1996 Suzuki X-90

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1996 Suzuki X-90
Available in 2 styles:  X-90 shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

25 city / 28 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 6
1996 Suzuki X-90 4.0 3
$ 3,400-3,400
December 15, 1995
IT'S A NO-BUTT, bubble of a thing, a laugher if ever there wasone. It comes with a chopped-off tail, mostly glass canopy, bug-eyedheadlamps and bulging fenders. It's so ugly, it's funny. It's so funny,it's cute.

Suzuki calls it the 1996 X-90. But beyond that, Suzuki doesn'tknow what to call it; nor does anyone else. Categorization in thisinstance suffers from ambition; and the X-90 certainly is ambitious.

It's a two-seat sports coupe that looks like an econocar, butisn't priced like one. It's a four-wheel-drive, off-road vehicle thatdoes an excellent job of romping through the snow and mud. But it'llbust your rump if you ever get silly enough to try to drive it over arock-strewn hill.

It's also a product liability lawyer's delight. This littlevehicle is aimed directly at the young and the restless, who insurerssay do an awfully good job of leaving the highway en route to hospitalemergency wards. When you add that demographic to the tiny size andmultipurpose mission of the X-90, you come up with lots of potentiallitigation.

Yet, despite its shortcomings, the X-90 probably will sell well,because it beats the wheels off even the most expensive, most competentvehicles in one area: fun. I enjoyed running around in this little thingso much, I didn't want to give it back, even though there were severalfar more expensive and exotic vehicles in my driveway.

Background: American Suzuki Motor Corp., which sells the X-90 inthe United States, understands the youth market better than any of itscompetitors. That's why the company has triumphed in this countrydespite numerous commercial and legal hardships.

There were those of us in the automotive press who didn't thinkSuzuki would last in America much beyond 1985, when it introduced itsfirst vehicle, the brutish little Suzuki Samurai. We were wrong. Turnsout that the Samurai was exactly what the 19-something crowd wanted,warts and all. For that matter, elders also took to the little Samurai,which was short on safety and amenities, but surprisingly reliable, andpretty darned competent in the rough.

Suzuki since then has improved the safety and appeal of itsproducts, as evidenced by its newest entry, the X-90, which I'll call an"ute coupe." That's "ute" as in sports/utility and "coupe" as in sportscoupe.

The X-90 ute coupe is loaded, which accounts for itscomparatively heavy price. Standard equipment includes dual front airbags; four-wheel, anti-lock brakes; daytime running lights (engine on,headlamps on); 1997 federal standard side-impact beams; a two-speedtransfer case and automatically locking hubs for four-wheel-drive mode;power windows and door locks; tachometer; intermittent wipers; aluminumalloy wheels and 15-inch Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires; T-top roof foropen-air motoring; and, yeah, two cup holders.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a four-speedautomatic is optional. The X-90 is equipped with a standard 1.6-liter,fou r-cylinder, 16-valve engine rated 95 horsepower at 5,600 rpm withtorque set at 98 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm.

A two-wheel-drive X-90 is available.

Complaint Despite all of its safety enhancements and its ruggedbody-on-frame construction, the X-90 remains an awfully small vehicle ina world of giants. The thing is 12.2-feet-long, 5.6-feet-wide,five-feet-tall resting atop a wheelbase of 86.6 inches. It weighs about2,490 pounds, while the typical family vehicle weighs about 3,210pounds. You don't have to be a genius to figure out how it will fare ina 20 mph frontal crash with a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep Grand Cherokee,Ford Explorer or Chevrolet Tahoe.

Praise: Total fun! The little thing scoots! It zips! Driving itis like wearing a favorite pair of jeans or tennis shoes. You can parkit anywhere, and if you're possessed of common sense, you can take itSOME PLACES -- underline SOME PLACES -- where regular cars can't go.

Head-turning quotient: Another smugly vehicle -- mall, ugly,but adorable.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent small-vehicle ride onthe road. Pretty brutal off-road. Excellent small-vehicle handling onroad. You'd better watch your butt off-road. Excellent acceleration inchanging lanes, but keep your tail out of the left lane where fastertraffic is flowing. Very good braking.

Mileage: In the tested five-speed version, about 28 miles pergallon (11.1-gallon tank, estimated 300-mile range on usable volume ofregular unleaded), running mostly highway with two occupants and verylittle cargo in the little 8.4-cubic-foot trunk.

Sound system: AM/FM stereo radio and cassette by Alpine. Teenybuttons, and tinny sound at high volume. More round and full sound atlower volume.

Price: Base four-wheel-drive X-90 price is $13,889. Dealerinvoice price on that model is $13,079. Price as tested is $16,288,including $2,009 in options such as the deluxe sound system and airconditioner, and a $390 destination charge.

Purse-strings note: This truly is a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Lots offun. Lots of risk, I think. Your call.

    Expert Reviews 2 of 6

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