Midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,400 – $8,900*

2001 Suzuki XL-7

2001 Suzuki XL-7

2001 Suzuki XL-7 interior

2002 Suzuki XL-7

2002 Suzuki XL-7

  • Cargo room
  • Acceleration
  • Noise
  • Steering/handling

Prices might have seemed attractive when the XL-7 was new, but these SUV’s were no bargain given their subpar refinement, labored acceleration, stiff and nervous ride, poor handling, and antiquated 4WD system. Basically, this is a mediocre compact SUV, stretched to become a mediocre midsize SUV, with a cramped third-row seat of questionable usefulness being its sole asset.


Introduced during the 2001 model year, Suzuki’s newest and biggest midsize sport-utility vehicle was basically the compact Grand Vitara wagon, with a 12.6 inch longer wheelbase and 19.1 inches of added length. Capable of seating seven passengers, the XL-7 used a larger version of the Grand Vitara’s V6.

Manual and automatic transmissions were available. The XL-7 came with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Its 4WD system had to be disengaged on dry pavement, but included low-range gearing.

Four models were offered: Standard, Plus, Touring, and Limited. Antilock braking was standard on Touring and Limited models. Roof rails could hold 100 pounds of cargo.

Measuring 183.7 inches overall, the XL-7 was 10 inches longer than a Ford Escape and 6 inches longer than Honda’s CR-V. According to Suzuki, rear doors were 8 inches wider at the base and a foot wider at the top, compared to other SUVs in this class. Second-row seats adjusted fore and aft. With second- and third-row seats down, cargo volume totaled 73 cubic feet. A full-size spare tire was mounted on the back door.

Standard equipment included air conditioning, keyless remote entry, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, and rear wiper/washer. The Plus model added rear air conditioning, 16-inch aluminum wheels, and an in-dash CD player. Touring editions got a sunroof, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. Leather upholstery and running boards were included with the Limited. Competitors included such midsize models as the Ford Explorer, GMC Envoy, and Toyota Highlander.

Yearly Updates

2002 XL-7
More power and revised equipment were the big changes for 2002. The XL-7’s V6 engine gained 13 horsepower. A LATCH rear child-seat anchor system was installed.
For 2002, the Standard model switched to five-passenger seating, losing its third-row seat. Other versions stuck with seven-passenger seating. Standard and Plus 4WD models now came with antilock braking, and all 4WD versions gained heated door mirrors. The XL-7 Limited added a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, woodgrain plastic console trim, and optional heated front seats.
2003 XL-7
Standard and Plus models were dropped for 2003, leaving only Touring and Limited editions. Five-passenger seating was standard, with a third-row seat optional, including rear air conditioning.
2004 XL-7
The 4-speed automatic was upgraded to a 5-speed unit and the model lineup was trimmed to just the LX and EX.
2005 XL-7
Suzuki’s midsize SUV gets a tire-pressure monitor and new model names for 2005. XL-7 is basically a stretched version of Suzuki’s compact Grand Vitara, with a 12.6-inch-longer wheelbase, 22.9 inches of added length, and a larger 2.7-liter V6.
2006 XL-7
There were no changes for the 2006 XL-7.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Suzuki’s 2.7-liter dual-overhead-cam V6 engine produced 170 horsepower in 2001, rising to 183 hp in 2002-03. Initially, either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission could be installed, with rear-drive or four-wheel driver. In 2004, the automatic was upgraded to a 5-speed unit.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.7/167
Engine HP 170-183
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 178-180
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic

With 2WD, the EPA rating was 18/20 mpg.

Road Test

Suzuki’s biggest SUV falls short of its midsize SUV competition in several areas. Test Touring 4x4s accelerated 0-60 mph in 9.7 seconds with a manual transmission, and around 11.5 seconds with automatic. An XL-7 also suffers from labored passing power. Low-range gearing is a bonus off-road, but nearly every rival offers more convenient 4WD that’s usable on dry pavement.

With 4-speed automatic and 4WD, a test XL-7 averaged 18.8 mpg, helped by plenty of highway miles. A 5-speed auto EX averaged just 15.4 mpg. The manual-shift version returned 17.1 mpg in mostly city driving, and 20.8 mpg in combined city/highway motoring.

Despite having one of the longer midsize SUV wheelbases, the XL-7’s ride is mostly stiff and nervous. The suspension copes well with pavement breaks, but sharp bumps register and some bounding and pitching occur over large dips and crests.

Aggressive cornering induces less noseplow than on many front-drive SUVs, but grip is modest, body lean significant, and steering rather numb. Even with ABS, brakes feel mushy and slightly weak in simulated panic stops, which aren’t super-short, either.

Noise can be wearing except in gentle driving, with marked highway wind roar and considerable tire drone on most surfaces. The engine is strained and noisy in the high rpm operation that’s required for best performance.

Instruments and controls are clear, simple and handy, but 4WD engages via a console-mounted lever rather than the dashboard switch used by most rivals. Cabin materials and finish are disappointing, even at the XL-7s modest prices.

Front head room is fine for six-footers, but leg space ranks only as adequate. The narrow cabin limits hip and shoulder room, and feels small. Seat cushions are too short for good leg support. Step-up is a bit high, though class-normal. Visibility is satisfactory, and better with the third-row headrests removed.

Adults have good head room in the second row, but the seat is hard, narrow for three, and offers little leg room if it’s shoved forward to provide knee clearance in the third row. Rear-door thresholds are narrow enough to trip feet. Third-row space is adequate, without pushing second-row seats back. But entry/exit is a squeeze.

Cargo space is narrower than in other midsize SUVs, so wide items will not fit. Volume is class-average, even with both rear seats down. Only grocery-bag space is available behind the 50/50 third-row seat. Folding the 60/40 second-row seat is an ordeal of cryptic diagrams and puzzling levers. Door map pockets are hard to access.


Model Tested: 2001 Suzuki XL-7 4WD w/automatic transmission

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 3

Total: 41


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.2 183.6 70.1 68.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
73.0 16.9 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 39,2 41.4 36.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Lifters drain down (collapse) after cold soak causing ticking noise from 2.0L engine briefly after startup and, if running the engine for 20 minutes at 2,000 rpm does not clear up the problem, lifters must be replaced. (2001-03)

Recall History

2001-04 XL-7
Description: The accelerator cap may be faulty causing the accelerator cable to fray, resulting in the gas pedal possible sticking. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2001-06 XL-7 w/16-inch wheels
Description: Front brake discs may break under severe driving conditions.
2002-03 XL-7
Description: Windshield may not be properly secured to the vehicle body and may separate during a crash, increasing the risk of severe injury or death. Vehicles with this problem will either be repaired, or will be replaced.
2003 XL-7
Description: The ignition fuse might blow if the ignition system wiring harness is in the wrong position, casing the engine to stall. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: The tension adjuster pulley for the drive belt that operates the power steering pump and air conditioner compressor (if equipped) has an outer portion that is made of plastic. Repeated heat stress can cause the plastic material to deteriorate and pieces of the pulley can break off. Broken pieces of the pulley can get caught between the pulley and the drive belt, causing the drive belt to come off and resulting in the driver needing increased effort to steer the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the power steering pump drive belt tension adjuster pulley free of charge.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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