2011 Suzuki Kizashi

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Key Specs

of the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    24-26 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    185-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Nimble handling
  • Supportive seats
  • Attractive, intuitive dashboard
  • Standard keyless entry

The Bad

  • Below-average gas mileage
  • Aftermarket navigation unit is subpar

Notable Features of the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi

  • New Sport model
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Available rearview camera
  • Manual or CVT

2011 Suzuki Kizashi Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

Introduced for the 2010 model year, the Kizashi midsize sedan was the most impressive, competitive model in Suzuki's history, and our enthusiasm hasn't abated in 2011.

My impressions in the 2010 review still apply, but a few things have changed for 2011: Suzuki has added a Sport designation to the GTS and the all-wheel-drive version of the SLS. That means added chrome accents up front, side sill extensions, a trunklid spoiler and 18-inch wheels. See the two model years compared.

Some other developments are noteworthy: The Kizashi took third place in a Cars.com comparison test among eight leading family sedans; buyers have been raving about the 2010 in Cars.com's consumer reviews; and this time I got to test a 2011 version I missed last time: a manual, front-wheel-drive version of the Sport SLS trim level. That car is basically the opposite personality of the 2010 Kizashi GTS automatic with all-wheel drive.

Last time around, I noted that I could imagine the Kizashi being sporty, but that the automatic with all-wheel drive wasn't the sporty version. The manual with front-wheel drive definitely is. It hits 60 mph in just over 7 seconds — rather than more than 9 — and is fleet-footed on twisty roads. The drivers in our comparison test called it "zippy," "peppy" and "the driver's car."

The six-speed manual transmission is well-geared and the clutch pedal is light enough, but the shifter's a bit long and clumsy. It's also not the nices...

Introduced for the 2010 model year, the Kizashi midsize sedan was the most impressive, competitive model in Suzuki's history, and our enthusiasm hasn't abated in 2011.

My impressions in the 2010 review still apply, but a few things have changed for 2011: Suzuki has added a Sport designation to the GTS and the all-wheel-drive version of the SLS. That means added chrome accents up front, side sill extensions, a trunklid spoiler and 18-inch wheels. See the two model years compared.

Some other developments are noteworthy: The Kizashi took third place in a Cars.com comparison test among eight leading family sedans; buyers have been raving about the 2010 in Cars.com's consumer reviews; and this time I got to test a 2011 version I missed last time: a manual, front-wheel-drive version of the Sport SLS trim level. That car is basically the opposite personality of the 2010 Kizashi GTS automatic with all-wheel drive.

Last time around, I noted that I could imagine the Kizashi being sporty, but that the automatic with all-wheel drive wasn't the sporty version. The manual with front-wheel drive definitely is. It hits 60 mph in just over 7 seconds — rather than more than 9 — and is fleet-footed on twisty roads. The drivers in our comparison test called it "zippy," "peppy" and "the driver's car."

The six-speed manual transmission is well-geared and the clutch pedal is light enough, but the shifter's a bit long and clumsy. It's also not the nicest-looking stick, but that's due in part to its Reverse lockout collar just under the knob — the type you pull up on to access Reverse. It's not very streamlined, but I think it's the absolute best way to lock out the Reverse gear, and I wish all automakers would use it, looks be damned. It's ergonomic, and the stick absolutely will not go into Reverse unless you want it to. Plus, it's abundantly clear when it is in gear. Not so for many of the other shifters on the market.

Driving this version also confirmed my suspicion that, at modest speeds, the optional continuously variable automatic transmission puts the engine on the verge of lugging, a condition most often experienced with a stick shift when the gear is too high for the current rpm and the engine struggles and vibrates conspicuously. When I allowed this version to decelerate to the point at which a lower gear was needed, the vibration was exactly what I experienced with the CVT, supporting my claim that the latter should be recalibrated.

Winning Styling

The Kizashi actually turns heads, and that's rare in the midsize sedan class. After more than a year, I like it even more; with the new Sport treatment, the car looks a bit more aggressive without going over the top. Our Platinum Silver Metallic paint looked excellent, and the grille's metallic look is very nicely executed. It's not metal, but it doesn't look too plasticky.

Ditto for the interior, the quality of which continues to impress, despite the fact that the market has continued to advance. Both in our comparison test and in casual test drives of different Kizashi models, observers have described the quality as above average. Leather costs more, but that doesn't always translate to quality. Thankfully, in the Kizashi Sport SLS, the leather was as good for its type as the fabric was in the GTS.

Shortcomings

The Kizashi does have its shortcomings, one of which is backseat roominess: As mentioned in the 2010 review, legroom in particular is a couple of inches below the norm. It also has a couple of quirks that showed up both in our 2010 and 2011 test cars, one of which I'm ready to call a defect: In both cars, the windshield washers froze and clogged when it wasn't particularly cold outside — right around freezing or just below. Also, I didn't mention it last time, but the 2011 reminded me how susceptible the Kizashi is to outside odors. I know it's a weird issue, but diesel fumes and even stuff like cigarette smoke from nearby cars readily found their way into the ventilation system. Perhaps this means there's a greater than normal supply of fresh air, which could be good, but sometimes the air isn't very fresh. With me, the Kizashi's recirculation button gets a workout.

Safety

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Kizashi achieved the top score of Good in frontal, side and rear impacts, and was rated Acceptable for roof strength. In this crowded class, 11 models do the Kizashi one better, earning a Good rating for roof strength, which predicts rollover protection.

The Kizashi features eight airbags, including seat-mounted torso airbags for all outboard seats, as well as side curtains. Also standard are antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. For all the Kizashi's safety features, click here.

Kizashi in the Market

For what it is, the Kizashi is priced reasonably well, though Suzuki might be wise to lower the price as an incentive for buyers. Both the compact and midsize classes are crowded and include some new, high-quality vehicles. If all a car had to do to succeed in the market was be a good car, the Kizashi would be in excellent shape. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, and the Kizashi isn't exactly flying out of showrooms.

Take a car like the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, a redesigned model that has increased in size and decreased in price to less than $15,000 to start. We're not wild about the new one's interior, but it has excellent name recognition and a reputation that's perhaps stronger than the current model itself. In the real world, that makes it hard for a little-known model like the Kizashi to compete.

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Latest 2011 Kizashi Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Super awesome sporty car

by timthebugguy from maricopa az on April 14, 2018

I love my car. It's too bad I have to let it go for a bigger vehicle. Only 68k miles and no problems. turns on a dime very smoothly. Has a real get up and go when you press the gas. Fast car. love the ... Read full review

(5.0)

Reliable. Sporty. Unique.

by gnemokYAJ on August 3, 2017

The Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS is probably one of the funnest cars I've ever owned. With its eye turning physique and responsive four-cylinder engine it's a combination of sport and comfort all in one. ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Suzuki Kizashi S

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
acceptable

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Suzuki Kizashi

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Kizashi received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker