For 2007, the Suzuki XL7 is completely redesigned and all-new, starting with the name, which drops the hyphen used on the previous XL-7.
Production switches from Japan to the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, where it’s built alongside the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent, but it shares only some 20 per cent of GM components, most of them in the interior.
Available as the JX or JLX, the XL7 uses a 3.6-litre V6 that is built in Japan but based on a Cadillac CTS block, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Both models are available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and have only seven-passenger seating.
Features on the JX include 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, air conditioning, rear heater/air conditioner, CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers and auxiliary input jack, cruise control, tilt wheel, floor mats, cloth seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic self-levelling halogen headlamps, fixed intermittent rear wiper/washer, variable intermittent wipers, privacy glass, black roof rails and tire pressure monitoring system.
The JLX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, subwoofer, wheel-mounted audio controls, satellite radio preparation, power sunroof, leather-wrapped wheel, compass, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated leather seats with six-way power driver’s adjustment, fog lamps, and silver and black roof rails.
The JLX AWD model can also be optioned with a navigation system or rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The XL7 has undergone numerous improvements: the engine is strong, the brakes are good, steering is tight and the vehicle feels very firmly planted. The third row of seats isn’t meant for all-day adult comfort, but it’s roomier than some; however, it’s difficult to access. First- and second-row passengers get plenty of legroom and headroom. The seats all fold to a flat cargo floor, and there is a lot of small-item space.
The ride is firm, but not unpleasantly so; the seating positions are tall and comfortable, but the wide rear pillars cut down on visibility. The angled-headlight styling is love-or-hate-it, but the interior is very well-done: once you’re inside, it all looks good.