- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

There is no doubt Suzuki is re-establishing itself as more than a sport utility vehicle company.
Suzuki continues to expand that trend by adding all-wheel drive to the popular Aerio compact passenger car. Here is a vehicle that is practical and now brings all-weather capabilities with an affordable price tag.
The Aerio is available in two models, Aerio four-door sedan and the Aerio SX five-door. The SX is a configuration that is fashioned much like a wagon complete with lift gate. Both models are very Asian in appearance, meaning they have short front hoods that slope quickly downward with large triangle light housings. In fact, this angled approach is seen in many character lines finishing up at the taillights.
The Aerio SX is taller than most vehicles in its class. While adding additional headroom, it also allowed the engineers to raise the hip point of the seats. Raising the hip point by fractions can ease the entry and exit of the vehicle. The raised roof line makes getting in and out of the Aerio much easier by allowing larger door openings.
In many cases a body that is tall tends to detract from the handling aspects of a vehicle, but not here. Suzuki has taken the Aerio quite seriously and given the vehicle more than adequate capabilities. In stock form, both models handled all the twisting country roads I could throw their way. Compact cars of all sorts are quite popular with the "tuners" who enjoy dumping thousands of dollars into their vehicles to make them more personalized.
The Suzuki Aerio may very well be one of those vehicles that become popular with this movement. I feel this is a possibility after spending lots of time behind the wheel of various models, even a few mildly modified Aerio SXs.
It doesn't take Lotto winnings to finance a few basic modifications; Suzuki kept the cost at about $2,000. By adding a K&N; air filter and a free-flowing Suzuki Sport muffler, engineers were able to bump the power up a tad. To give the car exceptionally good handling characteristics, they added stiffer springs and modified shocks, as well as performance Yokohama tires mounted on large 16-inch ally wheels. These changes increased stiffness by about 30 percent and lowered the car by an inch compared with the stock Aerio. Make no mistake, the Aerio isn't a race car, but with just a little massaging it was quite evident that this car had a great deal of agility hiding under its skin.
The big news here though is the Aerio sedan and SX are now available with Suzuki's QuadGrip all-wheel-drive system. While this may seem unimportant to drivers in the Sunbelt, this would be a fallacy. All-wheel-drive systems prove to be a big advantage even in dry climes.
Suzuki takes giant strides at making advanced features available to more of the general car-buying public and one of those is putting all-wheel drive into the hands of folks who might not be able to afford a $25,000-plus vehicle. With a price of just $14,999 including all-wheel drive, the Aerio is within the reach of so many more buyers.
The interior is a compilation of form and function. The dash is an amalgam of arching lines that form stylized triangles, all of which give the interior a contemporary look.
As you investigate your vehicle alternatives, looking closely at the features offered on this or that car, it might be wise to also consider that there are few vehicles available with all-wheel drive at such a reasonable price. And, let's not forget the Suzuki warranty.

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