Sunday, December 27, 2009;
The bottom line: Here's suggesting that Suzuki drop the pocket-rocket marketing hype and emphasize the SX4 Sportback's solid, real-world virtues. It is one of the best, most gutsy, most affordable urban wagons available.
Complaint: Perhaps I'm greedy. But I think a small four-cylinder wagon with a factory weight of 2,732 pounds should get better than 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. More-efficient diesel technology would raise the cost of this one and threaten its "economy car" status. But it would add greatly to its value.
Head-turning quotient: It's a happy marriage between ugly and cute. Think of it as a Zhu Zhu pet with horsepower and steering wheel.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride is all-around comfortable. Acceleration is decent. Handling proved remarkable, especially in inclement winter weather.
Body style/layout: The 2010 SX4 Sportback is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel-drive wagon with four side doors and a rear hatch.
Engine/transmissions: A standard 2-liter, inline four-cylinder engine serves the Sportback wagon and Sport sedan. The engine develops 150 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 140 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. Six-speed manual transmission is standard. A continuously variable automatic transmission -- one in which there are no specific gear gates -- is optional.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Maximum cargo space is 54 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons of regular gasoline.
Mileage: Twenty-two miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway does not impress hyper-mileage motorists. It doesn't wow this column, either.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear) with antilock brake protection; electronic brake force distribution to assist in panic stops; electronic stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.
Price: The 2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback wagon starts at $17,949. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $17,231. Price as tested is $18,984, including $300 in options (front and rear floor mats and cargo net) and a $735 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $18,254. Current buyer incentive money is at $1,250. Prices are sourced from Suzuki, Edmunds.com and Cars.com, an affiliate of The Washington Post.