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Thread: General Offroad abililty

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Sydney Australia

    Question General Offroad abililty

    Hi all,

    I'm a longtime Suzuki owner, but new to the SX4. One of the tradeoffs between the SX4 and the earlier ones I've owned is the ability to take it offroad, and by offroad I would normally be referring to more than just dirt roads although that's probably a fairly reasonable expectation of "offroad" for the SX4.

    So I'm interested to hear some feedback from others about the degree to which you can take your SX4s off the tarmac. What sort of roads do you use them on?

    Some specific questions are...

    In soft sand, how does the SX4 deal with not having a low range gearbox option? Does the engine or gearbox overheat easily or is it quite capable in sand? Also, in soft sand, what tyre pressures are people running? What is it safe to go down to?

    If the car does get bogged in soft sand or mud, how strong are the tow point hooks? On a car like this, the tow hooks are typically more like tiedown points for transporting the vehicle, and don't stand up too well to serious tension from a snatch strap trying to pull the vehicle out from a seriously stuck situation. I don't really want to tear the front end apart trying to get out of a bog... has anyone got any experience with such things?

    Are there any suspension or body components that are especially vulnerable offroad? Does the car have any weak spots that show up under hard off-tarmac driving? Is there anything specific on the car that is more likely to break under really rough conditions?

    Are there any modifications that can help improve the cars offroadability? I've seen the lift kits that raise the car, although I'm not sure I want to do that just yet. Has anyone done one of these more extreme offroad ability mods and how did it affect the cars general onroad performance? I realise that everything is a trade-off, but where is the sweet spot?

    Thanks.. I probably have more questions, but that will do for now.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    New Gloucester, Maine
    i have had absolutely no issues going offroad with my sx4. i use it for rally/rallycross here in the states and have had no issues plowing through what i have needed to get through. though mine is lowered a little, if i did it all over again, i would just lift it rather then lower the thing, would have saved a lot of headaches taking my time bombing off of jumps

  3. #3
    I have extensive off-road experience with my SX4 in pretty much every type of terrain. I come from an off-roading background so I'm pretty well-versed in where it excels and where it's lacking.

    From the dealership, its off-road abilities are most hobbled by the horrible tires and the lack of ground clearance. Thankfully, both of these are easily remedied. Rocky Road Outfitters makes a great lift kit and a nice skidplate, Primitive Racing makes front and rear skidplates, and there are a few really good options in oversize tires that improve traction while further increasing ground clearance.

    With those mods, the next limitation is the lack of low-range gearing. Basically, you're going to need enough ground speed to keep the engine speed up in the power band. You'll be amazed at where your car can actually go, but it'll take some skill if you're pushing its limits. But that can be said of any vehicle on any terrain.

    Factory tow hooks are plenty strong, but they're not very conveniently placed. When I've had to winch my SX4 out of the snow, I've used the rear tow bar I added.

    As far as on-road handling is concerned, the lift kit is not high enough to make any appreciable difference. Your tire choice will make much more of a difference than the lift kit will.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I live in Vegas and have been wondering the same. My plan is to find some 15 inch wheels and get some small truck tires with deeper tread to go offroading with. I was hoping this would give a small lift as well. Also i am only planning on doing some of the local desert trails near the mountains, they dont seem to have too many large hills or a need for a lot of clearance. Also, can you comment on the amount of fuel used. I noticed when driving in auto mode that is tells me i will only get 150 miles to the tank on a full tank. is this true? i dont plan on doing 150 miles in auto mode out on the backroads, but it will take a few gallons to get there and back. thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    For the record, I'm in Vegas, and I've gone off roading all around the area.
    If you want to meet up, I can take you out sometime in my lifted SX4 and show you what the car is good at.
    PM me if you're interested.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I think I would be interested! Ill hit you up.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    I am not very competent for off-road driving, except for the mud. My dad taught me to drive in the mud before asphalt.

    Everyone is praising SX4 as a snow car but I give it two thumbs up for the mud. Even with stock tires, I took it several times through the hub caps deep mud without any problems (apart from washing the car afterwards ). I still haven't got this car stuck and I took it several times to serious mud terrains by the river bank, where big SUV's have their fun. I only had to switch off ESP after a while not to overheat the brakes. It's more fun without it.
    Mine is European 2010 model with 190 mm ground clearance which I would gladly swap with US model with a lift kit, if I could.:wink:
    Last edited by Balansero; December 26th, 2010 at 05:33 AM.
    ʇı ɟo ǝʇnuıɯ ʎɹǝʌǝ ʎoظuǝ ı 'ʎʇıuɐsuı ɯoɹɟ ɹǝɟɟns ʇuop ı

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Central Florida


    You've asked some pretty good questions there.
    My little 2009 SX4, iAWD is for all intents and purposes still Pure Stock.
    I live out in the woods, so to speak, so I'm Off-Roading just getting home.
    Tires: I'm still running the Bridgestone tires that came stock on the car.
    For general driving I run the pressure at 38#, suggested by my Suzuki dealer.
    I drive all over my area, in loose sand at that pressure and even pull a heavy
    drag to 'grade' my road. If I need additional traction in the sand I will drop my
    tire pressure down to about 24# and the traction seems to just about double.
    That's good for heavy pulling but is too low for high speed highway driving.
    If you're going to be playing with the tire pressure for off-roading, then you
    should carry a small 12v air compressor with you so you can restore the tires
    to full pressure when you get back on paved roads.

    Tow hooks? The rear one is what you said, "for tying down the car during shipping".
    I broke mine off pulling 'stuff' around my yard. A good friend welded it back on, adding
    bracing straps on either side. Since then I've added a trailer hitch, for better pulling
    power. The front tow loops are sort of hard to get into, with the hooks that most
    Wrecker Services use. Picture:

    This is the front, right tow loop, which is securely welded to the frame.

    I added these heavy duty Tow Hooks to both sides, just in case I have to be pulled
    or I have to pull someone else (which is more likely).
    My friend and Mud Truck builder gave me these 10,000# rated hooks because they
    were too light for his needs.

    One bolt went right through the stock hole in the tow loop, but I had to drill the second one. I don't know about Australia, but around here, those hooks are readily available.

    My SX4 is the fifth Suzuki I've owned since moving here to Florida and the second one with 4WD. Out of the five, it's by far my favorite and has the best traction in this powdery Florida sand. When I'm 'working' in the sand, I always put the little car in 4 wheel LOCK, with ESP OFF and I run in Second Gear.
    I've seen the engine temp go as high as 220F, under a really hard pull, but as soon as the load is off, the temp comes right back down to the 200 zone.

    Good Luck !

    Five time Suzuki Owner: My last Suzuki= a 2009 SX4, X-Over, iAWD, AT, Tinted and striped

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by LVSX4 View Post
    Also, can you comment on the amount of fuel used. I noticed when driving in auto mode that is tells me i will only get 150 miles to the tank on a full tank. is this true? i dont plan on doing 150 miles in auto mode out on the backroads, but it will take a few gallons to get there and back. thanks!
    Auto mode has no affect on fuel economy whatsoever. Regardless of whether or not the center driveline coupler is sending power to the rear wheels, all of the rear wheel drivetrain is still turning when in 2WD mode, creating the exact same amount of drag and therefore consuming the same amount of fuel.

    With that said, 150 miles on a tank is fine if you are driving aggressively or stop-n-go traffic. If you are just cruising down the highway with light throttle, you can expect 300 miles per tank. And remember, the distance-to-empty display says "0 miles" when you still have 2-3 gallons of fuel remaining in the tank.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    So if I wanted to, I could leave in auto mode all the time
    2009 Suzuki SX4 5MT iAWD Convenience
    Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow. - James Dean
    My SX4 gas mileage chart

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