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Suzuki: The Right Vehicles at the Right Time

July 2008, by Paul Dexler - Also by this author


No matter how few vehicles are in your fleet, when gas prices crossed the $4 mark, you probably began taking a very hard look at those vehicles, especially those you were going to replace soon.

For this reason, the line of vehicles imported by American Suzuki Motors has moved the company to the forefront of many fleet operators' considerations.

A History Lesson

A little history is in order. Suzuki began in the early 20th Century by building cloth weaving looms. The company branched out into transportation after World War II with a small motor that could be mounted on a bicycle.

This success led to motorcycle development, and by the early '50s, Suzuki motorcycles were winning races. In 1963, Suzuki motorcycles became available in the U.S. market, where they have remained a major player ever since.

By the end of the '50s, Suzuki had launched its first car, the Suzulight. It was considered advanced for its day, incorporating features that are still a part of the Japanese microcar market. Other larger models followed, and the company entered the U.S. small vehicle marketplace in 1963 with the Samurai compact SUV. On the world scene, the Swift subcompact was selling well across Asia, and had established a reputation for quality and reliability.

Fast forward to today. Suzuki sells more than two million automobiles around the world, on top of its sales of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and outboard motors. And since the company has specialized in smaller vehicles, its products are properly-sized for the current market.

Here is a brief look at Suzuki's North American fleet.

Current Vehicles

Suzuki Auto's 2009 line of vehicles includes the four-door SX4 Sport, five-door SX4 Crossover, XL7 midsize SUV, Grand Vitara compact SUV and the Equator midsize pickup truck. The company will also be adding the upscale Kizashi mid-size sedan as a 2010 model.

Business Fleet spoke with David Boldt, Suzuki's manager of product PR, to get the best angle on the company's vehicles for fleet use.

Boldt noted that the Grand Vitara and XL7 are doing well in the marketplace, and the SX4 is increasing in popularity. He added that fleets are considering the Grand Vitara and XL7 SUVs because they offer more than some of their competitors at a lower overall cost.

Suzuki vehicles feature a fully transferable 100,000-mile, seven-year zero-deductible limited powertrain warranty, offering buyers greater peace of mind.

The SX4 Series

Boldt was also excited about the increasing availability of the SX4 Sport, the sedan version of the SX4 Crossover. This uniquely-styled compact sedan offers a handsome exterior, a roomy interior and an EPA fuel economy rating of 23/31, even when equipped with an automatic transmission.

The SX4 Crossover, mechanically the same as the SX4 Sport sedan, is offered with full-time all-wheel drive as standard equipment. Similar to the sedan, it features the 2.0L DOHC engine and choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions. Both models have disc brakes and independent suspension on all four wheels. The Crossover has theatre-style seating, allowing the rear passengers to see over those in front.

Overall equipment is extensive for the price class, with power brakes and mirrors, central locking, air conditioning and power windows as part of the spec.

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