When it comes to name brands, whether it's fashion, food or cars, somehow the less popular get lost in translation. I admit I didn't even consider Suzuki when I purchased a new vehicle a few years ago - the name just didn't come to mind. I certainly considered foreign cars but I have to admit when it comes to name-brand foreign cars, I think Honda first.
Perhaps the 2005 Suzuki Forenza Wagon isn't as trendy or hip as other more recognizable vehicles, but there's a lot this economical wagon has to offer. When I say economical, I mean this one won't break the bank! It has a "kind of cute" look and a sleek design. The interior is comfortable and simplistic (but not in a boring sense). With a few homey touches this car could become a part of the family.
One area that could use some re-thinking: the Latch connectors. It took my husband (who happens to be a certified child car seat safety technician) nearly 10 minutes to install our son's car seat. I gave up after about five minutes struggling with the Latch connectors, which are very difficult to reach. This poses a problem for my family, because at least once or twice a week we are switching my son's car seat from one car to the next. I'm almost convinced to buy two additional car seats just so I don't have to hassle with the installation each week.
There are no fancy automatic controls in this car. To unlock the car from inside I have to physically pull up on the door lock (oh the horror, I know, but this is something I am having trouble getting used to). After I park, I routinely reach for my purse with one hand while unlocking the door with the door handle - not in this car. I have to pull up on the lock to unlock the door. This is going to take years of reconditioning my brain, but I think I'll get over it. Another thing I'm having trouble getting accustomed to is the shifter. To get it out of drive, I have to push down on the gear shift and then push it into park. I'm not even going to reveal how long it took me to figure this out.
The audio controls are easy to use and simple - it's not a state-of-the-art stereo system but good enough for listening to CDs, cassettes and the radio. There are two staggered cupholders and a small center console storage compartment - not big enough to fit my CDs but good for snacks and tissues. There's another storage bin below the radio that holds and charges my cell phone. Each door has storage area for toys, books or trash. There's also a cleverly hidden pull-out storage drawer in the front passenger seat.
In the back, the center armrest folds down to reveal two cupholders. The back seats fold down in a snap, creating ample cargo space. The cargo area also offers more cleverly hidden storage compartments: two on the side and a plethora below the cargo floor; just lift, fold and viola. I can put my car junk (emergency road-side kit, water bottles, oil, etc.) in there so it doesn't slide around while I'm driving.
Since NHTSA crash test results are not available on this model, I have to wonder how safe this car is for my family. Is a four-disc break system enough? If not, for $500 more I can get the antilock braking system, which eases my worries a bit. However, Suzuki does offer an Open Road Promise: 'America's Best Warranty' (100,000 mile / seven year transferable), powertrain limited warranty, 24/7 road side assistance, and the warranty repair courtesy vehicle program.
Suzuki is working on its American image by aggressively introducing nine automobiles in just three years as well as the creation of the Suzuki Square Dealership. I'm so intrigued by this new concept I'm ready to fly to Dallas just to check it out. "Hey, honey why go to California this summer when we can go visit the Suzuki Square Dealership in Dallas?"
Suzuki Square Dealerships are being implemented as a new face for the car-buying experience. According to American Suzuki's PR department, the new design provides for a more friendly and comfortable environment. It's meant to feel like an open-air market: no offices, no closed doors, bold visual styling, and themed interior and exterior lifestyle displays. The contemporary feel and bright colors make for an "open-arms" welcome.
For its excellent price, 'America's Best Warranty' and fun features, the 2005 Suzuki Forenza Wagon might just be the next big name in economical choices for foreign cars.
*For more information on the Suzuki Forenza Wagon and its safety features visit Cars.com.
Let's Talk Numbers LATCH connectors: 2 Passenger seating (including driver): 5
It's the Little Things That Count Storage Compartments (puny, fair, ample, galore): ample Cargo/Trunk Space (puny, fair, ample, galore): ample
Sense and Style Family Friendly (not really, fair, great, excellent): fair-great Fun-Factor (None, some, good times, groove-on): some