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December 2005
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2006 Suzuki XL-7 With 3rd Row Seats 4 Wheel Drive

The Good:  Economical people mover with 7 seats.  Roomy Interior, Good Ground Clearance.

The Bad:  Uncomfortable Seats, Poor Handling, Quirky looks, Boxy Interior, Outdone by new Grand Vitara model.

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Suzuki's flagship SUV, the versatile XL-7, returns for 2006 with a simplified trim level offering.  With its available third-row seating and strong 2.7-liter six-cylinder 24-valve DOHC engine, available four-wheel drive with low-range gears and rugged body-on-frame construction, the XL-7 is built to tackle just about any type of family adventure.

The exterior design of the XL-7 draws mixed emotion from our staffers. Quirky best describes the headlights up front.  As you walk from front to rear, the XL-7 is boxy and dated.  There are nice touches of chrome on the door handles and beltline trim, and rear windows are tinted a very dark black.  However the overall shape reminds us of an old Toyota Land Cruiser rather than something modern and hip.  We really think the front end needs a massive redo.  Our test car also had fog lamp holes covered in plastic, something we have never seen before on a car.  If you are going to make holes for a fog lamp, why not just throw in the lamps themselves?  For $24,899 you should really have them. 

            The interior of the XL-7 with grey seats and trim is definitely depressing.  While the velour cloth trim makes things feel homely inside, the foamy plastic on top of the dash, doors, and most interior parts feels bad.  Leather seating surfaces and a beige interior color will add the necessary better feeling inside.  Some dials are modern in the Suzuki XL-7 such as the aluminum stereo dials and textured dials for the climate controls, but other parts feel as if they are all thrown together without any matching common theme.  The super long shift lever is not necessary and intrudes into the storage space just behind it.  More thoughtful features are the dual eyeglass holders on the upper console.  Even on our XL-7 without premium package, the steering wheel looked and felt good.

            Seats on the Suzuki XL-7 are not very comfortable and lack any kind of support.  The front seats are flat without any lumbar support or adequate cushioning for long trips. The seating position is fixed too high and cannot be adjusted.  Rear seats do allow you to recline the seatbacks in 2nd and 3rd rows.  The second row seats slide forward on tracks which are visible all the time, another item we did not like.  The third row of seats is large enough to be comfortable only for children but it does offer a large window for a good view.  The second row can fold 60/40 and the third row is a 50/50 folding seat so a large amount of flexibility is available for your adventurous needs.  The Suzuki XL-7 has 43.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row of seats when the third row is folded down.  There is 75.1 cubic feet of cargo room is available with both rows folded down.

New for 2006 is a stereo with MP3/WMA capabilities that is XM Satellite ready.  The quality of the radio system is mediocre.  We found that it cound not receive radio stations clearly in many locations, something we have not experienced in other cars.  This stereo will definitely need replacement in the aftermarket.  A simple tire pressure monitor is also standard on the Suzuki XL-7, providing a light in the instrument cluster warning of low pressure.  It does not tell you which tire is low or what the exact pressure is in each tire.  In cold weather we found the system warning us of low pressure quite often.  The steering wheel offers tilt adjustment only, and we would have liked to see a telescoping feature as well.  We found while driving the driver's rearview mirror to be warped and looking back just made us dizzy.  The location of the front air vents also reflects in the rearview mirrors, a design flaw.  Driving without dimming rearview mirrors is also a bad idea; we would like to have this standard on all cars by now.

For a people mover, the interior is spacious enough and windows are very large for good view of the outdoors.  Overall the interior of the XL-7 needs a modernization.  Parts feel like they did in a car from 1990.  We would like to see design changes inside as well as better parts all around.  There is no flowing character to the interior and everything feels boxy with rounded edges, very much like the shape of the car.

            Engine power is slow to come on and gear changes are noticeable.  In four wheel drive mode, accessed by a touch of a button on the dash, the Suzuki XL-7 feels very much like a truck, grinding and making noises while turning.  We found, in the one inch of icy snow we had during our tests, that the four wheel drive mode offered much better traction and control. 

The engine is also quite loud when pushed hard and we could feel the sluggish nature of such low horsepower pulling a large vehicle such as this XL-7.  The V6 engine with 2.7 liters delivers 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.  The Suzuki XL-7 is capable of towing 3000 pounds.  Fuel economy is an estimated 17 city and 22 highway, our tests resulted in about 20 miles per gallon. The transmission has two operating modes: "Normal" mode helps maximize fuel economy, while "Power" mode optimizes the transmission shift points to minimize gear hunting while climbing hills or towing.  We found that for good responsive driving the power mode, which is similar to the "Overdrive Off" mode in most cars, was best. 

            The Suzuki XL-7 moves on the highway kind of like a horse running, you keep on bouncing along the way.  The car moves up and down way too much on highways and roads.  It is not very solid and feels unresponsive.  There are plenty of other choices in the market such as the new Suzuki Grand Vitara which will drive much better than this XL-7.  Road noise and general wind noise comes from most directions and the interior is loud at highway speeds.  In off-road conditions the XL-7 behaves more like a truck and that may be good for certain drivers who frequently go off the beaten path.  Ground clearance is rated at 7.6 inches and having the wheels towards the very front and rear allows for decent amount of off-roading adventure. Body lean is noticeable and the Suzuki XL-7 cannot be driven fast without a tipsy feeling. 

            Comprehensive safety engineering is at the foundation of every vehicle Suzuki builds and the XL-7 provides clear evidence with its performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) frontal crash test.  The Suzuki XL-7  earned a "Good" overall rating in the rigorous IIHS 40-mph frontal off-set crash test - the highest rating available.  An advanced weight-sensing front passenger airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS), advanced dual-stage front airbag SRS and front seatbelt pretensioners improve safety for the front occupants.

            All 2006 Suzuki models are covered by "America 's #1 Warranty".  The 100,000-mile, seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty offers distinct advantages over other manufacturer warranties.  The transferable powertrain limited warranty covers the engine, transmission and transfer case and front- and rear-wheel-drive systems.  This is on top of the 36,000-mile / 3 year bumper to bumper new-vehicle limited warranty.  The Suzuki powertrain limited warranty is designed to boost resale or trade-in value and underscores the corporation's confidence in its product quality.  Roadside assistance is also available during the bumper to bumper period.  Warranty repairs also give you a loaner car through enterprise rent-a-car. 

            Our test car, a four-wheel-drive XL-7 with third row of seats, starts off at $24,899.  Included for 2006 is the ABS system.  The optional Premium Package adds leather seating for seven, a six-disc in-dash AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA/XM Satellite Radio-ready audio system with seven speakers including a subwoofer, power sunroof, fog lights and running boards at an MSRP of $25,499.  The real world cost of this SUV is going to be much less however.  We felt that the XL-7 is designed for someone looking for the ability to hold seven passengers, mostly kids, with a budget in the low twenty-thousand range.  The vehicle is more of a commuting-around-town type of car and not suited for extended road trips or any serious off-roading.




Base Pricing 23,902 24,899
Destination 595 595


  2006 Suzuki XL-7
4dr SUV 4WD 7 Passenger (2.7L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Jeep Liberty
Renegade 4dr SUV 4WD (3.7L 6cyl 6M)
2006 Chevrolet Equinox
LT 4dr SUV AWD (3.4L 6cyl 5A)
2006 Hyundai Santa Fe
GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.7L 6cyl 4A)
2006 Saturn VUE
4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
MSRP $24,899 $24,440 $24,875 $23,195 $23,050
Invoice $23,903 $22,840 $23,184 $21,757 $21,260
Destination Charge $595 $660 $590 $600 $600
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V6 V6 V6 V6 V6
Base Engine Displacement 2.7 liters 3.7 liters 3.4 liters 2.7 liters 3.5 liters
Valvetrain 24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
12 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
12 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
Horsepower 185 hp @ 6000 rpm 210 hp @ 5200 rpm 185 hp @ 5200 rpm 170 hp @ 6000 rpm 250 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque 184 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 235 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 210 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm 181 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 242 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
Tires P235/60R16
all season
all season
all season
all season
all season
Max. Cargo Capacity 72 cu. ft. 69 cu. ft. 69 cu. ft. 78 cu. ft. 64 cu. ft.
Max. Towing Capacity 3000 lbs. 5000 lbs. 3500 lbs. 2500 lbs. 3500 lbs.
EPA Mileage Estimates
City 17 mpg. 18 mpg. 19 mpg. 18 mpg. 19 mpg.
Highway 22 mpg. 22 mpg. 25 mpg. 23 mpg. 25 mpg.
Length 187.4 in. 174.6 in. 188.8 in. 177.2 in. 181.3 in.
Width 70.1 in. 71.8 in. 71.4 in. 72.7 in. 71.5 in.
Height 68.5 in. 71.9 in. 69.3 in. 66 in. 66.5 in.
Weight 3781 lbs. 4011 lbs. 3776 lbs. 3752 lbs. 3631 lbs.
Wheel Base 110.2 in. 104.2 in. 112.5 in. 103.1 in. 106.6 in.
Ground Clearance 7.6 in. 9 in. 8 in. 8.1 in. 8 in.
Interior XL-7 Liberty Equinox Santa Fe VUE
Front Headroom 40 in. 40.7 in. 40.9 in. 39.6 in. 40.4 in.
Rear Headroom 39.2 in. 42.2 in. 40.1 in. 39.2 in. 40.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room 52.8 in. 56.5 in. 55.7 in. 56.3 in. 55.4 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 53 in. 56.5 in. 55.9 in. 56.5 in. 55.3 in.
Front Hip Room 50.7 in. 57 in. 51.1 in. 54.3 in. 51.6 in.
Rear Hip Room 50.6 in. 47.4 in. 51.3 in. 53.9 in. 52.7 in.
Front Leg Room 41.4 in. 40.8 in. 41.2 in. 41.6 in. 41.2 in.
Rear Leg Room 31.4 in. 37.2 in. 40.2 in. 36.8 in. 36.8 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 6.6 cu.ft. 31 cu.ft. 35.2 cu.ft. 30.5 cu.ft. 30.8 cu.ft.


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Privacy Policy: does not collect any personal information about its visitors thus your privacy is always protected.