Pros: Nice factory sounds, cost, excellent airbag and brake system.
Cons: Uncomfortable cabin, noisy, on road performance, and poor customer service.
The title may be corny, but after driving the 2006 Suzuki Forenza Base for approximately two to three weeks sharing my personal experience on this car is relatively easy. The 2006 Forenza is a four door, passenger car that seats four comfortably with two adults in the front and two children in the rear seats. Suzuki's television commercial with the woman stripping down to her sports bra and shorts in the elevator to get into the Forenza is right on target, if you are trying to squeeze five adults into this car. The interior is solid, with front bucket styled seats and numerous storage nooks are par for the course in this foreign sedan. The universal look of the dashboard is agreeable, with its chrome-style plastic covered surfaces, a theme that is echoed throughout the vehicle. The easy to use climate control system is adequate however when the air conditioning is turned to high, the blowing noise competes with the radio.
The car's outward appearance is plain yet fluent similar to one of the new Chryslers. The rear in-glass radio antenna adds some much needed zest to what's basically bare and ordinary. The metallic champagne gold colored body looks nice and does a decent job of camouflaging ordinary dirt and dust making for easy brushless carwash cleaning. Additionally the remote gas cap release and power trunk release add to the vehicles overall expediency. Our base model came with fog lights, cloth seats, a standard plastic steering wheel and shift knob. It would have been nice to have a remote keyless entry and floor mats seeing that this is a brand new car, however this keyless entry cost an additional $250.00 dollars and I'm not sure how much the mats cost. We probably should have opted for the fully loaded Forenza.
How does it handle?
Honestly, I was not impressed with this new low-end car. The Forenza's standard four speed Automatic, 2.0-liter, I4, 126-horsepower engine drives smoothly and loudly on the highway, sucking up gas and letting in all the road noise it can. The car achieves approximately 25 miles to the gallon, I'm not sure if it's the high gas prices or perhaps it does not deliver its advertised 30 miles per gallon, but this baby drinks gas like a fish. One could only guess the car probably guzzles a lot of gas because the engine takes a while too settle down when revved.
The sluggish automatic transmission throttles loudly and has somewhat of a jerk to it when accelerating. The cars poor acceleration is noticeable when trying to pass another vehicle on the road; you can easily feel the car pull as it tussles in increasing its speed. Overall, it seems a little slower than other automatics I have driven so expect to wait when shifting into park, drive or reverse. Taken as a whole, on road handling ranges from poor to fair depending on where you drive. The Forenza's rack and pinion steering and handling around corners is dismal. While highway driving is fair, driving in the city of Atlanta, Georgia presents a different set of challenges as the front strut and rear suspension struggles in taking the road bumps and tight corners. The 15-inch radial tires (195/55R) handle appropriately on the road as long as you are driving under 25 miles per hour. After reaching 500 miles the engine service light came on for a half a day and then it went off. While the car never broke down, we were concerned and alarmed that the car would possibly need repairs and in the future would not pass Georgia's tough yearly emissions standards.
The Forenza discs brakes are probably the best feature on this car. You practically stop on a dime without the screeching or peddle pounding. I was impressed with its performance in the rain. I also liked the factory installed 8-speaker surround sound stereo system; the tweeters in each door are sweet. The driving area is compact as if there was a need to cram everything into one awkward area. Although I felt restricted in the cabin area, I did like the black-on-metal look of the dashboard and the clearly marked knobs and buttons. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble with the driving seat. My seat did not go back far enough, and the seatbelt was rough feeling as though it was cutting into my skin. It's saving grace is the front and side door airbag system which in my opinion is pretty good especially with the front seat airbag light illuminating informing you that the other side airbag is off. Trunk and cargo space is average, and there are limits if you plan on traveling out of town as a family.
My overall experience with this car for the past several weeks leaves me unimpressed both inside and out. In the end we were expecting a lot more from a 2006. Notwithstanding the car's inspiring audio system, exceptional braking performance, and inspiring safety airbag system, I did not like the Forenza's on-road handling, gas consumption, slow take off and the dealerships poor customer service (see below). Finally, the engine did not deliver the execution, or cost effectiveness you would expect for a car made in 2006. It's easy to understand why GM (General Motors) sold off most of its stake in Suzuki and I perfectly understand why Leftlane News selected this car as one of the ten wimpiest of the year.
Consumers should be warned, when purchasing a vehicle from Star Suzuki Mall of Georgia, 4135 Buford Drive, Buford, Georgia. Our salesman, and the management sold us the car, right around, the base price of $13,699. Within two weeks of driving off the lot, we were called repeatedly and harassed, and told that we needed to get another phone for our home, for our credit application to be approved. We called our finance company and they told us we did not need another phone. We have two cell phones, and at home we use our voice signal over our IP network and now that we are on the "debt diet" we refuse to purchase any additional phones.
To make a long story short, after numerous unproductive and menacing calls from the Star Suzuki dealership, we called their corporate office, and we were told that this is an independent dealership. In the meantime, Star Suzuki called all of our references on our application as if the car was stolen. In the end we agreed to return the car and they "verbally" agreed to return our car and deposit. When we arrived at Star Suzuki, they refused to return our car or deposit. We called the police, and although they finally returned our old car, they refused to return our title and threatened to place a mechanic's lean on it. The police informed us that our relationship with Star Suzuki is now a civil matter. Needless to say, we've contacted the Better Business Bureau and their corporate office again. The owner of Star Suzuki in Buford, GA has never returned any of our calls.
It's definitely true what they say, "hindsight is always 20/20". I read one 2006 article written by Andre Idzikowski and published in Car and Driver.com where the test drivers were hassled by the Suzuki's staff with the article reading, "Indeed, the company's minions had called a few times to inquire if it was still in our possession." I guess if you'll harass test drivers, average consumers don't stand a chance. I suggest prospective consumers check out the number of complaints a dealerships has received prior to purchasing from this company.