SAN FRANCISCO: The
latest trend in new vehicles is the "crossover" models that attempt to combine
the best features of a small sport utility vehicle and a four-door sedan. Suzuki has
entered this market niche with the all new for 2002 Aerio SX, standing for "Sport
Crossover." Plus there is a traditional sedan version of the Aerio too.
The Aerio replaces the Suzuki Esteem that will be dropped at the end of the 2002
model year. The "love it or hate it" highly aerodynamic styling of the SX is
definitely distinctive, though it has a marked resemblance to the more pricey Toyota
Matrix and Pontiac Vibe crossovers. The sedan is more conventional looking with its
regular trunk, but still different looking enough compared to other sub-compact sedans.
Only one engine is available, a fantastic little 2-liter four-cylinder with dual
overhead camshafts (DOHC) and four-valves-per-cylinder. The engine produces a mighty
141-horsepower at 5700 rpm and 135 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. These figures are
very impressive for this class of vehicles and thus performance is quite good. Either a
five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission can be ordered. All models get 26
miles-per-gallon in city driving with both the manual and automatic transmissions. On the
highway fuel economy ranges from 32-33 mpg for the manual and 31 mpg for the automatic
plus the fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons.
While the Aerio SX now comes only in one model, the sedan comes in base S plus the
better-equipped GS version. Suzuki plans to add a four-wheel-drive option to the Aerio SX
this fall. All models are quite roomy considering their external dimensions are only about
14 feet long. This "tall" car has lots of headroom and is very comfortable. Seat
height is prefect for easy entry and exit and they all have very wide doors. Visibility,
especially over the steeply sloping hood is very good, though the tiny front A-pillar
windows are a bit weird, but kind of cool looking.
The interior design and materials used are simple and look quite durable. More
noticeable is the tiny, slit-like instrument panel with a digital speedometer that gives
speed only in numerals. The smallish graphic tachometer and other gauges are a little hard
to read in the daytime, but much better at night. The radio, heat and air conditioning
controls are all okay and easy to use. There are a sufficient number of cup holders and
storage compartments plus a tray under the passenger seat. There is lots of cargo space
and much more when the split rear seats are folded forward.
Prices for the Aerio start at $13,999 for the base Aerio S and climb up to $15,999 for
the Aerio SX with an automatic transmission. Interestingly, all the cars can come with
anti-lock brakes as separate models with a price differential of $500 more. While at first
glance these prices might seem steep, the Aerios come very well equipped for this market
segment. Standard equipment on the S includes air conditioning, AM/FM/CD sound system,
rear window defroster, split-folding rear seat and power steering, windows and mirrors.
Standard items on the GS and SX also include power door locks, cruise control, 5-spoke
alloy wheels, rear armrests, remote keyless entry and a rear spoiler. Indeed, the only
option is floor mats for $75.
The Suzuki Aerio is worthy of a serious look if you want a versatile and differently
designed car. Buy your SX in Naples Yellow or Bright Red and it is bound to get a lot of
attention and "cool car" comments. Plus overall the handling and braking is
quite competent, and that adds up to a very fun-to-drive vehicle. This is a lot of car for
the money in todays 5-door crossover vehicle market. By Bill Siuru & Shawn Stewart © AutoWire.Net
- San Francisco
Suzuki Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Column Name: A Cool Car in Crossovers
Topic: 2002 Suzuki Aerio
Word Count: 692
Photo Caption: The 2002 Suzuki Aerio
Photo Credits: Suzuki Internet Media
Series #: 2002 - 17
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