Suzuki Forenza Wagon 2005: The Weekly Driver

As an entry level wagon, the 2005 Suzuki Forenza offers budget-minded buyers a spacious wagon with a good supply of standard features. But as a debut vehicle, it’s also unproven in the resale market and has shortcomings that ideally define its position in the marketplace.

My weekly test drive was the LX wagon, one of 10 available Forenza models in 2005. The 2.0-liter, 16-value, 126-horsepower engine has a four-speed automatic transmission, the only option.

The vehicle has gas good mileage estimates for its class, and the wagon accelerates adequately in city scenarios. But it’s sluggish and needs a full-throttle jolt on the steady highway inclines or in a quickly needed lane-change situation.

The Forenza wagon isn’t particularly quiet on the open road and the ride quality is marginal, with bumps easily felt and the overall feel a little stiff. But as an economically priced wagon the Forenza also has several features that warrant its consideration.

The exterior of the vehicle is designed nicely, with a contoured body, alloy wheels, fog lamps, and a power tilt slide sunroof. My test vehicle’s test color was listed as “Fantasy Black,” and the exterior was complemented by light gray, cloth seats.

Several passengers mentioned that while Forenza looks small from the outside, they were surprised by the interior spaciousness. One 6-foot-2 friend sat in the back seat and had more than a one-inch clearance. He said the headroom was more than he’s had in the back seats of some SUVs.

The same is true from the driver’s seat perspective. As a 6-foot driver, I had good head clearance and leg room. The spacious interior extends to the cargo area, which is wide, easily accessible from the back seat and has a convenient hatchback style entry.

The interior of Forenza seemingly has one general theme – simplicity. Radio controls and other instrumentation are easy to use and have a straightforward design. The instrument panel numbers have retro-style lettering, and the back panel has an attractive light green tone when illuminated. Another nice feature is the dashboard design. Its textured pattern looks like (and feels like) the surface of lots of golf balls – if they were black.

The Forenza, like many vehicles, has remote keyless entry, and its functionality is fine. But the high-pitched noise heard upon closing is reminiscent of a rodent in pain.

Considering its designation as a compact wagon, the Forenza has a good supply of standard features: air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD (eight speakers), tilt steering wheel with remote stereo controls, 60/40 split folding rear seats, power windows and locks and heated and power mirrors.

The car’s one optional feature is its antilock brake system, which adds $500 to the suggested retail base price of $16,649. Destination and handling boost the price another $545 to $17,694 – a strong argument for consideration among economical buyers.

And finally, while Suzuki may not yet be ready to battle its more well-known competitors on several levels, the manufacturer’s 7-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance can’t be easily dismissed.

Safety features – Driver and front seat passenger side airbags, front seat passenger front airbags; 24-hour roadside assistance.

Fuel Mileage – 20 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway).

Warranty- Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain 7 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 3 years/unlimited miles.

Base price – $17,694.00

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