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March 2005
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2005 Suzuki Aerio SX AWD

The Good: Comfortable seating position. All wheel drive. Roomy interior in every position. Quick and sporty ride.

The Bad:  Wheels are too small. Overall shape is not bold or aggressive.  Needs more noise deadening materials.

            Suzuki has been pulling strong sales recently with the addition of the full size Forenza, combining Italian design and a smooth ride.  However such luck has not befallen upon the Aerio which is rarely seen on the roads of America.  Despite being an all wheel drive candidate at a very low price point, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, and Ford Focus have all grabbed more market share than the Suzuki Forenza.  When looking at the numbers there is nothing that comes close to delivering the features that the Aerio SX delivers at its price point.  So lets take a look at where the Aerio SX delivers and where it does not. 

            The Aerio is available in four door sedan models labeled S or LX, or the hatchback model tested here labeled the SX. On the outside the Aerio SX we tested is compact and small.  Many exterior parts have been redesigned from its first introduction two years ago, such as the front bumper, rear tail lamps, and alloy wheels.  The front end is sleek with a large lower front spoiler offering integrated fog lamps, a mesh grille, and small mock air channels to the sides.  A rear spoiler with an integrated brake light gives the Aerio a sporty look, which is exactly as it should be.

            Under the hood is a 2.3 liter, 16 valve four cylinder DOHC engine that develops 155 horsepower and 152 ft-lb of torque.  One thing we did not like when looking under the hood was the fact that we could see straight through the engine bay to the ground underneath.  That just adds to the feeling of cheapness in a car, and we feel that it should be fully covered underneath.  Besides looks, the engine in the Aerio is quick and fast.  The Aerio quickly reaches highway speeds in a controlled manner.  Engine noise at high rpms is noticeable and there is little sporty exhaust note.  Gear shifts are smooth and quick with the automatic transmission offering a comfortable drive in all circumstances.

            We had a opportunity to test the Aerio in a large snow storm where it performed amazingly well.  This car is a blast to throw around in large snow drifts.  The highly rated Yokohama Geotracker tires on the Aerio allow you to drive through two foot banks of snow easily.  Even on ice the tires along with the four-wheel drive system performed to our amazement.  During normal driving on dry surfaces, power is delivered to the front wheels.  Should front wheels begin to slip, the QuadGrip all wheel drive system transfers some power to the rear wheels, providing an optimum 50/50 front-rear power distribution for improved traction and handling.  The function is very quick and hard to notice on slippery driving surfaces.  Our model did loose its back end when braking on slippery surfaces, and so we would highly recommend the ABS system which is optional.

The interior of the Aerio is spacious and nicely done.  There is nothing that we found to be overly cheap, as we often find in higher priced American brands.  The small touches of silver on the dash and door handles feel good.  The differing materials on the seats and doors also feel good to the touch.  New large analog gauges lit in red look very nice, much more upscale than this price would suggest, and silk chrome rings add a performance touch.  Automatic climate control is now standard and we found it to work very well, never blowing hot air in your face and being smart about when to raise the fan speed on cold starts. 

Comfort is a very strong point of the Aero, with a great entry and exit height in all seating positions.  There is plenty of legroom and the tall cabin offers loads of headroom for taller adults.  The driver’s seat offers an armrest for added comfort and features manual adjustments for height as well.  The front seat backrest offers adequate support with nicely bolstered side portions.  A remote keyless entry is also standard with power locks, windows, and mirrors.  A new steering wheel with audio controls is essential and a great addition.  It is leather wrapped for a nice soft feeling and offers tilt function. 

A six disc in dash CD changer along with seven speakers and a subwoofer gives the Aerio stereo system great playing power.  The stereo is also laid out very nicely in a clean manner with large buttons for daily tasks, giving the dash a simple yet modern look.  Under the center dash is plenty of storage for CD cases with built in slots, and two cup holders.  At night the Aerio glows red inside, which is good for your eyes.  Exterior low beams are a bit dull and ineffective but the fog lamps do add a great amount of light directly in front of your car.  The rear tail lamps did not offer any special look to this model, we liked the Kia Spectra5’s lamp design much more. 

A great feature is the below deck storage in the rear trunk.  The storage compartment really helps things stay in place and it was very useful on every day trips to the grocery store.  We wish more automakers would compartmentalize the floor of the rear trunk.  A split folding rear seat also allows you to add more cargo as needed with the already large cargo opening.  The seats in the Aerio are also very easy and quick to adjust and fold down unlike many other manufacturers’ which require you to pull and push using loads of force. 

            Suzuki also thought of safety when making this small car.  Front and side airbags are standard equipment with a passenger seat weight sensing feature which activated the airbag.  Antilock brakes are still optional and we do want this to be standard in all cars in the year 2005.  All wheel drive is a feature that really helps in this small car.

            The base price for our model, the SX AWD is $17,249.  This includes most options as this is a upgraded model from the base Aerio.  A 100,000 mile warranty is also included.  The Aerio gets 24 miles per gallon city, and 29 miles per gallon on the highway. 

While sales of the Aerio have gone down over the past year, we still feel that this car is one of the few great small cars available with four wheel drive.  The Aerio is extremely comfortable to drive.  It is built well inside and has room in every seat for larger American adults.  While exterior looks are not as stylish as they could be for a compact car, it is still a very practical vehicle.  The front headlamps could be redesigned for a more aggressive look and the rakish rear hatch in black trim makes the Aerio look more like a fun toy than a serious vehicle.  This along with the very small aluminum alloy wheels does not offer a full size car buying appearance.  A more rounded exterior shape would give the Aerio SX a bolder look, helping make it a contender in this segment.  We think that more sound deadening materials and a more stable high speed ride would do wonders for the Aerio as well and this is its weakest point.  Cars such as the  Mazda3 and Golf are quieter and feel much better built.  We hope the future generations of this idea are tested better on the highways of the world. 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 16,386 17,249
Destination 545 545
Braking System, Anti-Lock 475 500

 

  2005 Suzuki Aerio
SX AWD 4dr Sport Wagon (2.3L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Ford Focus
ZX5 SES 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Toyota Matrix
XR AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Scion xA
4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Mazda MAZDA3
s 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
MSRP $17,249 $17,215 $18,635 $13,280 $17,105
Invoice $16,386 $16,092 $16,863 $12,615 $15,994
Destination Charge $545 $545 $540 $515 $545
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 7 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4
Base Engine Displacement 2.3 liters 2.0 liters 1.8 liters 1.5 liters 2.3 liters
Horsepower 155 hp @ 5400 rpm 136 hp @ 6000 rpm 123 hp @ 6000 rpm 108 hp @ 6000 rpm 160 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 152 ft-lbs. @ 3000 rpm 133 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm 118 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm 105 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm 150 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
Driven Wheels all wheel drive front wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive front wheel drive
Limited Slip Differential - Center Standard Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Independent Suspension four-wheel four-wheel four-wheel front four-wheel
Stabilizer Bars front and rear front and rear front and rear front and rear front and rear
Tires P195/55R15
all season
P205/50R16
all season
P205/55R16
all season
P185/60TR15
all season
P205/50VR17
all season
Sunroof Not Available power glass - Optional power glass - Optional power glass - Optional power glass - Optional
Brakes - Front ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc
Brakes - Rear drum drum drum drum disc
Xenon Headlights Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available Optional
Max. Cargo Capacity 60 cu. ft. 40 cu. ft. 53 cu. ft. 33 cu. ft. 31 cu. ft.
City 24 mpg. 26 mpg. 26 mpg. 31 mpg. 25 mpg.
Highway 29 mpg. 35 mpg. 31 mpg. 38 mpg. 32 mpg.
Length 166.5 in. 168.5 in. 171.3 in. 154.1 in. 176.6 in.
Width 67.7 in. 66.7 in. 69.9 in. 66.7 in. 69.1 in.
Height 61 in. 56.8 in. 61.6 in. 60.2 in. 57.7 in.
Weight 2897 lbs. 2729 lbs. 2965 lbs. 2380 lbs. 2826 lbs.
Wheel Base 97.6 in. 103 in. 102.4 in. 93.3 in. 103.9 in.
Ground Clearance Being Researched 6.2 in. 5.9 in. 5.7 in. 5.7 in.
Interior Aerio Focus Matrix xA MAZDA3
Front Headroom 40.6 in. 39.1 in. 40.6 in. 39.6 in. 39.1 in.
Rear Headroom 39 in. 38.6 in. 39.8 in. 38.8 in. 38.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room 53.7 in. 53.5 in. 53.2 in. 50.9 in. 54.9 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 52.9 in. 53.6 in. 52.6 in. Being Researched 54 in.
Front Hip Room 48.8 in. 49.4 in. 51.7 in. 54.6 in. 54.9 in.
Rear Hip Room 49.7 in. 50.7 in. 47.8 in. 53.4 in. 53.9 in.
Front Leg Room 41.4 in. 40.7 in. 41.8 in. 41.3 in. 41.9 in.
Rear Leg Room 35.2 in. 37.6 in. 36.3 in. 37.6 in. 36.3 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 10.2 cu.ft. 18 cu.ft. 21.8 cu.ft. 11.7 cu.ft. 17.1 cu.ft.

 

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