2004 Suzuki Forenza
This 2004 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Taking on established cars such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic is no easy job, but Suzuki's stylish new Forenza sedan has a decent shot at grabbing a good number of small car buyers.
The Forenza is part of Suzuki's plan to greatly increase U.S. sales by 2007. The new model is sold as a value-packed budget alternative to competitors and has a lot going for it, including a stylish body, modest prices and lots of equipment. There's plenty of space for four tall occupants and more rear leg room than in the Civic, Corolla and other small car rivals.
The fuel-stingy, $12,499-$15,999 Forenza should be cheap to run. It joins Suzuki's funky subcompact Aerio sedan and new midsize Verona sedan in the automaker's expanding car line. Suzuki also offers Vitara and XL-7 sport-utility vehicles, and also has long been known for its motorcycles.
While Suzuki is a Japanese automaker, the Verona and Forenza are built in South Korea by GM Daewoo Auto and Technology. That outfit was formed after General Motors bought part of bankrupt South Korean Daewoo, which largely designed those two cars. GM gave them to its Suzuki affiliate because they didn't fit in the giant automaker's U.S. lineup.
The Forenza doesn't resemble an exotic Italian car, but its slick aerodynamic body helps provide good fuel economy and added stability at today's elevated interstate highway speeds. Enhancing the car's appearance are color-keyed bumpers, door handles, mirrors and bodyside moldings.
There are three trim levels: S, LX and top-line EX. All are well equipped.
Lots of Equipment
The LX adds a power tilt-slide sunroof, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped wheel, fog lights and alloy wheels. The EX adds leather upholstery and door inserts.
The 5-speed manual transmission shifts nicely and is standard in the S and LX. The responsive 4-speed automatic raises the price of those versions by $800, but is standard in the EX.
One benefit of the small engine that you can take to the bank is high fuel economy. The Forenza provides an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway with the manual gearbox and 22 and 30 with the automatic transmission.
It's typical to get lower figures than those provided by the EPA; however, the Forenza I tested with the automatic got 25 mpg in the city and nearly 35 mpg on highways—partly because the car is fairly light at 2,701 to 2,756 pounds.
The all-independent suspension has gas-pressurized shock absorbers and provides a comfortable ride. Potential buyers taking the car for a spin around the block will be impressed, even if roads are rough. Braking with the all-disc setup is acceptable, although the pedal is rather sensitive.
The front bucket seats are rather flat, and the center of the back seat is too hard for comfort. It's best to fold down the rear center armrest, which contains cupholders.
Some Road Noise
The climate system emits a good amount of heat soon after the car is underway, and there's a rear heating duct. All doors have storage pockets.
The sun visor vanity mirrors are practically useless at night because they're not lit. Silver metallic accents brighten the cockpit, but its materials are mostly average.
The nicely assembled Forenza should give Suzuki more presence in the auto market, although some folks might want a larger engine.