First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
2007 Suzuki XL7. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jim Kerr

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McKellar, Ontario – I didn’t have to drive very many kilometres in Suzuki’s new 2007 XL7 to appreciate this new crossover vehicle. It was quiet, it was tight, and it goes. It is also the largest Suzuki to enter the market: the XL7 holds seven adults in a mid-size package.

Built at the GM/Suzuki CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, the XL7 is a product of a long-term joint venture between the two companies. In the past, vehicles such as the Chevy Metro and the Suzuki Swift and the Chevy Tracker and the Suzuki Sidekick have been built side by side at CAMI. The XL7 shares some of GM’s design characteristics of the Chevrolet Equinox, but Suzuki has put their own styling, engineering and packaging into this vehicle to give it a character of its own.

From the outside, the basic body outline is similar to the Equinox, but the XL7 has a different-looking hood, fenders, side panels and lighting. The diamond-shaped projector headlights provide a distinctive look so you won’t mistake the XL7 for other vehicles on the road. Flared fenders and dark rocker panels and front valence give it a more adventurous look, and the downward slope of the window beltline from the rear quarter to the hood give an air of urgency to the XL7.

First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
2007 Suzuki XL7. Click image to enlarge

The aggressive styling is matched by the powertrain. A five-speed
automatic gearbox sends power to the front wheels, while all-wheel drive models incorporate a transfer case that sends power to an electronically-controlled rear axle. This axle is a bigger version of the unit found in Suzuki’s SX-4 hatchback, and has clutches that engage the rear drive as soon as wheel spin is detected or anticipates wheel slippage by monitoring throttle angles. The system provides great balance on slippery roads and gravel surfaces. There is no low range in the transfer case, so this isn’t a hardcore off-road vehicle, but it should work well in cottage country or on slippery winter roads.

Suzuki went to the GM parts bin for the engine: Cadillac no less! A 3.6-litre DOHC V6 with variable cam timing similar to the V6 powerplants found under the hood of a Cadillac CTS or STS. Needless to say, it is quick. We didn’t run any acceleration tests but passing vehicles on the highway took only a few seconds. The engine puts out 252 horsepower but the strong acceleration comes from the abundant 243 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the variable cam timing, this torque peaks at only 2300 rpm and stays high over a broad rpm range. The power is there when you need it at normal driving speeds.

Full throttle acceleration is accompanied by a throaty roar from the air intake, but the dual-tipped exhaust note remains quiet inside the cabin. The only other sound is from the air rushing past the front a-pillars. The transmission downshifts rapidly and smoothly during acceleration, but you only notice this if you are watching the
tachometer. Otherwise it is almost imperceptible. The manual or sport shift mode on the XL7 reacts fairly quickly to driver requests, but after playing with it a bit, I would leave it in Drive mode for most situations expect perhaps downhill grades while pulling a trailer. The XL7 has a 1587 kg (3500 lb) towing capacity, so you can take your boat along with you to the lake.

Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard equipment, as is traction control and stability control.

First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
2007 Suzuki XL7. Click image to enlarge

The XL7 feels very stable and balanced on the road even when pushed into a few corners a quickly, but it is nice to know those safety features are there. In addition, rollover sensing is standard on all XL7 vehicles. Sensors monitor the vehicle’s angle and rate of roll and apply brake force to reduce roll forces in the vehicle. Side curtain airbags help protect all passengers in the event of a rollover.

Inside, the XL7 has a look of quality and refinement. Fit and finish is excellent throughout. The plastic dash panels have a tooled-leather texture that sets them a step above many other plastic dashes, and the finish on the top of the dash minimizes reflections in the steeply slanted windshield. The leather seats on the JXL model are soft and comfortable, with the driver’s side having power four-way adjustment but a manual recline. Heated seats are standard on this model.

First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
First Drive: 2007 Suzuki XL7 suzuki first drives
2007 Suzuki XL7. Click image to enlarge

Automatic climate control, rear sear climate control, steering wheel controls for audio and cruise, power sunroof, and the integrated Navigation and Bose audio system are but a few of the interior features. The Navigation system electronics are right from GM and are intuitive to use other than the voice controls. No matter what command I gave the system, it wouldn’t understand me, but then I have this problem on GM vehicles too.

Passenger space is excellent for both the front and second row occupants. The third row is definitely smaller, but my six-foot two-inch body would still fit there with just enough head room and my knees a little sideways. I wouldn’t want to travel across country back there, but across town would be fine. The fold and flip second row seats enable good access to the third row, but you need to fold it from the side lever and then reach to the rear to flip it up. I would prefer to do this using only one release.

The rear seats fold flat for cargo room after removing the headrests and storing them in a shallow rear compartment. The split/bench second row also folds although not quite flat, and the front passenger seat folds forward to accommodate eight-foot long loads inside. Suzuki claims there are more than 175 seat positions. I wasn’t about to prove them wrong.

The XL7 comes in JX and JXL trim levels in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The JXL AWD models also have a Navi package and/or DVD entertainment package available. Base price for the JX FWD model is $30,995 and the JXL is $33,995. Add $2000 to each of these if you want the AWD versions. The DVD entertainment package is $800 on top of a JXL AWD model and the top of the line JXL AWD with Navi version comes in at $37,995. Shipping and delivery charges are $1,295.


At a glance: 2007 Suzuki XL7

  • Price range: $30,995-$33,995
  • Price as Tested: JLX AWD with Navi: $37,995 plus $1,295 Destination & Delivery
  • Engine: 3.6 litre DOHC V6
  • Horsepower: 252 @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque: 243 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm
  • Transmission: Five speed automatic
  • Fuel Economy: FWD: City: 12.9 L/100 km; Hwy: 9.0 L/100 km; AWD: City: 13.5 L/100 km; Hwy: 9.5 L/100 km


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