Review: 2012 Suzuki Kizashi
Driving the best-kept secret in the mid-size class.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: November 29th, 2011
When you tell people that your ride for the week is a Suzuki Kizashi sedan, the response is usually something along the lines of “Suzuki what now?”This despite the fact that it’s been on sale in this country since 2009. The poor Kizashi—forgotten kid in the crowded mid-size class.
Which is really too bad, since the Kizashi actually isn’t all that forgettable. It has swoopy styling, sporty intentions, and an unusual moniker. All that should help it stand out from the Accords and Camrys of the world.
Yet the Kizashi gets lost in the shuffle, in part because of its small-ish dimensions and rear seat (more on that later), and in part because Suzuki is still one of the smallest full-line automakers, offering just a handful of models.
Features & Prices
Those who aren’t in the know are missing out on one of the sportier mid-sizers. The Kizashi can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a manual transmission is available on front-drive models. Opting for the manny-tranny adds five more horsepower from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder (the sole engine choice) to bring the total to 185 (Kizashis equipped with the continuously-variable automatic transmission check in at 180 horsepower).
Available trims include S, SE, Sport GTS, and Sport SLS, and our tester was a manual-transmissioned Sport GTS. Standard equipment included 18-inch wheels, traction control, ABS, an anti-skid system, keyless entry and starting, dual-zone climate, sport seats with cloth, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, split rear seats, a Rockford/Fosgate audio system with a CD player, 10 speakers, a USB port, and an auxiliary port; front fog lamps; an aero package; sport wheels; a sport suspension; and sporty steering wheel design. Base price: $22,249. Options included premium floor mats and cargo mats ($210), Bluetooth ($250), and a trunk organizer with first-aid kit ($65). There was no destination fee, so the as-tested total came to $22,774.
What that gets is an underdog with a lot of moxie. As mentioned above, the Kizashi won’t stand out in a sea of Accords, Altimas, and Camrys. But those who do sacrifice size and some features will be pleased with the Kizashi’s attitude. The stick shifts swiftly with purpose, the clutch feels just about right, and the handling will bring a smile to the face of those who don’t want to equate “mid-size” with “boring.”
The styling is easy on the eyes, too—the Kizashi competes with the Hyundai Sonata for best dressed in the mid-size class, and a few of the interior materials look a bit upscale for this price point. The cabin isn’t the best in the class—far from it—but it’s above and beyond what one might expect at this dollar amount.
Acceleration is fine for urban driving but we’d like a bit more grunt (as always) and we’d prefer a little less buzziness from the drivetrain, which seems like it’s always working hard, even when it’s not. At first, this gives the driver a sense of engagement, but it can get tiring on longer drives.
Other flaws? On occasion, the otherwise fine gearbox refused entry into first gear, and the rear seat could use some more legroom. The trunk may be spacious, but the opening could be bigger.
Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway for this particular trim, and we averaged 21.7 mpg in a combo of urban and highway driving.
For shoppers on a budget, the Kizashi has a lot to offer, and drivers with an enthusiast bent also owe it to themselves to take a look. If you need lots of space, you might want to shop elsewhere, but for budget-priced fun with a dash of styling verve, this little upstart is making a nice name for itself.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi, click here: 2012 Suzuki Kizashi.