Since 2000, when the current Grand Vitara-based XL-7 debuted, Suzuki sold one of the most affordable seven-passenger SUVs on the market, one that could really go off-roading if necessary. But squeezing so many seats into such a small and narrow vehicle with traditional ladder-frame construction meant significant packaging compromises, and while the XL-7 drew a small fan base to its biggest sport-ute, the vast majority of consumers ignored the uncomfortable, underpowered, and unloved model.
That looks to be changing for 2007. The new XL7, now hyphen-free and available with front- or four-wheel-drive, is bigger inside, more powerful thanks to a 250-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, and available with more of the features today’s SUV buyer wants. It’s also a crossover SUV, but one that Suzuki insists will retain a modicum of off-roading capability, albeit without a low range gear on 4WD models.
Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent, the 2007 Suzuki XL7 is longer than the current Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner, offered in five- or seven-passenger configuration, and offers big gains made in terms of interior shoulder room and second-row leg room over the old XL-7. But, in a strange twist, third-row leg room is actually down, and there wasn’t much in the original model to begin with. Nevertheless, Suzuki says the new XL7 is geared to compete against such vehicles as the Ford Freestyle, Nissan Murano, and Subaru B9 Tribeca.