American Suzuki Motor Corporation, or what most of us call Suzuki, has pulled the plug on selling new cars in the United States. Basically once the supply runs out, you won't be able to buy a new Suzuki but that begs the question: is it smart to buy a used Suzuki?
My instinct borne of almost five years of covering the used car industry is a qualified maybe. I'm leaning towards the answer being no but there are some circumstances where it could make sense to buy a used Suzuki.
Here's a quick primer on Suzuki. It sold the SX4, the lowest-priced all-wheel drive in the United States, as well as the Kizashi, a sporty midsize sedan, the Gran Vitara, a crossover utility vehicle, and the Suzuki Equator, a pickup truck. (Truth be told - I had to look up the Equator. I don't think I've ever seen one on the road. Maybe I've seen one at an auto show.)
I've driven three of the four models. However, I'll let the About.com reviewers speak to the Suzuki Kizashi, Suzuki SX4, Suzuki Equator, and Suzuki Gran Vitara. Interestingly, all of them rated the vehicles either 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5. Auto journalists basically liked Suzukis but consumers basically ignored them. Then again, auto journalists (myself not included) don't like the new Honda Civic but it's been selling pretty well.
So, under what circumstances does it make sense to buy a used Suzuki? If you are good about doing preventive maintenance, then it makes sense for you to buy a used Suzuki. I think parts are going to become harder to find. There weren't many Suzuki dealers to begin with. Your best bet in this scenario is if your local Suzuki dealership was part of a bigger set of dealerships. Mechanics familiar with working with Suzukis would most likely still be on staff.
That's important because some manufacturers require specific, expensive tools in order to work on their vehicles. Some independent shops may not have the tools necessary to work on used Suzukis (nor the desire because it is a low-volume brand).
That last point is important to keep in mind. You may have even more problems finding somebody to work on used Suzukis because the vehicles are inexpensive and repairs on them may not be profitable enough.
Of course, Suzuki disagrees with me. In its announcement about pulling out of the U.S. market, the company said, "Consistent with [Suzuki's] long history of standing by its products, owners of Suzuki automobiles will be protected. All warranties will continue to be fully honored and automobile parts and service will be provided to consumers without interruption through ASMC's parts and service dealer network."
Are there other situations when it makes sense to buy a used Suzuki? Price is going to be the determining factor. See if you can get 25% or more off the KBB.com book price.
Does that seem unrealistic? It shouldn't. You're buying a car that is a true orphan. Unlike brands like Pontiac, Saturn, Mercury or Hummer, it has no manufacturing siblings to back it up. Suzuki was a standalone manufacturer in the United States.
When else does it make sense to buy a used Suzuki? If you can't afford anything else but want basically good transportation, then consider buying a used Suzuki. Sometimes you just need a decent used car to get around in. The 2008 and 2009 SX-4 models, for example, are rated very good and good respectively by Consumer Reports. The 2006 Gran Vitara also has above-average reliability but Consumer Reports really didn't like its ride and fuel economy.
So, what's the bottom line? Does it make sense to buy a used Suzuki? Just depends on your circumstances. If you need good, reliable, four-wheel drive transportation, you're good about preventive maintenance, and you can get a good price, then the answer would be yes. A used Suzuki makes a lot of sense under those limited set of circumstances.
One caveat, and it's an important one, be leery of buying a new Suzuki. I know this is a used car site, but dealers might be using high-pressure sales tactics to clear their lots. They will no longer be offering the crème de la crème of the available Suzukis.