I know many of you seek out Meh Car Mondays (on whatever days) for reasons of comfort and security. The categorization of a particular car as “meh” can be the only bit of certainty in the lives of a shocking number of people, and I’m always privileged to provide this service, to be that emotional rock. Unfortunately, I can not do that for you today, because I find myself trapped in a conundrum: Is the Suzuki Kizashi a meh car?
I’ve been struggling with the Kizashi’s status for quite a while, which is why I’ve decided to share my struggle with you, like a person going through Some Shit that you get trapped next to at a party.
My problem with the Kizashi is it’s a study in contrasts, like the conclusion of every middle schooler’s report on any country. It’s a car in a pretty meh category, a mid-sized, mid-priced, four-door family car. But it’s still possible to be a standout within those bounds.
Styling-wise, the Kizashi is not a bad-looking car, but it’s hardly a standout. Really, if we’re honest, it’s whatever the opposite of a standout is, as it would blend as well into any parking lot of similar-era (2009-2016) mid-size sedans like a Peppered Moth on birch bark:
Is it better looking than some? Sure. I think the rear view is pretty decent? And were those exhaust tips real?
Even so, it’s still pretty generic-looking, and every time I’ve seen one in the wild (a rare occurrence, which I’ll get back to) I’ve only realized it when I was right up close to it. Approaching one from a distance is always disorienting. Your brain fires through all of the other cars that it almost could be until finally dredging up the dusty Suzuki brain-file with the post-it that reminds you these exist.
This is a car that if you stop to look at one in a parking lot, everyone around you will ask you what the hell you’re doing. Is there a baby trapped in there, they’ll ask, completely oblivious to the fact that you never see these.
Design wise, the Kizashi isn’t really doing anything different than anyone else. It doesn’t really offer any unexpected design functionalities or quirks or capabilities.
It does have some technical qualities that make it a bit of a standout, though, like an available all-wheel drive setup that Suzuki paid Super Bowl ad money to tell us about in 2012:
The power from the 2.4-liter inline four was pretty good, at 185 horsepower, and you could get them with a six-speed manual, which would make it a potentially fun little sleeper.
Reviews at the time were pretty good as well, praising the car’s handling, and, hell, even noted rapper 50 Cent had a Kizashi Sport, which must mean something, right?
This is what’s giving me such fits about the Kizashi — it seems meh in many areas, but at the same time it seems like it was actually a very good, engaging execution of a meh car — does that inherently elevate it from meh status?
Remember, a meh car isn’t a bad car just as much as it isn’t a good car. A real shitbox embarrassment of a car isn’t meh, because you can’t forget about what a dog it was.
An unusually good car is the same way; was the Kizashi too good to be meh? If so, why is it so universally forgotten?
Maybe that’s because of the other big reason that’s making me consider it un-meh: the rarity. These things were a huge flop, sales-wise, and were a lot of the reason Suzuki got out of passenger cars in the U.S. market.
Hell, even Suzuki’s own marketing materials praised the car as being “the auto industry’s best-kept secret,” which is probably the worst possible praise any automaker could get beyond “the paint seems non-toxic.”
I’m always a little surprised on those very, very, very occasional occasions that I encounter a Kizashi—it actually happens sometimes, and the fact that I note these times as important in my brain should be a mark against it being so meh?
But, then again, almost every time I do encounter one, I always marvel how long it took me to spot it because, again, it’s a really generic-looking machine?
So is it meh? If you had a Kizashi with just FWD and the CVT transmission in white, is it really any less meh than an Altima or Camry? Aside from the rarity of the badging?
Is a manual Kizashi Sport so different? Maybe? I mean, I’ve absolutely heard enough good things to make me have all these questions.
Is rarity alone enough criteria for freedom from meh? Rarity does not necessarily equal value, and I’m not sure it’s a get-out-of-meh-free card, either.
It’s like a ghost, the Kizashi. It’s barely present in normal life even to dedicated, painfully awkward gearheads, and when it’s around, it’s like some ethereal specter, some kind of vague idea of a decent mid-sized sedan that never quite got realized.
So, I’m stuck. And that’s why I’m reaching out here, to try and talk this out, get a consensus. Are the Kizashi’s rarity and good driving qualities enough to spare it, or are we just looking at a meh car that’s possibly one of the best meh mid-size sedans?
Can something be both “best” and “meh?” Can something be not-meh and yet I still have zero interest in owning one?
My brain hurts. Help.