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2007 Suzuki XL7 Road Test




Excelling with the XL7

2007 Suzuki XL7By Bill Roebuck

The XL in the Suzuki XL7 moniker must stand for extra-large, as this fully revamped intermediate-size crossover SUV is the largest vehicle the company has ever made. Suzuki's well known for its capable, quick and small passenger cars, so to see such a big Suzuki on the road makes me do a double-take.

Keep in mind, though, that Suzuki, in a sense, shares this model with General Motors, which owns a small percentage of Suzuki. The XL7 uses the same platform as the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent. It's even made in the same facility as these other models -- the joint-venture CAMI factory in Ingersoll, Ont. So despite Suzuki's Japanese roots, this is a made-in-Canada vehicle. (In case you're wondering, I have not yet driven the comparable GM models, so cannot say which is better.)

It's quite a nice size too, with lots of interior room and storage capacity. Even so, it's not bloated like some SUVs. And its relatively narrow frame makes it easily garagable. I think its slim design and easy-to-drive character makes it an ideal family vehicle.

2007 Suzuki XL7The all-new 2007 XL7 SUV is larger and more powerful than the previous generation XL-7. With its unibody construction and light steering, it feels quite nimble -- certainly car-like -- and its 3.6-litre V6 engine, supplied by General Motors, provides plenty of boost.

The engine is rated at 252 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, giving the XL7 great get-up-and-go, both from a stop and for highway passing. Towing capacity is rated up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb).

The five-speed automatic is innocuous, doing its job without any fuss. It also features a manumatic option so you can shift up or down at will. I only used that feature to keep the XL7 in first gear during a few drives in tedious stop-and-go rush hour traffic along Toronto's often-congested Q.E.W. highway.

I'm sure that kind of driving affected the fuel economy. I got about 450 km from the 70-litre tank (when full, the built-in trip computer predicted a distance-to-empty range of 530 km). The Canadian government's EnerGuide chart rates the AWD model's fuel economy at 13.5 L/100 km (21 mpg) for the city and 9.5 L/100 km (30 mpg) for the highway, which is not great overall, but not too bad for a vehicle of this size and power.

All models seat seven. The second- and third-row seats fold almost flat to extend the cargo capacity. Maximum cargo volume is 2,690 litres (95.0 cu ft), while the payload rating is 511 kg (1,127 lb).

Our tester was the JLX AWD NAVI model (NAVI is for the dashboard navigation system), AWD is for all-wheel-drive, and JLX is the designation for the XL7's fully loaded model. Other trims include the front-wheel drive JX and JLX, and an all-wheel drive JX, as well as a JLX DVD model.

The model tested was priced at $37,995 (plus $1,295 delivery); the base model -- the FWD JX -- is $30,995. Even the JX is very well equipped. AWD adds $3,000 to either trim level.

2007 Suzuki XL7The on-demand AWD system uses a rear-mounted electronic clutch pack to deliver torque to the rear wheels as necessary. During a miserable ice storm, the XL7 performed admirably. My only complaint was that the windshield wipers got loaded up with a large amount of ice, even with the defrost on full. Heated glass in the wiper rest area, as some other vehicles have, might have helped. I also noticed that the side mirrors are not heated.

Now ice storms don't come often, but when you're driving a utility truck with off-road ambitions, these are features I personally would expect to be included.

However, I was surprised at the number of standard features that come with the XL7, even in the base JX model, such as self-levelling halogen headlights with automatic on and off; variable intermittent wipers, body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles (usually they're painted black in the base models); roof rails; aluminum alloy wheels; a block heater; a full-size spare tire; and an engine immobilizer. That's an impressive list.

2007 Suzuki XL7I found the XL7's navigation system was very easy to use and accurate in its directions around the Toronto area. XM satellite radio is included with the audio system with the NAVI package.

Safety features are comprehensive, with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), dual front airbags, side curtain airbags for all three rows, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control, electronic stability program, and tire pressure monitoring.

Drawbacks to the XL7 are few, but there are some. The rear window is quite high, limiting the view of vehicles behind you (I could only see the roofs of cars immediately behind me). Huge C and D pillars also create a large blind spot.

As well, the turning circle isn't great. At 12.7 metres (41.8 ft.) curb-to-curb, it was a challenge to manoeuvre in tight parking lots. Also, I found some of the controls and switches to be in illogical positions.

If your needs call for a spacious vehicle that's not too big; has good power and towing capacity; has flexible seating and cargo-handling abilities for kids, dogs and cottaging; includes a full range of safety features; and is really easy to drive, then the XL7 is certainly worthy of your consideration.

Bill Roebuck is the editor of CarTest.ca and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

Posted April 1, 2007 (c) CarTest.ca 2007

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