Suzuki introduced a new four-door, front-wheel-drive sport sedan named the Aerio, along with a related Aerio SX hatchback, in March 2002. Both cars have an unconventional appearance that places them uniquely in the marketplace.
All-wheel drive became available for the 2003 model year, and a new 2.3-liter four-cylinder that develops 155 horsepower was installed in 2004.
A mild face-lift for 2005 gave the Aerio a new front bumper, grille and fog lamps. A new analog instrument panel was installed, and audio and climate controls on the steering wheel were included. Side-impact airbags became standard.
Suzuki has adopted a simplified model strategy for 2006. Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are newly standard, and a new CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers is installed. Suzuki’s QuadGrip all-wheel drive is now available for all models.
(Skip to details on the: Aerio SX)
More upright than most small cars, Aerio sedans now come in a single trim level, but a Premium Package is offered. Design features such as pronounced wheel flares and multireflector headlights enhance the Aerio’s sporty image. A stubby, ground-hugging snout incorporates a body-colored bumper.
Both body styles ride a 97.6-inch wheelbase, but at 171.3 inches long overall, the sedan is nearly 5 inches longer than the SX hatchback. Large doors are intended to ease entry and exit. Heated mirrors are included on all-wheel-drive models.
Each Aerio seats up to five occupants on front buckets and a split, folding rear seat. The tall roofline allows a high seating position. The sedan’s trunk holds up to 14.6 cubic feet of cargo.
Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, a tachometer, a tilt steering wheel with integrated audio controls, intermittent wipers, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Premium Package adds cruise control, a six-CD changer with seven speakers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, color-keyed mirrors and door handles, fog lamps and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The Aerio’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder generates 155 hp and 152 pounds-feet of torque and teams with a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. All-wheel-drive models come only with the automatic.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, daytime running lights and child-safety seat tether anchors are standard.
In construction quality, performance and handling, the Aerio took a big step forward compared with Suzuki’s old Esteem. It’s more fun to drive than most small cars, and the Aerio easily whips around urban areas. Acceleration is satisfying, and the automatic transmission functions without harshness or undue delay. Engine noise is noticeable during acceleration.
The Aerio is easy to steer and control, and it breezes through corners and moderate curves. A light feel on the highway yields acceptable stability, but the Aerio doesn’t feel quite as secure as some other compacts. Its ride quality is impressive even on patched urban pavement, but imperfect surfaces can produce harsh suspension reactions.
Visibility is very good. All seats are comfortable and snugly bolstered. Space in both the front and rear seats is abundant.�
Billed as a “sport crossover model,” the youth-oriented Aerio SX straddles two vehicle categories: hatchback and wagon. The SX model has a rear spoiler and a liftgate that’s close to vertical. Measuring 166.5 inches long overall, the SX is equipped with 15-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels.
The Aerio SX includes a cargo cover and can hold up to 63.7 cubic feet of cargo when the rear seats are folded. Standard equipment is similar to the Aerio sedan’s. All-wheel drive and a Premium Package are available. In nearly all respects, the driving experience in the SX is identical to that of the sedan.
For car enthusiasts, Suzuki also offers an SX SWT model that includes carbon-fiber-look B-pillar trim and body graphics, dramatic interior lighting and other extras. Back to top