Thursday, August 19, 2010

Say it along with me: Kizashi is a good thing

Sacramento, California – Your biggest problem with the new-for-2010 Suzuki Kizashi sedan might be pronouncing it.

For the record, it’s pronounced Kee-Zah-Shee.

Saying Suzuki Kizashi three times fast was too much for my tongue. Driving it, however, was a surprising pleasure.

My tester was the fairly basic SE, starting at a mere $21,499. The Kizashi can be had in any one of eight trim levels, priced as high as $26,749 for an SLS with all-wheel drive.

All models come with a 2.4-liter, 16-valve in-line 4 rated at 180 horsepower. Frankly, the Kizashi felt much more powerful than that, zipping forward aggressively from standing starts downtown and breezing down freeway on-ramps with impressive, robust energy.

And yet, gas mileage was excellent, about 2 miles per gallon better for both advertised numbers – 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

So, right away, I’m impressed. But wait, there’s more.

This car is definitely not your grandfather’s – or your father’s – Suzuki. This is a full-out midsize sedan with real room for five adults. It looks like a mainstream midsize cruiser and feels like it in every way. Styling is not over the top, but it’s what I’d call stately-attractive.

Suzuki calls the Kizashi its new flagship vehicle, and that’s entirely appropriate. This is an attention-grabbing vehicle that stands up well against domestic and foreign competition. Additional bonus: a sweet 100,000-mile, seven-year powertrain limited warranty.

Obviously, Suzuki believes in its own engineering. That’s good to know.

Me, I like creature comforts, and they were plentiful in the affordable test ride. Standard fare included dual-zone climate control, rear-passenger air vents, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a 10-way power driver’s seat and leather touches sprinkled about, including on the steering wheel.

A long list of safety features, including air bags galore, added to the package.

I swear I kept looking for something to not like about this car, but I came up snake eyes every time. It’s not a Corvette … OK, there’s one. Otherwise, go test drive this car that you may not even have heard about among the blizzard of midsize offerings.

I’m told that the Japanese word Kizashi means that something great is coming. Well, great is a serious word. My experience was certainly very good, no matter how you say it.

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