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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Apr 28, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


On Sundays, I look forward to my routine of reading the morning paper, sailing with Segina, or some other fun Southland activity. Upon going outside to retrieve the paper, I happen to gaze towards the snow-covered mountains flanking the San Bernardinos. So while it's about seventy degrees, I know I have to go skiing. After reading through Zoloft, necessitating articles about Iraq, the national debt, the trade imbalance, and the stagnant housing market, I decide it's time to head up the hill. I call my LA Car colleague Olov (who happens to have an amazing cabin a few hundred yards from Snow Summit) to see if he's up for an adventure. Both he and his son, back from Iraq, are interested.

The trip to Big Bear is the perfect test driving opportunity. Fortunately, the Executive Editor says LA Car is testing a vehicle large enough to transport three people and a weekend full of ski gear, has decent gas mileage, and will be fun to drive on the famous switchbacks in the Rim of the World highway. Upon arriving at LA Car headquarters, I'm quite happy to see a 2007 Suzuki XL7 Limited with the Platinum Touring Package. The all-new 2007 XL7 is not your father's Suzuki. It' a mid sized SUV that looks strikingly like the much more expensive and equally all-new 2007 Acura MDX. Like the MDX, the XL7 is unquestionably one of the best looking SUV/crossovers available. It has great lines and is both athletic-looking and stylish. Our next step is to load the gear. I wonder if its necessary to bring extras, such as my bags of survival gear, etc. Upon entering the XL7, its clear that this vehicle has more than enough room. No need to wonder anymore. We just fold down the entire third row seat and one seat on the second row. The skis fit well, as do all of the other luggage and gear. Next, we jump in. Like its exterior, the interior of XL7 is visually pleasing and well-appointed. This package has just about all of the features one can want. I know right then we are going to have an enjoyable ride - and we do. The leather seats are supple and the seating is roomy. The front seats have numerous adjustments (the driver seat has six-way power adjustments) and are heated (perfect for a ski trip). The information and switches are intelligently placed. The AM/FM/CD/MP3 Premium Audio System with seven speakers and XM satellite radio is more than entertaining. Bottom line: The XL7 is very comfortable and a pleasure to drive and ride in.

The XL7 performs well on the highway. It's both comfortable and provides plenty of power to merge and pass. Of course, the real test is heading up and down the hill. The XL7 is not exactly fun to drive on the switchbacks, but it handles well. I prefer a tighter turning car (Editor's note: BT's daily driver is a Corvette). There are some corners I fell a bit uneasy about, but that is no fault of the XL7. It's no Porsche Cayenne, but it has no pretenses of being such. Our test vehicle came equipped with ESP, traction control, a self-leveling rear suspension and a tire pressure monitoring system. It also had side-curtain airbags on all three rows. The later is certainly a good safety feature. I'm not sure it'll help if the car slips down a mountain, so it's a good thing that this vehicle performs well. The XL7 certainly has more than enough technology to keep one safe around town, on the highway or in the mountains. This all-new XL7 is was front wheel drive. Going up to Big Bear I would have preferred the AWD version (and hope to have the opportunity to do so at some point.) I'm sure the AWD would have handled better and would provide more confidence in the snow, but in truth, it was not necessary. There was no snow on the roads, and my bag of survival gear contained two sets of chains. In addition to the competent handling, the XL7 had plenty of power to climb the steep mountains. My overall impression of the XL7 is very favorable. I have the opportunity to drive many test vehicles and it is a rare one that I would consider purchasing for myself. The XL7 is one vehicle that I would consider buying for my own personal use. It is stylish, comfortable, performs well, is large enough for friends, toys, and Costco, and is very reasonably priced. In fact, last I checked, there were some fairly good purchase incentives. I wish I could take the XL7 skiing this weekend. Perhaps I should see about getting my own.

SIDEBAR COMMENT About the only thing this new XL7 has in common with the old XL7 is the name and available seven-passenger configuration. In place of the rather anemic-looking old XL7 is a new one with a physique that's positively cut-looking. It also has more space and with more grunt to back up its bold new look. The new 3.6-liter, V6, DOHC engine cranks out 252 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, and is matched to a standard five-speed automatic transmission fitted with Porsche Tiptronic-style manumatic controls. There are three trim levels offered, and each is offered in either front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. The price of admission is $22,899. The new XL7 has a long-arm list of standard features, including four airbags, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control system (TCS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP), remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, power windows, door locks and mirrors, four 12-volt accessory outlets, cruise control, alloy wheels, satin silver trim, AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers, air conditioning with automatic climate control and rear air conditioning with separate HVAC controls on seven-passenger models. And, of course, there's the industry-leading 100,000 mile/7 year limited warranty. In short, it's a whole lot of moxie for the money. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT First, it was the handsome new Grand Vitara. Then came the new SX4 with class-leading features. With the new XL7, Suzuki hits the mark for the third time in a row - and, yes, it's the charm.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Suzuki XL7 Limited Price: $22,899 (base model); $27,949 as tested (Limited model) Engine type: 3.6 liter dual overhead cam V6 with electronic fuel injection EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/24 Horsepower: 252 @ 6,400 rpm Torque: 243 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive optional) Transmission type: Five-speed automatic transmission with sequential manu-matic mode Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut front, and multi-link, self-leveling rear suspension Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy wheels P235/60R-17 all-season tires Brakes: Front: Power-assisted vented disc (11.6 in./296 mm) with floating two-piston calipers and pad wear sensors Rear: Power-assisted disc (11.6 in./296mm) with single piston calipers Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Traction Control System(TCS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with EBD Overall length: 197.2 inches Overall width: 72.2 inches Overall height: 68.9 inches Curb weight (pounds): 4094

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