in 2011 Hatchbacks

Avg. Price Paid: $7,715 - $11,151
Original MSRP: $13,499 - $19,249
MPG: 23 City / 33 Hwy
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2011 Suzuki SX4 Performance

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

The 2011 Suzuki SX4 offers all-wheel drive on the Crossover model, which is a great feature for those battling long winters. If all-wheel drive isn't necessary, you should consider other cars in the class that offer a lower price, better fuel economy ratings and identical, if not better performance. Among these are the Honda Fit, Kia Forte and Honda Civic.

  • "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
  • "In fact, bigger cars do better on the open road than the Sportback. The Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata all post better highway figures." -- 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

Automakers are fitting a lot of compacts with continuously variable transmissions (CVT) because they offer better fuel economy ratings. The Suzuki SX4 has a CVT, but reviewers aren’t thrilled with its performance. When the accelerator is pressed, the engine doesn’t release power quickly. It also sounds unrefined and hampers deceleration.

The CVT is optional on all body styles, but only on the upper trims. Regardless of transmission choice, all models come with a 2.0-liter engine that produces 150 horsepower with the manual transmission and 148 horsepower with the automatic.

Compared to other affordable small cars, fuel economy is poor for both transmissions. The EPA reports that the sedan equipped with an automatic nets 25/32 mpg city/highway and 23/33 mpg with the six-speed manual. Suzukis with all-wheel drive have lower ratings: 23/29 mpg with the automatic and 22/30 mpg with the manual. Compact cars that have high performance scores, but don’t compromise fuel economy include the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta.

  • "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
  • "We try out some fast starts in the SX4 SportBack, and find the CVT limiting the drama, giving the wheels enough power to get going, but not enough that they lose grip. And while initial acceleration feels sprightly, the SX4 SportBack takes a while to get to 60 mph." -- CNET
  • "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
  • "The car sounds and feels faster than it actually is. Longish shift throws, and the engine made a racket if shifted/clutched too quickly." -- Edmunds
  • "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 SX4’s nimble handling and composed ride, and appreciate its excellent brakes, especially on the Sportback model. All-wheel drive is available on the Crossover, which is a great feature if you live in a wintery region. The Subaru Impreza is the only other compact that offers all-wheel 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
  • "One feature that stood out was standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS (both ABS and electronic stability control are also standard). Though slight fade was evident, they honorably withstood a day of stomping from go-fast journalists in 90-degree SoCal weather." -- Motor Trend
  • "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
  • "Even with the sportier suspension, the ride was quite good, neither too hard nor too soft. If things get dicey, there are disc brakes all around." -- MarketWatch

Next Steps: 2011 Suzuki SX4

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