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Motoring: Suzuki misses the market

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | March 23rd, 2009

Suzuki has one of the smallest line-ups of any auto manufacturer. They have one sedan, two hatchbacks, one pick-up truck (thanks to the new Equator) and two SUV's.

As far as their SUV's go, we have tested the Grand Vitara on these pages over the years, in both the four-cylinder and V6 versions, this week we will test Suzuki's other SUV, the XL7.

Unlike the Grand Vitara, which is purely a Suzuki product, the XL7 is built on a GM platform, using GM engines, gearboxes and even switches.

But don't think that is a bad thing, because Suzuki did pick some of their better pieces to put this one together.

It has the familiar GM 3.6-litre, V6 engine for a start, which produces 252hp. It is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, which sends power to all four wheels. To my surprise, this large, seven seat SUV is enjoyably quick.

This vehicle not only gets up to highway speeds quickly, but it is also comfortable on whatever journey you want to take it on. Thanks to its relaxed nature, it is an ideal vehicle for a long distance trip. However, it is a bit thirsty, I only averaged 14.8-litres/100km, which is not the best in its category by miles.

It is entertaining though, because just like all other Suzuki's, the XL7 is fun in the bends. For a large SUV, it is quite toss-able and the steering feel is excellent. Only gripe is against the rather extra large size of the steering wheel which I kept banging my knee against every time I got in and out.

Once you're in, you'll find the cabin quite nicely appointed and roomy, but only if you use it as a five-seater. Once you lift up the final row of seats, you will find the space in the very rear to be very cramped, and with those seats up, you have no trunk space left whatsoever, so it won't win any luggage carrying awards.

As for styling, it surely won't win any beauty contests either. The front styling is quite busy with what Suzuki calls “Diamond” style headlamps, to me they look more like crying eyes. The rest of the body is rather plain and boring. As one friend put it, it looks like a hearse.

The XL7 has been on sale for a few years already in its current guise, however the slow sales has had an effect on it. There are no more trim level options for the XL7, it comes one way and that is it. It comes with heated seats, power windows and locks, a sunroof and not much else. Navigation is no longer available as an option, but then, you can go to any store and buy a TomTom device for $200.

So the Suzuki XL7 JLX AWD is yours for $36,995, which despite it's good points, I still think is a bit much for this vehicle, especially for a seven-seater that is best used as a five-seater vehicle.

So I have an idea, save yourself a lot of money and buy a Suzuki Grand Vitara instead, especially with the new four-cylinder engine. Trust me, it is the wise choice.

If you truly have the need to have a proper seven passenger vehicle, buy a Dodge Grand Caravan, they are dirt cheap these days.
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