2005 Suzuki Reno
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The small new Suzuki Reno is right on target because there's a move in America toward functional, distinctive 4-door hatchback autos by mostly cost-conscious young buyers.
The 2005 Reno is nothing more than a hatchback version of Suzuki's compact Forenza sedan, which has a conventional trunk. But the Reno's hatchback style gives it a sportier edge and more utility.
The Reno is made for Suzuki by South Korea's Daewoo, which no longer produces vehicles with its own name—but also assembles the Suzuki Verona midsize sedan with cooperation from General Motors.
The front-wheel-drive Reno comes in entry S, midrange LX and top-line EX trim levels and has attractive list prices from $13,449 to $16,949.
Count on significant dealer discounts because Suzuki lacks the name recognition of, say, a Chevrolet, Toyota or Honda, and is shooting for much higher sales in America.
On the other hand, don't expect the Reno to have the resale value of established Japanese makes.
The LX adds items including a power sunroof, cruise control, remote keyless entry and alloy wheels. The EX adds an automatic transmission, leather upholstery and a standard 4-speed automatic transmission.
Safety items include front side-mounted airbags and 4-wheel disc brakes. Anti-lock brakes are an option.
Suzuki said my test Reno EX was unusual in that it had a 5-speed manual gearbox instead of the automatic transmission and carried the same $16,149 list price of the lower-line Reno LX with an automatic.
However, I was happy with the test car because the manual transmission helps provide the most acceleration with the Reno's 2.0-liter 126-horsepower 4-cylinder engine.
Average Highway Acceleration
Highway fuel economy is pretty good, at an estimated 30 mpg. But city economy is rather low for a 2,700-pound economy car with a small engine, at an estimated 22 mpg. A driver can get a few more miles per gallon in town by shifting immediately from first to third or fourth gears; the engine has sufficient torque to handle such "short shifting" without protest.
However, the clutch and gearshift lever have long throws that don't encourage lots of shifting—or sporty driving.
Don't Push Hard
The Reno is styled by Italy's famous Italdesign studio. But while smooth, the styling isn't very impressive. After all, there's only so much that can be done to make a small 4-door hatchback look distinctive.
Color is important with this car—the brighter the better. For instance, my test Reno drew some second glances because it had extremely bright red paint, which enhances the appearance of nearly all small cars.
Instruments can be quickly read, and the front bucket seats provide good side support when zipping through curves.
Front cupholders are a little too far back on the console, but are decently sized. All doors have handy storage pockets.
The Reno needs more refinement and highway performance, but is nicely equipped and generally attractive for the money. The long warranty should draw new shoppers to Suzuki showrooms, just as such a warranty did for Hyundai and Kia. Let's hope that Suzuki gets rid of the Reno's rough edges.