Japanese automaker Suzuki, which is still clinging to a tenuous affiliation with General Motors, has revved up its utility vehicle lineup for 2007, with three new and redesigned entries. At the top of the range is the 2007 XL7.
Built in Ontario on the same line as the Chevrolet Equinox, the '07 XL7 is essentially an all-new vehicle, having received a substantial ground-up overhaul for the new model year.
We tested an XL7 AWD with no options and a bottom line of $25,849.
HE: Wow! What a difference from the stodgy old XL7 that Suzuki was selling last year. This new model is strikingly modern and fresh. Love the headlamps, but the overall lines are really eye-catching, too.
SHE: Yuck! Bad taste -- sounds like yet another male fantasy clouding your perspective, as usual. I think the exterior shape is ugly and I actually miss the boxy, familiar lines of the outgoing XL7. The new one is trying to look like a sleek crossover along the lines of the Mazda CX-7, but it doesn't pull it off. I wasn't terribly impressed with the cabin of the XL7 either. I felt like it was a bargain-basement model, from the time I slid behind the wheel and pulled down the visor. It looked and felt cheap -- not at all what I'd expect from a vehicle priced in the mid-20s.
HE: I think you're forgetting what's out there in the crossover segment and some of the prices being charged by the competition. The XL7 that we drove was loaded with equipment and also seats seven. The Suzuki, as part of its $25,849 sticker, comes with standard stability and traction control, antilock brakes and side curtain air bags.
SHE: I'm sorry, but I had lots of issues with the XL7. On the inside, I was put off by the location of the power window switches on the center console -- not intuitive at all. And passengers in the second and third rows get short shrift, in terms of amenities. I did like the fact that the third row has split folding seats, and there is a clever underfloor storage bin.
HE: The driving dynamics are dramatically improved from last year, in just about every sense. The switch to a new chassis means ride comfort is greatly enhanced; that was a real sore spot with the old XL7, which had a rough and bouncy ride. And there's a terrific 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 252 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed automatic. On the down side, the EPA fuel-economy figures aren't much to brag about -- 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 on the highway. We barely averaged 20 during our test drive.
SHE: I was not nearly as thrilled as you were by the driving experience. I noticed lots of wind and tire noise on the highway, and in mall parking lots, it was a real problem to park. Suzuki needs to do something about that steering and turning circle.
HE: I did have some issues with the steering, too. It feels sloppy and vague at higher speeds, and doesn't want to respond crisply to driver inputs. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
SHE: One area that does, however, is customer care. I noticed that Suzuki is offering very generous roadside assistance and warranty packages, among the best in the industry.
HE: Considering the price, the performance, the level of standard equipment and the customer-friendly extras, I'd say the new XL7 should at least be on your crossover shopping list.
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