• (4.5) 21 reviews
  • MSRP: $3,937–$12,057
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 24-26
  • Engine: 180-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 2-speed CVT w/OD and auto-manual
2012 Suzuki Kizashi

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Suzuki Kizashi

What We Don't Like

  • CVT responsiveness
  • Below-average gas mileage
  • Aftermarket navigation unit is subpar
  • Road noise

Notable Features

  • 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Standard keyless entry

2012 Suzuki Kizashi Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

Editor's note: This review was written in March 2011 about the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

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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Consumer Reviews

4.5

Average based on 21 reviews

Write a Review

Unappreciated Vehicle

by ag94 from on August 26, 2017

This car has such a unique and attractive styling to it that went unnoticed by American buyers (sadly). The exterior got its looks from the VW Jetta and Toyota Camry, but on the inside, the interior i... Read Full Review

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9 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Suzuki Kizashi trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Suzuki Kizashi Articles

2012 Suzuki Kizashi Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

Recalls

There are currently 2 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

84mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

36mo/36,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years