Suzuki XL-7 2004 review
April 7, 2004
$3,080 - $4,730
Suzuki has never been one for high-tech, ground-breaking engineering in its production cars but is into refining a tried and true formula.
This philosophy can be seen with the XL-7 which is built on a now unfashionable ladder chassis with the body bolted on and has selectable, high and low range four-wheel drive as well as rear-wheel drive high range for general running around.
Explore the 2004 Suzuki XL-7 Range
This is how ``proper'' four-wheel drives are built despite the profusion of so-called SUV soft-roaders that are dominating new vehicle sales charts.
The Japan-built Zuke does not fall into this ``quasi'' four-wheel drive mould because it can tough it out in heavy going without really being troubled. Put a set of chunky tread tyres on the XL-7 and it will pretty well go anywhere, within reason.
Try doing that in your pretend four-wheel drive soft-roader and you will quickly, almost brutally, learn its limits.
This is the second version of the XL-7, which arrived quickly after the unpopular first edition. Its problem was that the styling was too reminiscent of the smaller Suzuki Grand Vitara and the vehicle was underdone in the engine performance and suspension department.
These areas have been effectively dealt with on the new model with its handsome new ``big eye'' face, revised exterior hardware and a tweaked rear end look.
It has a full-size spare mounted on the rear tailgate and the four-wheel drive selector lever is next to the gearstick.
Power from the 2.7-litre V6 is up from 127kW to 135kW and there is more torque peaking at 250Nm/3300rpm.
But the really big news is the optional five-speed automatic transmission sourced from the same supplier as Lexus.
It makes the XL-7 a beaut city drive and also harnesses the engine's power and torque with precision. The auto also means you don't have to take your hands off the wheel off-road or muck around with a clutch.
Performance is good for a vehicle weighing in at 1635kg relatively light given its size and passenger capacity. Fuel consumption can be on the heavy side if worked hard.
The seven seats are all fitted with three-point seat belts but the rear row should be only considered as children's seats due to limited leg room.
The adjustable middle row is relatively roomy even with large front-seat occupants. Suzuki is in a good position with its cars due to the weaker yen against the Australian dollar, therefore the XL-7 and other Japanese-sourced vehicles are competitively priced and well equipped.
Standard equipment in the XL-7 entry model includes alloy wheels, climate-control dual airconditioning, ABS, dual front air bags, decent CD audio, remote central locking, steering wheel audio controls and power ancillaries.
It is handy off-road, limited only by the road-oriented tyres and rear overhang.
Luggage space is minimal with the seven seats in use.
On-road performance will satisfy most, even with a full crew aboard. The ride is comfy, there is adequate room and the interior is functional if staid.
$3,080 - $4,730