Bottom line: If you are in the market for a zippy, spiffy, affordable family sedan, go online and find your nearest Suzuki dealer. Check out the Kizashi, offered as the base S or SE, the mid-grade Sport GTS, or the top-of-the-line Sport SLS. Compare with comparable cars on your shopping list. Here’s betting you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Very much fun to drive in all three.

Head-turning quotient: A little bit of Audi here, too much Suzuki there, and the right amount of Volkswagen and Toyota everywhere. Maybe that’s the problem — no strong self-identity.

Body style/layout: The Kizashi is a compact, front-engine family sedan available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Engines/transmissions: Kizashi sedans come with a 2.4-liter, 16-valve double-overhead cam in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing for improved fuel economy (185 horsepower, 170 foot-pounds of torque). A six-speed manual transmission is standard and is recommended by this column for best driving experience. A continuously variable automatic transmission (more convenience, less fun, a loss of five horsepower) is optional.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 13.3 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16.6 gallons of gasoline (regular is fine).

Mileage: My real-world mileage was 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear), four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, emergency brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, front and rear side-mounted air bags, and front and rear head air bags.

Prices: The base price tag ranges from $18,999 for the S to $24,699 for the SLS. The dealer’s invoice price on the Kizashi Sport SLS is $23,711. Price as tested on the Sport SLS is $27,318, including $1,874 in options (floor mats, onboard navigation with backup camera, satellite radio) and a $745 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested on the Sport SLS is $26,255. A $1,000 consumer rebate on the Sport SLS was available at this writing.


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