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2005 Suzuki Reno

Tracking through Missouri hills on roads that follow the Mississippi River to Hannibal, we're steering the latest Suzuki car. It's the Reno, a curvy hatchback that acts lively and looks rather cool.

Reno has four doors for passengers and a hatch lid at the tail to access the aft cargo compartment. Its cabin is spacious with room for five on comfortable seats and lots of convenience features aboard. And the shapely body appears slick and sophisticated, thanks to sensuous styling by Pininfarina, the Italian design studio responsible for some of the most beautiful cars in the world for exotic brands like Ferrari.

Unlike Pininfarina's typical mega-bucks car designs, Reno comes with value-packed price points honed to a keen edge. The tags dip as low as $13,449. That's the MSRP for Reno in base S trim.

Reno Interior

Yet Reno S stocks so much gear — air conditioning, dual exterior mirrors with internal heat elements, power controls for windows and door locks, a premium audio kit with eight speakers plus CD/MP3 deck, tabs on the steering wheel for controlling the audio system, a tachometer in the instrument cluster, plus variable intermittent wipers, remote releases for hatch and fuel doors, a disc brake hanging off each wheel and cabin safety equipment including frontal air bags and seat-mounted side air bags.

Reno LX as the mid-level trim starts at $15,349, while top model Reno EX with a four-speed automatic shifter caps the series at only $16,949. Such low figures typically mark a car of questionable power and cheap equipment, although that's not the way Suzuki works it with Reno. Conformed in front-wheel-drive (FWD) format for the compact class, Reno in every trim has significant content.

The sole powertrain is a thrifty four-cylinder engine constructed in Australia by Holden, a subsidiary of General Motors from Down Under. General Motors also owns part of Suzuki and the two companies share in joint ventures.

Reno's international pedigree — the Japanese automaker working with Italian stylists and a powertrain out of Australia -- also extends to South Korea where the vehicle is produced by GM-Daewoo Automotive and Technology Company (GM-DAT), a Korean manufacturing group forged from key sections of the Daewoo company that General Motors acquired following Daewoo's demise.

Despite the impressive list of components and suppliers, Reno's price points rank it at the bottom of the list among all compact imports. Still, Suzuki supports Reno with the Open Road Promise warranty program, which extends well beyond protection for other vehicles. Suzuki insures Reno's powertrain for seven years or 100,000 miles and the warranty is transferable to succeeding owners and free of deductible limits for covered items.

Also included with the Open Road Promise warranty is a three-year or 36,000-mile roadside assistance program (covering tire changes, jump-starts, lockout service, mechanical first aid and towing to a Suzuki service center) plus a rental car provided for up to five days during extended warranty repairs.

Reno is a new vehicle coming to Suzuki during the automaker's five-year mission to triple sales in the North American market. It joins two new Suzuki sedans — Verona and Forenza — also with sensuous styling and a production line via GM-DAT in Korea.

Reno rides on the same platform that underpins the compact Forenza and it employs the same mechanical equipment, including the Holden engine. Trims are also parallel with S, LX and EX. Our drive tests tracing the course of the Mississippi River in Missouri occurred in a Reno LX with manual shifter.

Reno Hatch

Equipment added above the S trim for Reno LX includes 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels, foglamps in the front fascia, a power sunroof with tilt and slide movements, cruise control and remote keyless entry system, the steering wheel and shifter knob wrapped in leather, and a storage bin tucked below the front passenger's seat.

The Reno EX edition tips further toward luxury mode with the four-speed automatic transmission on tap plus seats upholstered in soft leather hides.Optional equipment for Reno LX and EX covers a four-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) for $500. Also, the automatic transaxle may be added to Reno S or LX trim for $800.The 2.0-liter four-pack engine for Reno musters 126 hp at 5600 rpm with 131 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. It meets ULEV (ultra low emissions vehicle) emission requirements and earns fuel economy scores up to 30 mpg. We noticed the plant produces goosy throttle responses through lower gears with the manual transmission and that's handy for city driving with so many stoplight starts.

The ride quality feels smooth and comfortable, thanks to a compliant independent suspension system with MacPherson struts in front and a dual-link design at the rear and gas-pressurized shock absorbers at all four posts. Steering is precise and quick through a rack and pinion arrangement with speed-pressurized power assistance. And the fast-acting brakes show ventilated discs in front with solid discs in back.

Reno's passenger compartment seems big for a compact car, with 42 inches of legroom for front riders and 36.7 inches of legroom in the backseat. Two contoured bucket seats mount up front on either side of a padded console, while the rear bench, notched with seats for two but space for three, has three height-adjustable headrests and a seatback that splits in two sections of 40/60 percent and folds down separately.

Design of the dashboard is clean and linear with an arching brow over the instrument cluster. Three large analog gauges in the instrument panel contain silver bezels with white-on-black notations and red needles for easy reading.

2005 Suzuki Reno
Compact 5-door hatchback
Model options:

Reno S
Reno LX
Reno EX

102.4 inches
Overall length:
169.1 inches
Engine size:

DOHC 2.0-L I4


MT: Manual/5
AT: Auto/4

Rear/Front Drive:


Power rack and pinion

Power 4-disc

Air bags:

2 (front)
2 (side)

Fuel mileage city/hwy:

22/30 mpg


Reno S MT: $ 13,449
Reno S AT: $ 14,249
Reno LX MT: $ 15,349
Reno LX AT: $ 16,149
Reno EX AT: $ 16,949

For More Information: Suzuki Model Guide