With the launch of the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi, Suzuki is taking aim at the midsize sedan segment. More precisely, the smaller end of the midsize market, since the Kizashi yields several centimetres to its main rivals in wheelbase and overall length. It also stands out, for the time being at least, for the fact that it is offered only as a fully equipped model, with leather upholstery, four-wheel drive, a 2.4-litre engine, continuously variable transmission (CVT), etc.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Interior and trunk
Access to the front is relatively easy. The seats are very comfortable, with lumbar adjustment for the driver. Legroom is good but headroom is very limited for tall people, whose head is up against the ceiling. The driving position is good. Rear access is made more difficult by the rather narrow door openings. The bench seat, with its rather high cushion, is comfortable for two adults. Headroom and legroom are adequate for all but tall people. The seatback is split 60/40, and there is a small ski pass-through in the 60-section. Folding both sides reveals an opening to the trunk that is a bit narrow and that lacks height. The seatback folds a few centimetres higher than the floor of the trunk, sloping up towards the front. Luggage space is good and the trunk lid opening is relatively large. You have to be careful of the hinges, which can crush things placed underneath.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Safety Features
The interior is carefully finished in good-quality materials. Except for engine noise in average acceleration and above, sound suppression is efficient. Cabin storage is good. Gauges and instruments are well laid out and everything is illuminated at night. The climate control system is efficient. You have to choose between the odometer reading and the outside temperature reading in the information display, which denotes a rather basic design.  For the time being, the Kizashi is offered with a choice of just four paint colours (silver, red, black, white) and one colour, charcoal grey, inside. Needless to say, that’s pretty basic. It’s also surprising that blue is not available, as it is quite a popular colour.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi

Standard equipment includes eight airbags (two front, four side and two curtain), four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, five head restraints, and good headlights. Visibility is very good on all sides, except on a three-quarter-rear angle. In U.S. government tests, the Kizashi obtained five stars out of five for the protection of front occupants in a frontal impact, and for all occupant protection in a side crash. It earned four stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Kizashi an Acceptable rating, its second highest, for roof strength, and a Good rating, its highest, for the protection of all occupants in a side or a rear impact.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Engine and Transmission
The 2.4-litre 4-cylinder produces 180 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration and pickup are more what you’d expect from a subcompact than from a midsize car, with performance lacking in vigour and conviction. The engine is noisy in average acceleration and above. The CVT transmission is usually smooth but becomes abrupt when reaccelerating after releasing the throttle. Manual mode is relatively quick.
The Kizashi is a front-wheel drive equipped with a four-wheel-drive system that the driver can activate with a push of a button on the dash. In ordinary driving, the system splits power 95:5 front to rear, but by analysing steering-wheel angle and throttle position, it can transfer up to 50% of power to the rear wheels.

2011 Suzuki Kizashi

2011 Suzuki Kizashi On the Road
The four-wheel independent suspension tuning blends firmness and suppleness to provide a comfortable ride that is a bit on the firm side. On uneven pavement the reaction can be firm, but not stiff or harsh. In combination with the Kizashi’s rigid platform, this rather firm suspension delivers very good road holding, actively assisted by P235/45R18 tires that will also be costly to replace. The power steering is a tad heavy but stable, precise and relatively quick. The brakes are powerful and resist well to fade.

The 2011 Kizashi is basically a good car, comfortable, pleasant to drive and roomier inside than you’d expect, given its exterior dimensions. However, price, limited colour choice, modest engine performance and the availability of just one model, for the time being, will probably turn off some buyers. Suzuki has already announced that a sport model with a manual transmission is on the way, but they’ll have to offer other, less equipped versions and front-wheel drive to allow the Kizashi to compete more adequately with its rivals, all of which are available in a wider choice of models and trims.

PROS: front comfort, ride, road holding, handling, standard equipment, fit and finish

CONS: headroom (tall people), small opening behind folding seatback, only one model, modest power, noisy in average acceleration and above, openings under front bumper.

Engine: 16-valve, 2.4-litre 4-cylinder
: 180 hp at 6,500 rpm
Torque: 170 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm
Transmission: automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Suspension: fully independent
Brakes: disc/disc
Wheelbase: 270 cm
Length: 465 cm
Width: 182 cm
Height: 148 cm
Weight: 1,620 kg
Tires: P235/45R18
Maximum towing capacity: not recommended
Airbags: dual front, plus four side and two curtain airbags

Fuel consumption:
- Natural Resources Canada rating:
City 9.3 L/100 km (30 mpg) Highway 6.8 L/100 km (42 mpg)
- Test result: 9 L/100 km (31 mpg) Test temperature: 13°C to 27°C
CO2 emissions: 3,924 kg/20,000 km
Fuel tank capacity: 63 litres
Fuel requirement: regular grade gasoline
0–100 km/h: 10.2 seconds 60–100 km/h: 7.3 seconds
Competition: Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis, Mazda6, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat


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