- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

As the price of gasoline continues to spiral out of control, the decisions confronting car buyers are becoming even more confusing. Today, more than ever, these buyers are looking toward better fuel economy as a major factor in their decisions.

In their quest to fulfill the needs of these buyers, Suzuki has produced a compact, more economical vehicle that offers quite a list of features. And while this vehicle is in the compact category, it feels roomy and comfortable.

The Reno is another offering from the Suzuki family of vehicles built from the same platform of the larger Forenza. But, while it shares the underpinnings of the Forenza, its character is distinct with an Italian hatchback design.

The five-door design has had its ups and downs in the North American market. Yet it continues to have a following that seemingly never falters. The Reno is aimed to be sporty while being practical.

The Reno also shares the powertrain used in the Forenza. The four-cylinder, double-overhead-cam 2.0-liter engine produces 126 horsepower, giving the car reasonable performance as it is built on a light and compact platform with a 102-inch wheelbase.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the S and LX models, with a five-speed automatic optional on S and LX and standard on the EX.

Considering the Reno is an economical vehicle, the car has reasonably low road and wind noise. The passenger compartment is moderately quiet at highway speeds.

Many of the vehicles available in the compact category are equipped with power door locks, outside mirrors and windows. Suzuki ups the ante just a little by adding an air-filter system for the passenger compartment and an eight-speaker sound system with MP3 capability.

Not all compact cars are comfortable for a wide range of occupants’ stature, but Suzuki helps broaden the range in the Reno’s case.

It has offered a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a lumbar adjustment of both front seats, helping to make occupants comfortable.

A big advantage for the Reno is the fact that all 2005 model year Suzukis come with standard front and side air bags and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

Another aspect that has had a tremendous influence for buyers is the Suzuki powertrain warranty. At seven years or 100,000 miles, it may not be the longest, but it is better than most. And it’s transferable, which most of those others are not.

The Reno is available in S, LX and EX trim levels. When you select the up-level EX trim, you get leather seating surfaces and door inserts.

As I evaluate each vehicle I must keep a clear understanding of where each vehicle is slotted in the market place. The Reno isn’t going to attract a buyer who is interested in a luxury vehicle, so supple leather and all the exotic bells and whistles are not important.

What is important is that the vehicle get me to work and back home safely and securely. It must also invoke a little adventure in the drive, even when it is the daily commute. In this area the Reno does quite well.

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