APA downgrades its ratings for Suzuki models sold in Canada

August 2012

Suzuki dealers in Canada are in trouble. Canadian sales have dropped by more than 50 percent in the last four years, and dealers have been closing their doors, including Ontario`s largest Suzuki store, Morningside Suzuki in Scarborough. The closures have required some consumers to travel long distances for warranty work and service. Suzuki appears to be quietly winding down its Canadian operations by starving its dealers of new product, instead of paying them to close their businesses. Some examples:

  • The current Grand Vitara dates back to 2006. Dropping the available V6 engine was a step backward.
  • The SX4 small car has changed little since its introduction in 2007, while competing subcompacts have all been redesigned during that period. This year, the least expensive all-wheel-drive SX4 is priced $640 higher  than a base model Subaru Impreza, which is a larger and more refined hatchback with all-wheel-drive.
  • Suzuki`s flagship, the Kizashi midsize sedan, is undermined by its poorly adapted CVT transmission. It`s making little headway in Canada, even with a $3300 rebate and zero percent financing.

So far, replacement parts availability has been good, and the reliability of Suzukis built in Japan has been very good. (GM products from Korea rebadged as Suzukis are another story.)

When you buy a new vehicle, you`re looking at an eight to ten year relationship with the manufacturer and its dealer network. At this time, there is no compelling reason to buy a new Suzuki. The model range is looking dated, and the company doesn`t have the will to succeed here. Even with class-leading cars it would take a concerted effort over several years, and massive spending on advertising and marketing, to move Suzuki into the mainstream. The company doesn`t appear to be up to the task.