With its sibling sporting the name "Grand," perception of Suzuki's XL7 might be a bit misleading. This is actually the larger of the two sport utilities off Suzuki's Grand Vitara base. Think of this flagship SUV as "extra long, seating seven," and it makes more sense. It also does seat seven, sometimes, with everyone stretched out in greater comfort.
XL7 came on board some six years ago, as larger families or those wanting more wiggle room were looking for something beyond the scope of a compact SUV. As a midsize, XL7 offered an answer for both. Now, for 2007, Suzuki updates its topline sport utility and loads it with goodies for a practical entry base price of $22,899 when it goes on sale mid November.
For 2007, expect a lot more standard features on three well-rounded trim levels in XL7, Luxury and Limited editions. All but Limited are available as five-seaters, but all seven-seaters have Nivomat self-leveling rear suspensions. All are available as front- or optional all-wheel drive, a $1,600 add-on.
Interior trims depend on the model. The mid-line Luxury gets touches of leather, a power driver's seat, wood accents and 17-inch alloy wheels, with a $24,599 starting price. Plunk down an extra $800 for the optional tilt-slide sunroof. Top-line Limited models -- standard for seven, starting at $27,949 -- have a load of amenities inside and out, including rear spoiler, fog lamps, upgraded roof racks, premium XM Satellite radio, antiglare mirror with compass, DVD and remote start. Touch screen nav is part of the $2,200 Platinum Touring package.
Safety takes a front seat in the XL7 with tire monitoring system, electronic brake-force distribution, stability systems and a full complement of airbags including side curtains. It's powered by a 3.6-liter 252-horsepower V-6, with five-speed automatic with "manumatic" manual-type controls.
XL7s, currently on the road, average 17 city and 22 highway miles to the gallon with all-wheel-drive, and about 18/22 with front-drive. That, boasts Suzuki, makes it one of the most fuel efficient seven-seater SUV's on the market.