Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: With Kizashi, Suzuki becomes a player on the midsize sedan scene

Appearance: The elegant Kizashi, which looks more mainstream than a head-turner, resembles a Volkswagen Jetta. (Is it a coincidence that the two companies recently announced an alliance?) It has nice touches such as sculpted tailpipes that blend in with the body and 18-inch wheels.

Performance: A midsize sedan with a manual transmission? That's all but unheard of. It's a nice change, however, from the usual automatic. We both liked the light feel of the clutch and the six-speed shifter, although Peter thought the throws might be a bit long for some drivers. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder produces 185 horsepower, which delivers adequate acceleration but won't get you excited on top end (turbo, anyone?). But then, neither will this front-wheel driver — AWD is available — deliver much in the way of torque steer. We both liked the car's grip (it has traction control), especially in the rain. We both also liked the brakes, which had a smooth feel and good stopping power. Peter found the ride to be civil on an I-4 jaunt to Orlando, but the Kizashi is no heavyweight: Lyra found the 3,200-pound sedan susceptible to wind gusts on her Howard Frankland commute. She also found it jarring on a brick street with some chassis noise. We hope the VW partnership will bring a diesel version into the lineup in the future.

Interior: For a car at this price point, it's fairly loaded with features that seem in tune with what drivers want and need: electronic push-button start, a blend of hard/soft plastics on the dash accented with aluminum trim, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, parking assist, blasting Rockford Fosgate audio, heated seats, sun roof, dual climate control. For a smaller midsize sedan, it has ample trunk space. Peter fit four average-sized suitcases into it, but the huge rear Fosgate speaker that intrudes into the trunk space might prevent anything that's too large from fitting. Families, take note: There are eight cup holders, although Lyra found them too large for some drinks. She also found the seat's leather squeaky when she clutched. We both like the simple, black-and-white gauges and uncluttered console. Peter had plenty of headroom, and the rear, although not spacious, provided enough room for his two kids. Lyra didn't like the automatic wiper-speed control. She found it erratic and annoying.

The bottom line: Suzuki calls the Kizashi a sports sedan, and we think that overbills its performance. But we like that the company is aiming high while keeping it affordable — and it mostly succeeds.

Suzuki has come a long way since the "tin can" that Lyra's dad drove 10 years ago in Japan. The company, better known for its motorcycles, is mounting its first serious entry into the competitive midsize sedan class with the new Kizashi (kee-zah-she). But does it live up to the Japanese word's definition: Something great is coming?

Our 3 favorites

Easy shifting: Light clutching and shifting made it effortless and pleasant.

Manual option: Luxury with a manual transmission? Daring.

Price: Upscale, yet within reach.

Interior: Suzuki made it appealing on a budget with details such as door padding.

Surprise factor: Who expected this from Suzuki?

Details: I really liked the turbine-fan-looking aluminum wheels and body-integrated exhaust.

Peter Couture

Lyra Solochek

2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS

Price: $24,399 SLS base, $25,389 as tested

Powertrain: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 6-speed manual transmission, FWD

Horsepower: 185 at 6,500 rpm

Torque: 170 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm

Curb weight: 3,241 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 106.3

Length, 183.1

Width, 71.7

Fuel economy:

20 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway

Fuel type:

Regular unleaded


features: Electronic stability control with traction control, ABS, air bags, brake assist, side impact door beams, parking assist.

Other trim levels (and starting prices): S ($18,999), SE ($21,499), GTS (22,499)

Options worth considering: Continuous Variable Transmission, all-wheel drive, navigation with rear vision camera

Web site:

The Daily Drivers: With Kizashi, Suzuki becomes a player on the midsize sedan scene 01/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land O' Lakes, is proposing an end to public financing of campaigns. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  3. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.
  4. Plant City farmer hopes robot pickers can save strawberry industry from shrinking labor force


    PLANT CITY — If current trends continue, the region's status as a major strawberry producer will depend in large part on what happens in Mexico.

    Strawberry pickers work during the daytime, when fruit is more likely to bruise. Machine pickers can work at night. The owner of Wish Farms in Plant City is developing automated pickers and hopes to see them at work on a widespread basis in five years. [Times file]
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman sells house for $3 million to new player

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman's multi-million Davis Islands home is staying in the Lightning family. Yzerman sold his 6,265-square-foot house Monday to new defenseman Dan Girardi for $3 million.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman sold for $3 million Monday to Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi. | [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]