Junkyard Find: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi SE AWD

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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]

For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Brn Brn on Apr 20, 2022

    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.

  • Gary Gary on Oct 06, 2023

    I own a '11 Suzuki Kizashi! It's been in my family since new. It now has 95,000 miles on it. It it the SLS AWD CVT model in pearl black and has black cloth seats. The CVT was the downfall to these cars as they would burn up @ only around 100k miles if not taken care of properly with the recommended transmission services.

    It has been a fantastic car for our family. Since new we've only had to replace the front break pads, a blower motor and regular basic maintenance parts.

    Overall it has been a great car!

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  • Freddie Another reason not to buy a Tesla.
  • Bd2 Tesla is the most important company in the world, responsible for mass enlightenment and empowerment of the educated affluent masses. This lawsuit will only impede the progress of the human race.
  • Aja8888 Good! Hope the owners' win the case, but it will probably be a long time before Tesla releases repair particulars to 3rd party shops. There is a Tesla service center near me I see every day that is absolutely loaded with service-waiting vehicles (parked for weeks) and I'm sure those owners are not thrilled.
  • SCE to AUX I've seen several Fisker Oceans, but not a single 400 Z.
  • Luke42 With Elon Musk just randomly firing the Supercharger team, Tesla has demonstrated that it isn’t a reliable business partner over the long-term.Being able to get 3rd-party repairs just got a lot more important.I’ve also been upping my Tesla-DIY game.That said, I just put 5000 miles on my Model Y in a month (family-obligations) using the Supercharger Network, and my EV is an incredibly capable vehicle when viewed through an engineering lens. As a car guy, driving my EV through the Appalachian mountains where I learned to drive was truly an experience of holding a tiger by the tail and guiding it where I want to go. But, when looking at my Tesla with Elon in charge of sales & service, I do have some serious concerns about the long-term stability of Tesla as a business.My current plan is to trade my Model Y and my GMC Sierra in on a Silverado EV or GMC Sierra EV once the price/availability/finance picture looks favorable. Elon’s unhinged behavior and the Toyota/Honda’s refusal to innovate are making GM look like a good long-term bet to me.I’ll put up with all of this in order to continue driving an EV, though. Even the best gasoline and diesel vehicles are slow buzzy buckets of bolts that smell bad, compared to my EV — so I’m not going back to a 20th century vehicle voluntarily.