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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 3 of 6
1996 Suzuki X-90 4.0 3
$ 3,862-5,458
December 3, 1995
`Fits a little snug," the wife chided as we slid from behind the wheel of the 1996 X90, the all-new, two-seat mini-sport-utility vehicle from Suzuki.

"Just had this suit let out--again," we replied in anguish.

"No, not the suit, the X90," she corrected.

For 1996 Suzuki has expanded its small sport-utility vehicle lineup with the addition of the miniX90 and the four-door Sidekick Sport.

The Japanese automaker is trying to capitalize on the fact that sport-utilities, or SUVs, are selling faster than most of the other vehicles on the market.

Rather than take a $25,000 SUV, add leather seats and call it a $50,000 SUV, as some of its rivals have done or plan to do (we won't name names so as not to embarrass the likes of Lexus, Infiniti or Ford), Suzuki has adopted a different game plan.

It chose to expand its lineup by unveiling a smaller and less expensive SUV in the form of the X90, which starts at $13,499 in two-wheel-drive version, $14,999 with four-wheel-drive and $15,949 with automatic transmission, which still is about $10,000 less than the larger Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Explorer or Jeep Grand Cherokee competition.

It also brought out a four-door Sport companion to its current Sidekick SUV with slightly larger dimensions and a more powerful engine.

The X90 is low-priced. Very low. It also is small. Very small. Tiny, in fact. But it has surprisingly good leg, head and arm room in the cabin, considering its dimensions, though it has to have leg, head and arm room for only two people. When viewing it from the outside, it looks like a munchkin.

The X90 we tested attracted lots of attention from women. "It's so cute, what is it?" they invariably would say.

Men simply stared with puzzled expressions. "Cute" is probably the last word a man wants to hear after spending $15,000 on a vehicle. "Macho," "rugged," "tough," "neat" and even "nifty" are appropriate to compliment a man's taste in machinery when he pulls a new vehicle into the drive. "Cute" is not.

Nonetheless, as a two-seater, the X90 is a blessing for those who want to escape the rug rats, but a penalty for those who have no other vehicle to haul them. So it's a limited-purpose vehicle for singles or newly marrieds.

Despite this, Suzuki insists the X90 is not simply a machine for youth, and maintains it will attract people from 16 to 70--even AARP members will want one to tow behind their motor home to the retirement village, Suzuki claims. With a mileage rating of 25 miles per gallon city and 28 m.p.g. highway, it would serve the fuel-conscious retiree well.

Youth will enjoy the removable glass T-Top roof panels for open air motoring around town or down to the beach. Once at the beach, you can engage four-wheel-drive and sand surf.

As small and inexpensive as it is, you can't expect Suzuki to offer shift-on-the-fly 4WD. It doesn't. You mus t stop to pull the transfer case lever into 4WD.

As small as it is, you also must expect to be buffeted in the wind. We were. The 15-inch tires make for respectable ride and handling in a vehicle so small, but 15-inch tires were never meant to serve as an anchor in 20-mile-per-hour crosswinds.

Though Suzuki insists buyers will be 30- to 70-something, we expect the majority will be teen-something. Considering that, it's a relief that dual air bags and anti-lock brakes are standard, along with daytime running lights, to give youngsters a little edge .

However, keep in mind that when you look in the rearview mirror and see a 16-wheeler bearing down on you, it's not going to do your nerves any good.

Another weak point is that there is little, if any, storage in the cabin behind the seats. If you and the wife climb aboard and each has a coat you'd like to shed on the trip, there's no place to put them other than in the trunk, which is fairly good sized for a vehicle this size, although your luggage still will be limited.

In keeping with the small theme, the X90 is powered by a 1.6-liter, 95-horsepower, 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine. It was teamed with a 5-speed manual, a unit that at times allowed little margin for error in trying to slip smoothly from third to fourth gear.

With the 1.6 you learn that when attempting to move from point A to point B, it would be wise to leave a few minutes early to arrive on time.

Base price is $14,999. Standard equipment includes four-wheel ABS; power brakes and steering; 15-inch, steel-belted radial tires on aluminum alloy wheels; intermittent wipers; tinted glass; electric rear-window defogger; dual outside mirrors; remote-control security alarm on the key fob; cruise control; Alpine AM/FM stereo cassette; rear spoiler; power windows and door locks; carpeting; trip meter; dual cupholders and passenger vanity mirror. The only addition was $390 for freight.

>> 1996 Suzuki X-90 4WD. Wheelbase: 86.6 inches Length: 146.1 inches Engine: 1.6-liter, 16-valve, 95-h.p., 4-cylinder Transmission: 5-speed manual Fuel economy: 25 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway Base price: $14,990 Price as tested: $14,990. Add only $390 for freight; the vehicle is too small to add options. Pluses: Dual air bags, ABS, daytime running lights standard. A 4WD sport-utility for less than $25,000. Removable glass T-Top roof panels for open-air driving. Decent-sized cabin and trunk space. Only seats two so kids have to stay home. Minuses: No storage in cabin behind seats. Trunk holds a set of golf clubs, but leave the putter home. Have to stop the vehicle to engage 4WD. Only two seats so kids have to stay home. The Bears' Chris Zorich could bench press this vehicle--with one hand. Chicago Tribune. >>

    Expert Reviews 3 of 6

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