2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery: 2007 Suzuki XL7

Second opinion by Grant Yoxon

The relationship between Suzuki and General Motors has been a long and generally fruitful one, with the companies sharing products they make themselves (such as the Tracker and Vitara) and those sourced from partner companies (the Korean-built Chevrolet Aveo and Suzuki Swift+).

That partnership comes together again for the all-new 2007 XL7, a well-done vehicle that draws from the Chevrolet Equinox but maintains a presence all its own. Suzuki says that only about 20 per cent of its components come from the Equinox, most of them in the interior – if you’ve been in the Chevrolet, the Suzuki’s dash looks very familiar – but both vehicles are built at the shared CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.

The XL7 has pricing that ranges from $30,995 for a front-wheel drive model to my fully-loaded JLX AWD NAVI tester, at $37,995. All models have three rows of seats, for a total of seven spots.

The XL7 shares its platform with the Equinox and the Pontiac Torrent, but with its own distinct styling. I’m still not stuck on the front end – my husband commented that on a light-coloured XL7, the drooping lights with their darker triangles remind him of Alice Cooper’s makeup – but there’s no mistaking this vehicle from the front. The rear is more conventional, with a full swing-up liftgate.

2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi. Click image to enlarge

While the platform comes from Chevrolet, the 3.6-litre V6 used in all models is built in Japan but based on a Cadillac CTS block. It makes 252 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, and it’s very strong, with immediate throttle response that makes it a real pleasure to drive, especially in highway traffic when a quick shot of pedal is needed to get around any problems. Give it a kick and it responds with a deep snarl; it sounds very mechanical, and while that might not always be popular in this age of electronics, I found it extremely refreshing. In my week with it, I averaged 11.9 L/100 km, against its published average of 11.5 L/100 km.

The power spins out through a five-speed automatic in all models that can be pushed over to manual mode, should you want to feel like you’re rowing the gears yourself. The all-wheel drive, which starts at the $32,995 level, detects wheel slip and sends power to the rear axle when necessary.

There is a fair bit of undercarriage noise in the XL7 as the wheels work their way over uneven surfaces, but the ride overall is fairly soft. I took my tester on what must be the roughest terrain short of what the Mars Exploration Rover faced on the red planet: yes, good readers, I ventured into Detroit, Michigan. On the Fisher Freeway, which is barely distinguishable from the deliberately broken stretch at the nearby Proving Grounds where GM shake-tests its cars, the XL7 made a lot of noise but kept all but the worst of the vibrations from moving up into the cabin. Electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard (as are curtain airbags, but not side seat bags).

2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi. Click image to enlarge

There’s some body roll to this SUV, but overall it handles well, and doesn’t feel as big as it is – at least, until it’s time to park it, when its wide turning radius makes itself known. Nosing into tight spots usually meant having to straighten out halfway through and go at it again.

The seats stayed comfortable throughout my five-hour drive to Michigan, although I had to tip my leather seat back to avoid a sensation of sliding forward on the flat cushion. The JLX trim line is very handsome, with mostly soft-touch or textured materials and wood accents, although there were a couple of uneven gaps in the dash. My opinion on the controls was mixed: the heater controls are big and easy to use, but the window switches are awkwardly located on either side of the shifter, and the lock buttons need to be backlit.

I had no complaints about my tester’s combination satellite radio and navigation system, though; as when I’ve used it on GM vehicles, its touch screen is simple and intuitive, requiring almost no learning curve.

The second row of seating is very roomy and comfortable, and wouldn’t be a hardship on a long trip; as with almost all three-row SUVs, however, that final row is another story.

2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi; second-row seat photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

The rear doors open very wide for easier entry, but it’s too much work to access the third row: the second-row seatback flips down when you pull a lever, but you must then reach around it, find a strap on the back of it, and pull this strap to tumble the seat forward. Unlike the whiff-o-padding that passes for most third-row seats, the XL7’s are very comfortable on the butt, but there’s virtually no leg room: this is a seven-passenger in name only, unless you count small children.

You’re better off folding the rear seats flat, although you have to remove the head restraints to do so. Leave the seats up, and your cargo area is 38 cm long; fold the third row, and it’s 109 cm. Folding the second row gives you a 185-cm-long flat floor, but wait, there’s more: the front passenger seat also drops level, allowing you to carry items up to 284 cm long. That’ll let you bring home eight-foot boards with room for the hammer and nails.

In addition to the small item storage up front, the XL7 has a superb under-floor system as well: lift the floor behind the third row, and there’s a deep, three-part plastic cargo bin that keeps items secure and out of sight.

Overall, the XL7 is an impressive package. I like its strong performance, solid brakes, roomy and handsome interior, and the way it handles itself out on the road. This is a decent driver for the money, especially in the lower-end packages where you still get a lot of interior items for what you pay. Who knows – maybe even the Alice Cooper eyes will grow on me one day.

Second Opinion: Grant Yoxon

My XL7 test vehicle was a member of our group of long-term test compact SUVs (see Autos’s Long-term test report) and as such, my family and I had the opportunity to live with the Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD for an extended period this past winter. For the better part of two months, the Suzuki was our family’s main vehicle: and not by design, but by choice.

2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

When the weather is at its worst, the best advice is to stay home. But if you work in a hospital emergency room, as does my wife, staying home is not an option. At times, there were as many as four vehicles in our drive-way that could have been used, but while the Suzuki stayed with us, it was the foul weather vehicle of choice. A solid feel on the road, a product of both its size and its all-wheel drive system, inspired confidence behind the wheel. As most Canadians can appreciate, a vehicle that gets you where you need to go without unexpected surprises, is a keeper.

No one likes to get into a cold car on a cold morning and if time permits, most will let it warm up a bit before venturing out. But seat heaters that quickly warmed the behind and well before the cabin began to heat up made the morning get up and go a whole lot easier – and safer. A warm driver is a better driver.

2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi
2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD Navi; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

While the appeal of the XL7’s unique front end design is still a matter of debate, we appreciated the Suzuki’s large storage capacity, a third row seat that was available when we needed extra passenger room, extremely comfortable seats and surprisingly luxurious interior. It is difficult to find an SUV of any size priced at less the $40,000 with the equipment and luxury features – even a navigation system – included in the XL7 JLX.

Being based on the Chevrolet Equinox, the XL7 borrows interior pieces from the Chevy, including its unusual push button rear window washer and wiper controls. Located low in the center of the dash, behind the shift lever, operating the rear wiper is a real pain. Saturn puts these controls where they belong on its Equinox-based SUV, the Vue, on the wiper stalk. Suzuki should too.

During our time with the XL7 we did not experience any warranty or service issues, except a rear wiper blade that was coming apart and needed to be replaced.

Compared to the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Santa Fe, our other compact SUV long-term testers, the XL7 JLX is not as powerful as the RAV4 and not as well-rounded as the Hyundai Santa Fe, but it offers more luxury, better driver comfort and more useable interior space than either.

Pricing: 2007 Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD NAVI


  • Click here for complete specifications

Related stories on Autos


  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saturn Vue
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Toyota RAV4
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chevrolet Equinox
  • Buyer’s Guide 2007 Pontiac Torrent

Crash test results

Manufacturer’s web site

Connect with Autos.ca