Monday, April 5, 2010

RANT: Comparing the AWD Suzuki SX4's fuel economy to FWD subcompacts isn't fair

I was recently reading the long-term wrap up of the 2009 Suzuki SX4 AWD on Inside Line. I thought, overall, it was a pretty good review. However, they (like other media outlets and other people in general) griped about the car's fuel economy, which was an average of 23.2 MPG. They mentioned their long-term Honda Fit, which they said was "something of a competitor," averaged 31.4 MPG during its stay in the fleet. So what's my point? Here's a chart to get the point across:

Suzuki SX4 AWDFWD Honda Fit
Engine Size2.0 liter1.5 liter
MPG (city/hwy)

So yes, it makes sense that the FWD car with a 1.5-liter engine and 117 hp would get markedly better mileage than the AWD car with a 500cc-larger engine, 26 more hp, and 240 lbs. more weight (auto Fit Sport with navigation weighs 2,615 lbs.; auto AWD SX4 weighs 2,855 lbs.). If we're talking about the FWD SX4, then fine. Yes, it gets 22/30, which isn't as good as a Fit.

But since we're (and by "we're" I mean "I'm") talking about the AWD variant, the SX4 gets some of the best fuel economy of any AWD vehicle out there that isn't a hybrid. Since Inside Line used the automatic 2009 SX4 AWD, let's look at some other four-cylinder non-hybrid AWD vehicles with automatics from '09 and see what their fuel economies are:

Audi A3 Quattro21/28
Ford Escape 4WD 19/25
Honda CR-V 4WD20/26
Jeep Compass21/24
Subaru Impreza20/26
Toyota RAV421/27
Toyota Matrix AWD20/26
Volvo S40 AWD18/26

Yes, some of these cars are larger than the SX4, and that's fine if you want a bigger car. Do I wish my SX4 got more miles per gallon? Absolutely. However, I wanted a small vehicle with AWD, and fortunately for me, the SX4 is out there. Plus, I'm part of the 8–10 percent of the lunatic fringe looking for a car with a manual transmission. If you're like me (which is too bad for you), then your choices are now limited to the SX4, the Jeep Compass, the Subaru Impreza, and the Volvo S40 in terms of smaller AWD vehicles.

Oh, and by the way, for 2010, the SX4 AWD with its new CVT gets 23/29; the manual gets 22/30.

So there you go.


nlpnt said...

I agree with you, and could add that the reason why the Fit has its' super-spectacular space efficiency is that Honda made a conscious choice NEVER to have an AWD variant on that platform, hence the area where a rear axle wants to be is cargo space.

All the more reason to offer an LSD in the Fit. And both Honda and Suzuki are better in this respect than Toyota is for having made the packaging compromises necessary to put AWD in the Yaris, but offering it only in Japan.

burnitwithfire said...

The SX4 has a user selectable drive so you can drive it as a FWD only. I know there will be some loss in the "angle drive" (or transfer case as some call it even though it's not a 4X4) but you should get decent mileage in FWD only. Maybe they had it stuck in permanent AWD. Sending power to the rear when you don't need it would cost you a lot of fuel.

Yaris AWD in Japan? Now that's something I'd like to import in one or two decades in Canada ;)

Andy Lilienthal said...

With my SX4, I have not been able to notice a difference in MPGs between FWD and AWD.