Last year, a wagon version of the Forenza joined the Suzuki lineup, along with a sporty five-door hatchback called the Reno. While the new Suzuki Reno doesn't offer any performance upgrades over the Forenza, it does have more of a youthful appearance inside and out. The dash, door panels and color choices are a little more hip than the more traditional Forenza wagon and sedan.
For power, the 2006 Suzuki Reno offers a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated for 127 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. The Reno gets around OK when equipped with a manual transmission but feels underpowered with the automatic. Fuel economy is not a strong point of this engine, as it turns in lower numbers than any other car in this price range. Driving dynamics are another sore spot, as the Reno exhibits sloppy handling and a less composed ride than competitors. Additionally, wind noise tends to be excessive when cruising on the highway.
Suzuki has attempted to distinguish its Reno from the competition with a roomy interior and a lengthy list of standard features. Unfortunately, inconsistent materials quality detracts from the otherwise inviting interior. On paper, the stylish Suzuki Reno hatchback looks like a good value. Unfortunately, its acceleration, fuel economy and handling fall well short of the leaders in this segment. Bargain hunters would be wise to put their money on a Kia Spectra5 instead.
The four-door Suzuki Reno hatchback is available in one basic trim level with a couple of major option packages. Standard features include body-color bumpers and door handles, four-wheel disc brakes, a height-adjustable driver seat, a padded center armrest, a tilt steering wheel, air conditioning, cabin air filtration system, an eight-speaker stereo with a CD player and power windows, mirrors and locks. The Convenience Package adds MP3 audio capability, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a sunroof, cruise control and keyless entry. The top-level Premium Package adds alloy wheels, leather seats, foglights, a rear spoiler and antilock brakes.
To liven things up a bit, designers used plenty of metallic accents throughout the cabin and an attractive set of gauges. The door panels and dash arrangement are sportier-looking than the Forenza's with more distinctive circular patterns. The Suzuki Reno has no less than 11 storage compartments and is available with leather seating. The driver seat offers two-way seat-bottom tilt, and most people will be able to find a comfortable driving position. A padded center armrest provides a comfortable place to rest an elbow on long trips. In back, passengers are treated to competitive amounts of leg- and shoulder room, along with a fold-down center armrest. Cargo capacity measures just 8.8 cubic feet with the rear seat in use, but opens up to a very accommodating 45.4 cubes when you fold the seat.
The Reno comes with only one engine -- a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder making 127 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy is below average, rating just 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway with the manual and 22/31 with the automatic.
When equipped with the manual gearbox, the Reno has little difficulty keeping up in traffic. However, when the Suzuki car is saddled with the automatic transmission, acceleration is weak and highway maneuvers take planning. Compared with other budget hatchbacks, the 2006 Suzuki Reno also comes up short in ride quality. It strives for comfort with its soft suspension, but there's too much movement over bumps and ruts. Handling while cornering is sloppy as well, as the suspension allows too much body roll, while cheap tires offer little grip. On the positive side, the Reno's four-wheel disc brakes provide short stopping distances (although pedal feel and stability are unimpressive).
Side airbags and four-wheel disc brakes are standard, and ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution is optional. Front-seat occupants get seatbelt pre-tensioners and height adjusters, while rear-seat passengers get a full set of head restraints and three-point belts. NHTSA has conducted no crash tests on the Suzuki Reno. The IIHS rates the Suzuki car "Acceptable" (second highest) for frontal-offset crash protection.
Changes this year for the Suzuki Reno include trim level revisions, new wheel designs, a standard tilt steering wheel and new seat fabrics.