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2004 new car guide, model guide, new car reviews, by brand


Expect to find more vehicles in the stable of Suzuki as this automaker from Japan embarks on a five-year mission to triple sales in the American market. Once regarded as the builder of itsy-bitsy economy cars fitted with tepid powerplants, Suzuki in recent years has focused on a trio of sport-utility wagons plus a subcompact called Aerio in conventional sedan and unconventional four-door hatchback format.

But for 2004 Suzuki rolls out a curvy new four-door sedan featuring sensuous Italian styling points and standard V6 powertrain. Named Verona, after the Italian city where Romeo once courted Juliet, the new sedan for the mid-size class will become the flagship for Suzuki's fleet.

It will be joined by another new sedan, this one of compact dimensions, called the Forenza. It too shows Italian influence in curvy sheetmetal surfaces and premium appointments for three well-equipped trim variations. For Aerio a stronger four-cylinder engine drops into both the sedan and crossover wagon, while the sedan also earns more standard equipment.

All three of Suzuki's sport-utility vehicles - Vitara, Grand Vitara and XL-7 - appear in 2004 editions with changes in trim designations, new cabin fixtures and more equipment available. The XL-7 gains a new five-speed automatic transmission and push-button operation of the four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, with four trim levels including two with third-row seat in place.

Grand Vitara with V6 power comes in the well-equipped LX trim and loaded EX, and both are available with two-wheel-drive (2WD) or 4WD traction and the option of a new power tilt-and-slide sunroof. Vitara Four-Door gets a power boost from a V6 engine and switches the nameplate to Vitara V6 as a reflection of that change, but Suzuki's Vitara Two-Door soft-top rig fades away.

Suzuki Verona
2004 Suzuki Verona

The new front-wheel-drive (FWD) flagship sedan from Suzuki fits in the mid-size class and supports a spacious five-seat passenger compartment loaded with luxury features.

Adopting an Italian name, Verona shows sleek exterior styling in the manner of premium European touring sedans with foglamps in the front bumper and twin-light halogen headlamps on the prow. Sensuous body sculpting was developed by Italdesign of Italy, while Porsche of Germany contributed to the design of the aluminum in-line six-cylinder engine, which has dual overhead cams and a 2.5-liter displacement. It produces 155 hp and mates with a four-speed adaptive automatic transmission with step-gate shifter.

Verona has three trims -- S, LX and EX -- with features building to the level of a luxury car. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a keyless entry system and cruise control, plus in-dash CD and cassette decks with six speakers.

The list of options extends to an automatic climate system, leather seat upholstery, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with traction control system (TCS), eight-way power controls for the driver's bucket and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Read our Review: Suzuki Verona                                
Suzuki Forenza
2004 Suzuki Forenza

Another new FWD sedan from Suzuki fits into the compact class and brings premium equipment. It carries an international pedigree with exterior styling from Italy and assembly in South Korea from GM Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT).

Power comes from a twin-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves 119 hp and teams with a five-speed manual or four-speed-automatic transmission. Three trim levels -- S, LX, EX -- increase the equipment load in stages. All contain standard gear like four-wheel disc brakes, speed-sensitive power steering, heated exterior mirrors, a tilt steering wheel, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, plus a stereo AM/FM radio with CD player and eight speakers.

Suzuki adds such options as a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, aluminum alloy wheels, four-wheel ABS, fog lamps, leather upholstery and cruise control.

Suzuki Aerio
2004 Suzuki Aerio

Suzuki's subcompact series provides an interior package where so much space has been carved out of such a little car. Both sedan and hatchback share a chassis, powertrain and mechanical hardware.

Aerio the sedan has two issues, a price-leading base model Aerio S and deluxe Aerio GS, which has equipment that matches the sole hatchback, Aerio SX. The cabin layout includes a pair of bucket seats up front and two bolstered seats sculpted into a rear bench divided by a fold-down armrest.

All Aerios stock a new dual-cam 2.3-liter engine that develops 155 hp. A short-stick manual five-speed is standard for Aerio SX hatchback and Aerio S sedan, but an electronic automatic four-speed transaxle is available on SX and GS models. In addition, Aerio GS sedan and SX hatchback with the automatic shifter offer a version with all-wheel-drive (AWD) for traction on slick pavement.

Cool Beige Metallic is a new color for the sedan, but Cosmic Blue and Brilliant Yellow shades work for the hatchback.

Suzuki Vitara V6
2004 Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki's pint-size four-door hardtop SUV sports a new 2.5-liter V6 engine that makes 165 hp.

Charcoal-tinted bumpers and fender flares with integrated mud guards also go to the one trim, LX, which comes with 2WD or 4WD traction.

Standard equipment extends to air conditioning and power windows/locks/mirrors, a keyless remote entry system, tilting steering wheel and in-dash CD player.

Suzuki Grand Vitara
2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara

This four-door wagon in the compact class is a deluxe treatment of the Vitara V6. It totes the same 2.5-liter V6 but adds unique exterior dressings and interior equipment. For 2004, there are two trims, LX and EX, both in 2WD or 4WD. The latter puts a two-speed transfer case in the four-by mechanism for shift-on-the-fly convenience when running at highway speed.

Cabin appointments range from air conditioning with automatic climate control to power windows and door locks and mirrors, cruise control, a CD deck in the dash with seven speakers, and a keyless remote entry system.

Suzuki XL-7
2004 Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki's largest SUV carries as many as seven riders on three rows of seats in a cabin that stretches about a foot longer than the Grand Vitara. The exterior design appears more sophisticated and serious, as interior appointments rise in tone and quality.

Trim designations change for 2004 to include multiple tiers. The LX is a five-seat version with five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission in 2WD and 4WD. LX III offers the third-row seat option to raise cabin capacity to seven passengers. EX loads appointments in five-seat configuration, while EX III does the same but brings the third-row option. It also stocks rear air conditioning and side-step running boards.

Power for all stems from a 2.7-liter V6 that generates 183 hp.                                                                                                                    



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