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2007 Suzuki XL7

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San Francisco: Suzuki's new XL7 may look like a crossover, but it still has some elements of a truck-based design with rails underneath the body. I like the way it drives, but quality inside the Suzuki XL7 is mediocre. It's not ugly enough to make you gag, but it also won't produce any wows for its fit and finish.

The Suzuki XL-7 has always been a plucky SUV. Even as its competitors switched to car-based platforms that are immensely more comfortable and better to drive in town, the XL-7 stuck with a truck frame that seemed to be made from pine logs and mud. It drove like a four-wheeler that suddenly sprouted a roof and some doors.

That's fine for people who need the off-road capability of a real SUV, but it was torture for people like me, people who wouldn't drive off-road if they were being chased by a nuclear-armed Godzilla.

So, I was relieved when the new XL7, yes, suddenly without its hyphen, showed up at my doorstep looking like a car-based crossover. I figured Suzuki had finally gotten some common sense kicked into its head and turned its off-road SUV into an on-road one.

I stepped into the cabin, a nice improvement over the old XL-7, and drove two feet in the parking lot before I realized this wasn't a car-based SUV at all. The pine logs underneath had merely been upgraded to oak.

Turns out the new XL7 has an unusual chassis design that is part crossover and part truck. It's built with a unibody frame just like a family car, but it also has full-length rails under the body for added strength.

That means, on the comfort spectrum, it drives somewhere in between a really nice truck and a really bad car. The ride is certainly an improvement over the old XL-7. But that's like becoming the best pitcher in the Rangers' bullpen, it's just not that hard to do.

Inside, you'll find the same value-minded interior Suzuki SUVs are known for. It's not too luxurious, although a wide expanse of fake wood trim in high-end models makes the same statement as a fake Louis Vuitton handbag. It shows you know what nice stuff looks like, but still says you can't afford the real thing.

Space is the XL7's strong point. It comes with three rows of seats that are surprisingly comfortable and roomy, and the back two rows easily fold down for carrying cargo. If that's not enough, the front passenger seat folds flat too.

It's an awful lot of SUV, or crossover, or whatever it is, for the money.

It starts around $23,000, which is a bargain price for a seven-passenger SUV. Still, I think this vehicle needs to pick sides. Either it's an off-road SUV or an on-road crossover.

Otherwise, it will remain what it is today, a very affordable, seven-passenger SUV, that's mediocre both on and off the pavement. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that for the price.

INFOBOX: What was tested? The 2007 Suzuki XL7 Limited 2WD with a base price of $27,949. Options: Platinum touring package ($2,200). MSRP price as tested: $30,149.

Why avoid it? It tries to be comfortable on the pavement and capable off the road, but it really excels at neither.

Why buy it? It has a lot of space for the money and retains some off-road cred. 

By Derek Price  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Suzuki Home Page

Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  This Suzuki SUV needs to pick sides
Topic: The 2007 Suzuki XL7 Limited 2WD
Word Count:  636
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Suzuki XL7 Limited 2WD
Photo Credits:  Suzuki XL7 Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 41

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2007 Suzuki XL7

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