Suzuki introduced a new four-door, front-wheel-drive sport sedan named the Aerio, along with a related Aerio SX hatchback, in March 2002. For 2007, the Suzuki Aerio SX hatchback has been discontinued, option packages have been revised and cruise control now comes standard. The Premium Package with all-wheel drive now features a standard automatic transmission.
All-wheel drive became available for the 2003 model year, and a new 2.3-liter four-cylinder that develops 155 horsepower was installed in 2004.
A mild face-lift for 2005 gave the Aerio a new front bumper, grille and fog lamps. A new analog instrument panel was installed, and audio and climate controls on the steering wheel were included. Side-impact airbags became standard.
More upright than most small cars, Aerio sedans come in a single trim level, but a Premium Package is offered. Design features such as pronounced wheel flares and multireflector headlights enhance the Aerio's sporty image. A stubby, ground-hugging snout incorporates a body-colored bumper.
The sedan rides on a 97.6-inch wheelbase and measures 171.3 inches long overall. Large doors are intended to ease entry and exit. Heated mirrors are included on all-wheel-drive models.
Each Aerio seats up to five occupants on front buckets and a split, folding rear seat. The tall roofline allows a high seating position. The sedan's trunk holds up to 14.6 cubic feet of cargo.
Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, a tachometer, a tilt steering wheel with integrated audio controls, intermittent wipers, a MP3/six-CD changer audio system with seven speakers, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors.
Under the Hood
The Aerio's 2.3-liter four-cylinder generates 155 hp and 152 pounds-feet of torque and teams with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Suzuki's QuadGrip all-wheel drive is available. All-wheel-drive models come only with the automatic.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, daytime running lights and child-safety seat tether anchors are standard.
In construction quality, performance and handling, the Aerio took a big step forward compared with Suzuki's old Esteem. It's more fun to drive than most small cars, and the Aerio easily whips around urban areas. Acceleration is satisfying, and the automatic transmission functions without harshness or undue delay. Engine noise is noticeable during acceleration.
The Aerio is easy to steer and control, and it breezes through corners and moderate curves. A light feel on the highway yields acceptable stability, but the Aerio doesn't feel quite as secure as some other compacts. Its ride quality is impressive even on patched urban pavement, but imperfect surfaces can produce harsh suspension reactions.
Visibility is very good. All seats are comfortable and snugly bolstered. Space in both the front and rear seats is abundant.