do with a sixth gear as we found ourselves wanting to up shift several times as we drove on straight highways and freeways. Around the twisty bits, however, just shifting through the gate between second, third and fourth gear was fine." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Only sedans with the CVT have been made available for Consumer Guide testing so far. So equipped, these SX4s are not slow, however they lack the immediate throttle response of previous versions equipped with the conventional 4-speed automatic transmission. The CVT on one test model suffered from bogging on deceleration, creating the impression that the car would stall upon coming to a complete stop. The CVT's manual override improves response somewhat." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers enjoy the nimble handling and composed ride of the SX4, and especially appreciate its excellent brakes. All-wheel drive models are also considered a bargain for those living in areas where winter weather can make roads treacherous.

  • "All-wheel-drive models grip much better on slippery surfaces, and the AWD system can help stabilize the handling even on a dry road. The sedan lacks all-wheel drive, but its lower ride height and tauter suspension make it more nimble than the Crossover." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Quick, nicely weighted steering and stable cornering make SX4 feel nimble despite moderate body roll and grip in fast turns. Brake-pedal action is firm and progressive on all SX4s. The turning radius is surprisingly (and disappointingly) large for a vehicle with such tidy dimensions." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Wow. Incredible grip that didn't wane as laps piled on. Steering could be better at transmitting information, but it's reasonably precise." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering has a nice weight, meaning it's not overly power-assisted to the point of being twitchy on the highway, nor does it require too much effort at slow speeds. It's also precise, meaning you turn the steering wheel and the car goes exactly where you intend it to; there's no vagueness between turning the wheel and getting a response." -- Cars.com
  • "Getting the SX4 SportBack into the hills lets the car show its impressive handling characteristics. Although it uses a torsion bar suspension in the rear, Suzuki has fitted the SX4 SportBack with antiroll bars front and rear, and performance shocks. A lower ride height also helps it in the corners." -- CNET

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