2012 Suzuki SX4 Hatchback - FROM $16,799
While the 2012 Suzuki SX4 still remains a good value, a number of newer and more enticing compact sedan and hatchback competitors make it hard to recommend.
What's New for 2012
For 2012, all Suzuki SX4 sedans will receive standard stability control and rear disc brakes. The SX4 Sport S, GTS and LE Anniversary Edition trim levels have been discontinued in favor of a more streamlined model lineup.
The 2012 Suzuki SX4 lineup of sedans and large hatchbacks present definite value when it comes to their generous lists of standard features at an affordable price. When you consider that the SX4 also delivers a decent amount of power from its four-cylinder engine and offers available all-wheel drive, its appeal certainly begins to brighten. But there are also some drawbacks to Suzuki's entry-level model that might give you pause.
For one, its elevated seating position favors shorter drivers; medium to tall folk might bemoan a lack of legroom and a telescoping steering wheel. Furthermore, the SX4's interior looks and feels out of date, and whatever advantages the engine output may have are negated by the car's heavy curb weight. In keeping with the "every silver lining has a gray cloud," theme, Suzuki's limited dealer network can make the purchase and maintenance of an SX4 more difficult.
With newer entries into this compact segment coming to market, we think most shoppers might be happier with other choices. The versatile Honda Fit has been at the top of our list for quite some time, while the Kia Soul also brings a substantial amount of utility along with a fun, funky vibe. The new Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent are also worth considering given their superior interior designs and fuel economy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Suzuki SX4 is a compact car available in sedan and four-door hatchback body styles. The sedans and the "Sportback" version of the hatchback are front-wheel-drive only, while the "Crossover" hatchback is only offered with all-wheel drive.
The SX4 sedan is offered in base, LE, LE Popular Package and SE trim levels. The base model is sparsely equipped, coming with 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks and a tilt-only steering wheel. The LE adds air-conditioning and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. The LE Popular Package trim adds alloy wheels, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), remote keyless entry (optional on the LE), cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.
The sporty SE model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, an aero body kit, foglights, paddle shifters and an integrated Garmin navigation system with real-time traffic and other live information. Bluetooth is offered as an option.
The four-door SX4 Sportback hatchback is available in base and Tech trims. The base model is similarly equipped to the SE sedan trim, but the CVT and navigation are options. Opting for the Tech trim gets you a larger rear spoiler and the CVT with shift paddles. Bluetooth is optional.
The all-wheel-drive SX4 Crossover hatchback model is available in base, Premium and Tech Value Package trim levels. The base is aligned with the LE sedan trim, adding 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails, remote keyless entry and a cargo cover. The Premium trim essentially adds the items in the sedan's LE Popular trim. The Tech Value Package tacks on the navigation and heated front seats and offers Bluetooth as an option.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2012 Suzuki SX4 models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. All base trims and the sedan LE come with a six-speed manual transmission, while other models receive the CVT. When paired with the CVT, the engine's output drops slightly to 148 hp. All SX4s are front-wheel drive except for the Crossover hatchback, which is only offered with all-wheel drive.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the SX4 range from 25 mpg city/32 highway and 28 mpg combined for the base sedan with the CVT (23/33/26 with the manual) down to 23/29/25 for the all-wheel-drive Crossover with the CVT (22/30/25 with the manual). These aren't as high as some other subcompacts, but are pretty good considering the SX4's greater horsepower.
Every 2012 Suzuki SX4 comes with antilock disc brakes, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers and stability control.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the SX4 the top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests but only a second-worst score of "Marginal" in roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Suzuki SX4's cabin falls short of much of its competition, with an aging design and lower-quality materials defining much of the interior. Obviously, the base sedan is the most spartan of the bunch, lacking both air-conditioning and a stereo. On the plus side, the gauges are easy to read and the controls are intuitive to operate. The available navigation system looks like a bit of an afterthought and uses a smallish screen, but the Garmin interface should be familiar to many people, and it comes with traffic updates and other real-time information.
Despite a generous amount of headroom, a tall seat height and the lack of a telescoping steering column can make it difficult for some to find a comfortable position behind the wheel. If there's one place the SX4 excels, it's in cargo capacity. Hatchback models boast a healthy 54 cubic feet of cargo room with both sections of the 60/40-split rear seatback folded forward. Sedan versions also offer abundant trunk space, with 15 cubic feet of cargo room -- as much as some midsize sedans -- and split-folding rear seats that allow longer items to extend into the passenger cabin.
With 150 horses under the hood, the 2012 Suzuki SX4 looks good on paper. The reality, however, is that the car's relatively hefty curb weight minimizes whatever advantage the 2.0-liter engine might have to offer. Most versions offer a firm but comfortable ride quality. The firmer suspensions underpinning models with Sport in their name produce better handling, albeit with a slightly harsher ride. Even so, the lack of steering feel limits how much fun you'll get out of a spirited drive. One other negative to note is that the SX4 Crossover's smaller fuel tank reduces the car's range, meaning you'll be filling up more frequently than you may be used to.