- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

Suzuki added its affordable Forenza Wagon to its already popular sedan offering two years ago, redefining the value equation in the Premium compact wagon segment. The Forenza lineup features euro-styling by the famed Italian Pininfarina studio, designers of the Ferrari F355 and Maranello. The compact wagon provides a wealth of European wagon DNA. The ride and handling characteristics also reflect a European influence.

Initially, there were three trim levels available for both the Forenza sedan and wagon: the base model S; a mid-level LX; and the top-of-the-line EX.

A new packaging philosophy is now the key, with a singular trim level that allows customers to add options to satisfy their individual needs and requirements — features such as: ABS with the EBD option; the Convenience Package; or the Popular Package.

The base trim level comes with: either a five-speed manual gearbox or the optional four-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel disc brakes; speed-sensitive power rack and pinion steering; heated power side mirrors; air conditioning; AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with eight speakers; front and side impact airbags; and power windows and door locks.

The Forenza Wagon also provides silver painted roof rails. The Convenience Package consists of remote keyless entry and cruise control, while the Popular Package adds remote keyless entry, cruise control as well as a power tilt-and-slide sunroof.

Forenza models draw their motive power from a sophisticated 2.0 liter DOHC, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder engine that delivers 127 horsepower and 131 pounds-feet of torque to the front wheels.

The test Forenza wagon was finished outside in Cobalt Blue metallic and inside in complementary gray toned cloth, and with aluma-look trim accents on the dash, console and doors. The base price was set at $15,699 with the final sticker showing a total of $16,049 after adding the optional Convenience Package and Destination and Handling charge — everything else was included as standard fare. Adding to the overall value is an extensive, transferable powertrain limited warranty with 24/7/365 roadside assistance.

The Suzuki Forenza wagon presents itself as an attractive, sporty four-door compact wagon, that is both comfortable and accommodating. Its value-laden content is without a doubt one of its strongest points. Power is adequate, though a little on the buzzy side when prodded with gusto. The ride quality falls somewhere in the mid-range — not too hard, not too soft. Handling characteristics are positive with a surprising agility, and bordering on a level of fun to toss about.

Bottom-line, the Forenza wagon is a great entry level four-door wagon with some serious and unexpected, luxurious appointments. The 60/40 split second row seat backs fold flat.

Total interior space amounts to 121.6 cubic feet. The Forenza wagon provides a more sophisticated step up from Suzuki’s Aerio SX. The wagon is more family oriented, while the Aireo SX is geared more to the potential tuner, or street racer type.

The Forenza wagon gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway when equipped with the automatic transmission.

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