by Dennis Hartman
Image from Flickr.com, courtesy of Kyle May
The XL7 was a mid-size SUV available from the Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corporation between 1998 and 2009. The vehicle was sold alongside the compact Vitara. The XL7 was redesigned for the 2007 model year, as Suzuki’s first crossover utility vehicle. While the XL7 competed with other SUVs by offering a low-cost entry-level option, it has become known for several reoccurring problems that potential owners and buyers should be aware of.
One of the most common problems with the Suzuki XL7 has to do with the braking system of the vehicle. While a recall addressed certain specific brake issues, other issues have affected models from different years that were not part of the recall. In some cases, drivers report weak brakes that require a long distance to come to a complete stop, resulting in a potentially dangerous scenario. In many other cases, owners complain about brake pads wearing prematurely, especially on the XL7’s front disc brakes.
The engine timing chain presents another common XL7 problem. The chain itself can loosen and make a loud noise; making it susceptible to breakage. In other cases, timing chain tensioners have been known to fail, leading to a very loose chain with a high probability of breaking or completely dislodging. Part of the problem with the XL7’s timing chain is Suzuki’s statement that timing chain noise is normal in a new vehicle, as part of the break-in period. However, Suzuki has not specified at what point timing chain noise should be considered a sign of mechanical failure.
The Suzuki XL7 has been the subject of several recalls. In 2005, more than 1,600 models were recalled due to a problem with the brake system. Defective brake discs were found to be susceptible to breaking when used to make an emergency stop downhill. New disks were installed for XL7 owners with this problem. Another recall, held in 2003, involved nearly 200,000 vehicles. The recall addressed the weak cables used in the cruise control system, which could prevent the driver from operating the cruise control properly.
Other Suzuki XL7 recalls have directly addressed safety concerns. In 2007, more than 900 XL7 models were recalled due to the use of incorrect materials in the windshield installation. The windshield was especially prone to rolling out of its frame during a crash, which could cause injury. New glass was installed in cases where dealer inspections revealed problems. Although only the windshield was the source of the recall, new glass was also installed on the side windows and the liftgate in some cases.
Another group of problems with the XL7 involves general faults or defects. Many owners have complained of excessive road noise, especially when driving at high speeds. The quality of the XL7’s interior materials, along with its fit and finish, have also come under fire from critics. In terms of overall reliability, the XL7 received a mediocre “5” (out of 10) rating from US News & World Report and was cited as especially inferior to other SUVs in its market segment (although the XL7 is actually priced below of many of its direct competitors).