The midsize economy sedan is among the most popular car divisions. Honda (Accord), Hyundai (Sonata), Kia (Optima), Mitsubishi (Gallant), Nissan (Altima), Toyota (Camry) and Volkswagen (Jetta) all have models marketed for a large share of the consumer market. The Suzuki Verona joins the fraternity in 2004 as the Korean manufacturer’s biggest, highest-priced, most well-appointed vehicle.
And while it’s categorized in the economy sedan range, should a $20,000 vehicle with an full complement of standard features belong in that club?
With its Italian design and a list of standard features substantially longer than offered by some its higher-priced competitors, the Verona has been stereotyped.
Of course, first-year vehicles can have issues. Will the Verona and its complementary Forenza, for example, another first-year Suzuki offering, have fair resale value?
Like the car has less-than-smooth automatic shifting, and foot brake must be engaged to shift.
Regardless, my weekly test vehicle was the Verona EX TC, a 2.5 DOHC, 24-valve, 155-horsepower V6 sedan with a four-speed automatic transmission. It’s the first time Suzuki has offered a V-6, and it’s the lowest-priced import so equipped. The engine is traverse mounted, or positioned sideways, which gives the interior more space.
In short, the Verona is Suzuki’s luxury offering. It’s not promoted as such, but it just doesn’t seem fair to designate the new offering as an economy car.
While parked in front of a Toyota Camry after one around-town jaunt, the two cars have a surprisingly similar exterior presence. Both are classically designed, but not flashy. The only exception for the Verona is the oversized “S” cheap-looking insignia on the front grill.
Certainly, there are more quickly accelerating cars on the market. But the Verona is not sluggish nor awkward in any driving condition. And its satisfactory responsiveness is enhanced by its standard features: power window and locks, tilted steering wheel, remote steering wheel controls for the AM/FM stereo and CD, cruise control, keyless entry, individually heated leather front seats, 16-inch alloy wheels and a moon/sunroof.
There are also dual-stage front airbags for the driver and front seat passenger. But neither side nor head curtain airbags are available, an offering standard on some of the competitors.
The Verona’s interior is spacious and the rear seats have an efficient 60-40 split design. The trunk is surprisingly deep considering the vehicle’s mid-size rating.
The console and instrument paneling is stylish. Unlike some manufacturers’ cheap-looking wood paneling look, the Verona’s faux wood trim is handsome and nicely coordinated into the vehicle’s interior scheme.
With a $500 price for it traction control option, the Verona’s total price is $19,999. It’s an amount several thousand dollars less than some if its competitors’ prices, which translates a value likely hard to beat in any vehicle category.
Safety Features — ABS brakes, driver/front passenger airbags, traction control (option).
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 20 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway).
Warranty — 7 years/100,000 miles warranty (basic); 3 years/36,000 miles limited (powertrain); 3 years/36,000 miles (free roadside assistance).
Base Price Range — $16,499, $19,499.