Auto Review – Suzuki XL7
There seems to be a love affair developing with Jamaican auto dealers and Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV), perhaps it’s the fact that they are so closely priced to the respective flagship sedans of the various auto makers. This trend is also very similar in India, as vehicles like the XL7 populate the streets.
Due to our road conditions, most buyers seem to be going for SUV-type vehicles, where the ground clearance is higher than a sedan. Throughout most automotive manufacturers, SUVs are the number one sellers and most of them seem to be cannibalising their sedan model with a MPV vehicle. This is also due to the closeness in price range, for example, the Toyota Rush, a MPV that costs less than the Corolla.
Suzuki tries to avoid this issue by creating a distinction between the price index of XL7 and its resident sedan the Ciaz. With the XL7 GLX priced at 5.4 million and the Ciaz GLX going for 4.4 million, as listed on their website.
At first glance, the XL7 kinda looks like a stretched Vitara, as it has a longer wheelbase and greater height. This is most obvious in the second-row doors, as they are visibly larger than that of the Vitara, because they are used to access the third row. They open up widely, which allows for easy access even for larger persons. Once on the inside, the second-row seats can be reclined to a more than acceptable gradient, which creates a comfortable position to sleep and relax on a long journey. This can be done without being intrusive for the persons behind, in the third row.
In the ceiling there is a row that has four a/c vents, that stretches over seventy-five per cent of the width of the vehicle. In addition, there is a knob to control the wind speed to ensure that the occupants are cool. I always found this placement to be ideal, as opposed to the back of the centre console, because it helps to circulate the air better.
In the third row, there are two seats that are most suitable for children and teenagers. That’s not to say that adults can’t fit there, it’s just that I wouldn’t put two adults there for long journeys. Also, the XL7 is equipped with a third-row accessory socket and 1000 ml bottle holder. This is something parents of large families will appreciate, as kids usually fight for charging ports for their phones and spaces to store their water bottles.
What is impressive is the trunk space of the seven-seater. Suzuki places the spare tyre under the vehicle, like what many pickups do, which gives it 14 cubic feet behind the third row. This ensures it has enough room to hold two medium-sized suitcases, as the floor bed can be removed to create more space.
Something like this is well appreciated, as I have tested other MPVs where there is no room for luggage in the trunk. In addition, if the third row of the XL7 is folded down, there is 49.4 cubic feet of space.
These vehicles are built on practicality, so the highlight features are normally things that are useful to the driver. For example, the cup holders in the centre console have a cooling ventilation system, which is something I greatly appreciate. Think of a hot sunny day, you bought a beverage to drink and you don’t want the ice to melt out. Well, this feature will ensure this doesn’t happen.
I was eager to test-drive this vehicle again because it seems like I have been reviewing a lot of MPV lately. These include the KIA Carens, Honda BRV and the Toyota Rush, which, to be fair, I did several years ago, but the memory of it is still fresh. These vehicles are all built similarly, they usually come with a 1.5-litre engine and place a heavy emphasis on having good fuel economy.
The XL7 does a good job of this, as it was able to maintain a consumption ratio of about 9 litres/ km in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
A lot of the components of the chassis are built from high-tensile steel, which is both strong and lightweight. This also means that it can feel a little light when it is not occupied by passengers, especially when going over potholes.
Nonetheless, the ride is very pliable, as it does what it is supposed to in a fuel-efficient manner. The only thing I would add to a vehicle like this is larger tyres to give it a more robust look.
Price of tested model: $5,490,000 mil
Engine: 1.5 litre
Torque: 138 nm@ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: four-speed automatic transmission, FWD
Fuel tank: 45 litre
Body Type: Multi-Purpose Vehicle
Competition: Kia Carens, Honda BR-V, Mitsubishi XPANDER cross
Available at: Stewart’s Auto Sales Ltd, 49-53 South Camp Road. Tel (876) 968-0930, (876) 968-0931, www.suzukijamaica.com