2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport. Click image to enlarge

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Suzuki Canada

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2008 Suzuki SX-4

North Vancouver, British Columbia – When tall-but-small sedans like the subcompact Toyota Echo and the compact Suzuki Aerio first went on sale in Canada at the beginning of this decade, their tall bodystyles and tiny wheels looked rather odd, even comical. Actually, their tires and wheels weren’t any smaller than those of other small cars, but the cars’ tall height made them look small.

Though at first derided, these tall, small cars started a trend which continues to this day. Most small sedans now are much taller, with larger doors and higher seat cushions for easier entry and exit, more headroom for driver and passengers, and increased trunk space.

Suzuki replaced the Aerio sedan with the SX-4 sedan in 2008 and although it still has a tall roof height and a narrow body, it offers larger tires and a sportier appearance, particularly the uplevel SX-4 Sport model – this week’s test car – with its 17-inch tires, alloy wheels, and ‘aero’ bodywork.

2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport. Click image to enlarge

Thanks to its tall body, the SX-4 sedan offers the most interior room in the compact sedan class: 104 cubic feet (2.94 cu. m) and the largest trunk in its class: 439 litres (15.5 cu. ft.).

Even though it was all-new in 2008, the SX-4 sedan adds a few noteworthy features for 2009: the most useful is split folding rear seatbacks – last year’s sedan didn’t have them because Suzuki thought buyers who wanted more cargo space would choose the SX-4 hatchback model. Turns out sedan buyers like practicality too!

The other changes to the sedan for 2009 are new folding inboard armrests on the front seats, and a new storage pocket on the back of the front passenger seat. SX-4 Sedan Sport models also receive new heated front seats and a new “Smartpass” keyless entry and start system that essentially allows the driver to leave the ignition key in their pocket or purse all the time.

As before, the 2009 Suzuki SX-4 sedan features a 143-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission or optional four-speed automatic. While SX-4 hatchbacks are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, all sedans are front-wheel drive only.

Pricing and equipment

The base price of the 2009 SX-4 sedan is $17,395, an increase of $200 over the 2008 base model. The 2009 SX-4 sedan Sport starts at $19,345, a $350 increase over last year’s Sport. As well, Suzuki’s Freight and Destination charge has been increased to $1,395 from $1,250. On the Sport model, that’s a total price increase of $495. Still, when you count the new additions for 2009, the price jump doesn’t seem unreasonable.

2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport. Click image to enlarge

Standard equipment on the base SX-4 sedan is quite generous: air conditioning, power windows with driver’s auto down feature, power door locks with remote unlocking, power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA stereo with four speakers and pre-wiring for XM satellite radio, tilt steering wheel, tachometer, variable intermittent wipers, side and curtain airbags, 15-inch tires and steel wheels, and a block heater. The only option is a four-speed automatic transmission ($1,100).

The SX-4 Sport sedan adds 17-inch all-season tires and alloy wheels, front fog lights, a body kit that includes front and rear valances and side skirts, automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated mirrors, in-dash 6-CD changer and four additional speakers including a subwoofer, audio and cruise controls on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote trunk release, and “Smartpass” keyless entry and keyless start.

For safety, all SX-4 sedans have front, side and curtain airbags, five three-point seatbelts, five head restraints and rear door child locks, three rear tether anchors and two rear ISO-FIX attachments for child seats. Anti-lock brakes with (emergency) Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution are standard.

A notable omission is electronic stability control which is not offered on the sedan even though it is available on the top-of-the-line SX-4 JLX hatchback. In the U.S., stability control is available on the top-of-the-line SX-4 sedan, as well as navigation and Bluetooth hands-free telephone which also aren’t available here.

Interior impressions
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport. Click image to enlarge

With its tall roof and big doors, the SX-4 sedan is easy to get in to and out of for both front and rear passengers. The rear seat has three rear seatbelts and three head restraints, but it’s more comfy for two adults. Front and rear headroom is abundant while rear legroom is quite roomy with generous footroom under the front seats. All the occupants sit up tall, chair-like, and the driver’s position offers easy access to controls and good visibility for the driver. My only complaint is that some of the radio buttons are too small. The front seat is not height adjustable but as headroom is not a concern and the steering wheel is height adjustable, most drivers will find it comfortable. Still, a telescopic steering wheel would help those with shorter arms.

2009 SX-4 Sedan Sport models come with front seat heaters which are very comforting when you first get into a cold car and the heater hasn’t had time to warm up. However, there’s only one temperature setting which feels too hot if left on more than ten minutes.

The quality of the SX-4’s interior materials is very good for an economy car. I particularly liked the black two-tone woven cloth seats, the integrated silver trim on the dash, steering wheel, shift knob and shift gate surround; and the grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel. The clean, uncluttered design of the instrument panel is also a refreshing change from some of the trendy dashboards seen in small cars these days.

The SX-4 Sedan Sport comes equipped with Suzuki’s “Smartpass” keyless entry and start system. It wasn’t that long ago only luxury cars offered this feature, and I’m quite impressed that Suzuki can offer this sophisticated feature in a sub-$20,000 car. Basically, the key fob sends recognition codes to the car as you approach it. The driver simply presses a black button on the inside of the door handle to unlock it and once inside, turns the ignition on the column without inserting the key to start the car. When getting out of the car, the driver presses a black button on the door handle to lock the car. The ignition key never has to be used. This is more useful than you think – men don’t have to search their pockets for the car keys and women don’t have to fumble around in their purse.

The new inboard folding armrests on the front seats are also a great idea for resting your arm while cruising down the freeway. With a manual transmission however, the driver’s armrest needs to be folded up when shifting gears.

A red information display in the upper instrument panel includes a clock, outside temperature gauge, fuel consumption readout, and fuel range indicator. Again, this feature is not found on most economy cars.

The Sport sedan includes an in-dash 6-CD changer and eight speakers including a subwoofer; some audio and cruise controls are located on the steering wheel spokes for ease of use while driving. However, an auxiliary input jack for i-Pods is a $130 accessory. The radio’s sound quality is above-average for the type of car.

There are two cupholders in the front with spring-loaded cup grippers, and one cupholder at the rear; bottle holders are found in all four door pockets. Storage spaces are limited: the glovebox, an open bin under the heater, a small bin at the bottom of the centre stack next to a 12-volt outlet, and door pockets. There is no storage bin between the front seats.

Nobody beats the SX-4 sedan when it comes to trunk space. The huge fully lined trunk at 439 litres (15.5 cu. ft.) is the largest in the compact class. And the new folding rear seatbacks add versatility, although with the seatbacks folded down, the seats aren’t level with the trunk floor. Unlike in the SX-4 hatchback, the sedan’s rear seats will not fold and tumble.

Driving impressions
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
2009 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport. Click image to enlarge

I found the 2009 SX-4 Sedan Sport to be a comfortable, adequately powered compact sedan, but not exactly sporty. The 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine puts out a respectable 143 horsepower at 5800 r.p.m. and 136 lb-ft of torque at 3500 r.p.m. Independent acceleration tests by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) show a 0 to 100 km/h run in 9.3 seconds – quicker than the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but not quite as quick as the Honda Civic, according to AJAC tests.

The SX-4 is quick off the line, but feels weak when merging onto the freeway. The engine is buzzy on acceleration, but at highway speeds it settles down to a comfortable hum. With the automatic transmission, the engine turns over 2,400 r.p.m. at 100 km/h.

The SX-4’s fuel consumption ranks near the bottom of its class. Fuel consumption figures issued by Natural Resources Canada Energuide (with the automatic transmission) are 9.2/6.7 L/100 km (31/42 mpg) city/hwy, but I averaged about 9.4 L/100 km (30 mpg Imp.) in a week of mostly city driving. The onboard average fuel consumption readout was showing 9.0 L/100 km (31 mpg Imp.).

The optional four-speed automatic transmission is very smooth and the shift gate allows the driver to manually shift down from 4th to 3rd by tapping the gear lever to the left. I wasn’t impressed with the user-friendliness of the zig-zag shift gate though.

The SX-4’s ride is firm but comfortable with good manoeuvrability, a tight turning circle (10.6 metres/34.8 ft.), low steering effort when parking, decent grip in the wet and dry from its standard Dunlop SP Sport 205/50R17-inch all-season radials, and a firm braking response from the standard front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS and Brake Assist. Braking tests conducted by AJAC show a 100 km/h to 0 distance of 41.9 metres (137.5 ft.) which is very good in its class.

As mentioned, electronic stability control is not available on the SX-4 sedan. Given that it is available in the U.S., I don’t see why this important safety feature shouldn’t be available here.

The SX-4’s driving position includes an upright seating position, a meaty leather-wrapped steering wheel, a large footrest for the left foot, and large windows for good visibility. I found that the large front quarter windows help forward vision when making a 90-degree turn, but the thick padding on the left window pillar obscures visibility through the left quarter window from some angles. The trunklid height is high making reversing into a parking spot somewhat difficult, but I liked the fact that all three rear head restraints can be lowered flush with the top of the rear seatback.

Verdict

A roomy, comfortable sedan that feels bigger than its compact classification, the Suzuki SX-4 is easy to drive and nicely finished inside. Criticisms include not-the-best fuel economy and lack of electronic stability control.

Pricing: 2009 Suzuki SX-4 sedan

Base price: $19,345
Options: $ 1,100 (four-speed automatic transmission)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $ 1,395
Price as tested: $21,940
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2009 Suzuki SX-4

    Related articles on Autos
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  • Test Drive: 2008 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan base
  • Test Drive: 2008 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan
  • Test Drive: 2008 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan Sport
  • Test Drive: 2007 Suzuki SX-4 JLX AWD
  • Test Drive: 2007 Suzuki SX-4 AWD
  • Test Drive: 2007 Suzuki SX-4 FWD
  • Day-by-Day Review: 2008 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan
  • Day-by-Day Review: 2007 Suzuki SX-4

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    Manufacturer’s web site
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