The Suzuki Aerio is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable car, even though, in some ways, it’s a throwback. The interior is refreshingly spartan, without such frills as a covered center console or power leather seats, but it’s clean and well executed, with an incredibly high roof providing a sense of spaciousness. The small but well-designed instrument panel includes a tachometer, gas and temperature gauges, speedometer, and odometer – all digital. The climate controls are simple but effective, unpretentious and useful. Performance is good enough to be fun, not good enough to challenge sports cars, but certainly more than enough for most people, even with the automatic.
The small engine is spirited and provides considerably more power than most competitors, with 141 horses (145 on the GS) besting the Civic EX (125), base Dodge Neon (133), and the Toyota Corolla (140). Torque is also there for low-end grunt, hill-climbing, and accelerating while the air is on, with 136 lb-ft coming in at 3,000 rpm.