San Francisco: Station
wagons are slowly coming back into style, perhaps because people don't
want to give up the cargo space of their SUV but still want to save
money at the gas pump. The Suzuki Forenza Wagon has SUV-like versatility
with the price of a compact car.
A tightly constructed
interior in the Suzuki Forenza Wagon is much nicer than its $14,000 base
price would suggest and this car has lots of features for the money.
A couple of years ago
it seemed car manufacturers would go to extraordinary lengths to keep
from describing any of their products as a station wagon, probably
because wagons were flushed down the fashion commode around the same
time as parachute pants and scrunch-up socks.
Instead, the car
companies would come up with silly euphemisms - using the words
"active," "sport," "crossover" and "utility" in various combinations -
in a lame attempt to hide the fact their product was, of course, a plain
old station wagon.
Well, wagons are making
a comeback, and for good reasons. They offer SUV-like cargo space
without the top-heavy handling, and they get the same gas mileage as a
family sedan with a slightly spunky attitude. What's not to like? Now
Wagon is no longer a dirty word.
One company jumping
into the wagon mix is Suzuki, which offers a station wagon based on its
mid-size Forenza sedan that starts under $14,000.
For that price you get
a competent family car that's practical and actually fairly
good-looking, but it drives like its price would suggest. The cabin gets
noisy on the highway, its ride is a little bouncy and sloppy, and its
performance is merely adequate. Nothing really stands out about it when
you get behind the wheel. Except, perhaps, what a bargain it is.
Yes, it drives like a
Toyota from 10 years ago, but it also looks and feels more refined than
you'd expect from a car with its ultra-cheap price. The dash is actually
very nice looking and has a solid, well-constructed feel that many cars
lack. The seats are perfectly comfortable, and none of the switches and
buttons feel like they'll fall off if you press too hard, a problem all
too common in low-priced cars.
Another impressive feat
is the amount of standard equipment Suzuki includes on the base model,
the Forenza Wagon S. It comes from the factory with air conditioning, a
CD/cassette stereo player, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and
power windows, locks and mirrors. It's a perfectly livable car, not some
stripped-down beater with crank windows that requires you to pony up
more cash before you'll be comfortable in it.
Step up to the LX
($15,849) and you'll get remote keyless entry, cruise control, fog
lamps, a power sunroof, 15-inch wheels and a leather-wrapped steering
wheel and shift knob. The top-of-the-line EX adds an automatic
transmission and leather seats for $17,449 (the automatic is an $800
option on other models).
All models come with
the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 126 horsepower,
which would feel sluggish with an automatic transmission. With a
five-speed manual in the Forenza I tested, acceleration didn't pose much
of a problem, although I did find myself pushing the engine all the way
to redline more often than on most cars. It also sounded fairly rough
and unpleasant at those high RPMs, so nobody will confuse it with the
silky sound of, say, a Honda.
On a bright note, I
couldn't find anything to complain about from a practicality standpoint.
The cabin was roomy enough for a small family, and cargo room was
cavernous whether the seats were up or down. It can carry 24 cubic feet
of cargo with the seats up or 61 cubic feet with the seats down, which
is enough space for virtually any shopping trip.
It also showed how
wagons became so popular in the first place, offering the comfortable
ride of a car with the cargo space that comes close to that in vans and
SUVs. They're definitely coming back into style. Let's just hope
purveyors of parachute pants don't get the same idea.
Why buy it? It's
oh so practical as a family car, offering a huge amount of cargo space
but driving just like a sedan. It also has more standard features than
you'd expect at its bargain price. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Suzuki Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
jumps on the bandwagon
2006 Suzuki Forenza Wagon
2006 Suzuki Forenza Wagon
Suzuki Internet Media
2006 - 15
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2006 Suzuki Forenza