History/Description: This is the other, other compact hatch and sedan team. Though Suzuki will finish pulling out of the Canadian market by the end of 2014, their SX4 was available from 2007 and on as a compact sedan and five-door hatch model that followed the lines of competitors like the Ford Fiesta, Subaru Impreza and others with selection space.

The hatchback variant of Suzuki’s SX4 could be had with AWD – in addition to good driving dynamics, a flexible cabin, good visibility and decent-looking reliability. There’s plenty of selection on models from 2007 to about 2010 in the sub-$10,000 price range. The sedan variant came in front-drive only.

Feature content included cruise control, air conditioning, tinted windows, remote entry, tilt steering, power locks, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated seats, leather-wrapped accents, an in-dash CD changer and more.

Engines/Trim: All models got a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 140 to 150 horsepower, depending on the year. Manual or automatic transmissions could be had with either model, including the AWD hatch. That’s right folks: an all-wheel drive hatch that lets you shift your own gears! Note that higher-grade models wore JLX or Sport badges.

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2012 Suzuki SX4 Sedan, Hatchback. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Like: Generous headroom, all-season traction with the AWD system on board, the ability to switch said AWD system on and off with a switch as required, an easy-to-use Bluetooth system and fuel consumption were all rated highly. Ditto the wide outward view and good all-around visibility. Fit and finish for the money are commonly praised, too. Sporty handling and all-around confidence round out the owner-stated praise points.

What Owners Dislike: Common complaints tend to centre around a less-than-impressive factory stereo, road noise at speed, and the desire for a bit more than 150 horsepower to move the car along.

Check out some owner reviews on autoTRADER.ca.

The Test Drive: Once you confirm the stereo works, turn it off and test-drive the SX4 with your ears. Feel the car for any signs of unwelcomed vibration at speed, which could be the result of a bad driveshaft or CV joints. The vibration may be accompanied by a rhythmic ticking or clunking sound, if present. Popping or clicking noises from the front or rear of the SX4 you’re considering while steering or tackling bumps could indicate a worn-out bushing or suspension component.

Finally, a roaring noise, or a loud hum at speed, could be the result of a bad wheel bearing. There’s plenty of discussion on this topic in the owner’s community. Have a mechanic take a look if you’re unsure of any unwelcome sound.

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2012 Suzuki SX4 Sedan, Hatchback. Click image to enlarge

Head for the corners of the car and see how the tires are wearing across their treads. Heavier wear on the inside or outside of the treads typically indicates an alignment-related issue, possibly indicating that some part of the SX4’s suspension is in need of attention. Steer the front wheels so you can see across the treads to make the check. Rear tires can show signs of alignment problems too. If the vehicle’s alignment is healthy, the tires should wear evenly. Scrubbing or excessive wear at the edges of the tires, that is, where the treads meet the sidewall, may indicate an alignment issue, too.

Note that some owners have reported the engine taking a while to fire up when started, which could be a computer-related issue that requires a re-flash of the SX4’s computer system.

Avoid models that have been lifted or subjected to other suspension modifications which some owners of the SX4 AWD models carry out. Ground clearance, a tougher look and making your little ute-hatch look more menacing to off-road trails are nice, but blown struts and worn-out wheel-bearings that can’t cope with the extra load are not.

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