Junkyard Find: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi SE AWD
Even though everything in the General Motors universe looked pretty shaky in 2009 and GM-affiliated Suzuki gave up on its attempts to sell Suzuki-badged cars in America in 2013, somehow an interesting new Suzuki midsize sedan managed to appear on our shores for the 2010 model year: The Kizashi. Just under 23,000 Kizashis were sold in the United States and Canada during the car’s 2010-2013 sales run, and I’ve found this clean ’11 in a yard just south of Denver, Colorado.
The Kizashi offered car buyers a lot for their money, with the price tag on this SE AWD version starting at $23,399 (about $30,548 in 2022 dollars).
Unfortunately for Kizashi sales, North American car buyers never really got used to four-wheeled Suzukis that didn’t have Geo or Chevrolet badges (except for this kind of four-wheeled Suzuki). During the 2000s, Suzuki car offerings included a rebadged and Giugiaro-styled Daewoo Leganza, a rebadged Daewoo Nubira, the Reasonably Priced Aerio, and the equally Reasonably Priced Suzuki-badged Daewoo Lacetti, plus the long-forgotten Esteem and a few SUV-ish vehicles you’ll find today rolling with long-expired temporary tags and at least one space-saver spare apiece. Suzuki name recognition on our shores beat Daihatsu but didn’t quite reach Isuzu levels.
That said, the Kizashi would have seemed like a screaming deal with Nissan or even Mitsubishi badges. The interior materials were nice, the AWD system was affordable, and you got all sorts of standard features that the competition sold as options (including keyless ignition, Bluetooth, a seven-speaker sound system, and so on).
Having rented a lot of cars of this era, I can tell you that anything beyond just a single-disc CD player and four speakers was unusual in low-trim-level midsize cars at the time. I used to travel to 24 Hours of Lemons races with a few audio CDs, just so I wouldn’t have to listen to middle-of-nowhere radio stations.
This 2.4-liter straight-four engine made 180 horsepower (you got five more with the manual transmission), 11 more than the base engine in the Camry that year.
This car has the CVT; I’ve never driven a Kizashi, but I assume the CVT made it Not Much Fun™.
This one goes to its grave with a clean interior and a straight body. We can assume that some expensive powertrain component failed. My money is on the CVT and/or the head gasket.
The original owner documentation was still in the glovebox. Perhaps this car had but one owner during its career.
Parts must be hard to find for Kizashis these days, though I was able to locate one as a side-marker-light donor for my Junkyard Jack-O-Lantern a while back.
[Images by the author]
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I was driving across Connecticut when the word came across that radio that Suzuki was closing shop. The announcer stated that Suzuki would honor remaining warrenty work, but forgot which network would provide the support. I knew a girl who was in the same position with a Daewoo when they closed shop. Because the car came from a multi brand dealer, he would call when warranty money became available during the bankruptcy. After a while, he stopped calling.
Wildly overrated car by the automotive press. It was effectively a Ford Contour with a CVT. By 2011, the US market showed it didn't want that kind of vehicle.