Should You Take the Suzuki SX4 Off Road?

Don’t let the “X4” fool you. All-wheel drive or not, the Suzuki X4 is not a vehicle to be taken off road.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Suzuki SX4
is considered by many to be a quality and underrated all-wheel vehicle for city life, but it’s definitely not meant for off-road adventures. 
If you haven’t thought about Suzukis in a while, there’s a good reason for that —
stopped selling cars in the U.S. market around 2012. While some Suzuki models are definitely suited to off-road action, the subcompact crossover SX4 isn’t one of them. 
Take a look at the specs of the Suzuki SX4 with
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comparison shopping. We’ll take a look at the specs of the SX4 and what it can (and can’t) do, and what might be some good options if you’re looking for a smaller vehicle with off-road capabilities. 
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Can the Suzuki SX4 go off-road?

It really shouldn’t. Even though the SX4 had the option for all-wheel drive, that in and of itself does not make it an off-road vehicle. Its all-wheel capability means that it’s a great option for urban dwellers who might need extra traction in bad weather, but the SX4 needs to stay on the pavement. 
A new 2012 SX4 started at around $18,000. It was available as a hatchback or a sedan, and buyers had the option of upgrading to all-wheel drive on some trim levels. Today, a used 2012 model will cost around $5,000. It was also available with a manual transmission.

Ground clearance

Ground clearance is one of the most important numbers to be aware of when it comes to off-roading. This figure is the distance between the lowest part of your vehicle’s chassis and the ground, and it is quite literally a “make or break” factor.
Generally, you want between 8.8 and 10.8 inches of ground clearance for off-roading. The higher you are, the better chance you have of traveling over a variety of terrains without damaging your vehicle's undercarriage. 
The SX4 has a ground clearance of 6.3 inches, which is nowhere near enough for driving off-road. It just isn’t tall enough to ride.


A capable off-road vehicle will have a healthy amount of low-end torque. An engine’s turning power matters much more than speed when you’re off road, and low-end torque is vital to being able to generate enough power to deal with road obstacles.
The Suzuki SX4 will produce 140 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. This is good enough for your typical subcompact crossover, but nowhere near the turning power necessary for off-roading. 


The size of tires that an SX4 needs will vary depending on the trim level and year. It was likely equipped with a set of all-season tires when new, which would suit a city driver’s needs but aren’t a good choice for off-roading. Upgrading to a set of
all-terrain tires
(or winter tires in the colder months) will give your SX4 better traction in poor driving conditions, but won’t make it able to go off-road. 


All-wheel drive is a must-have for successful off-roading, and it was an option on the SX4. But as we’ve mentioned, this doesn’t mean that it can go off road, it just means that you’ll have increased traction and control when the roads are slippery due to rain, snow, or ice. 
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Another set of numbers to keep your eye on when off-roading is your angles: Specifically, a vehicle’s approach and departure angles. Here’s what those mean:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The SX4 has approach and departure angles of 16.6 and 29.5 degrees, respectively. This is enough to handle the ups and downs of city driving, but not enough to do any serious rock crawling. 

Off-road rating: Don’t try it

We’ve rated the Suzuki SX4 using
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below: 
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
 When it comes to off-roading, the Suzuki SX4 gets a D for Don’t try it. It’s not that it’s a bad little car. In fact, several automotive sources consider the AWD SX4 to be an underrated and highly cost-effective vehicle for city driving, especially if you live somewhere where winters are on the cold and wet side. 

The best off-road alternatives to the Suzuki SX4 

If you’re looking for a smaller vehicle with some decent capabilities off the beaten path, the Suzuki SX4 doesn’t quite measure up. But there are several alternatives to consider if you’re looking for a smaller vehicle with a little bit more ability to play in the dirt. 
Best Suzuki alternative
Suzuki Samurai
$7,000 to $10,000 used
The Samurai is a bit of a cult classic when it comes to off-roading, especially if it’s had the proper mods.
Best crossover alternative
2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness
The Wilderness trim level increases the Outback’s off-road chops and makes it ready to take on light snow, dirt roads, or camping trips.
Best small SUV
2022 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
The Trailhawk trim brings Jeep’s legendary off-road ability to the compact Compass.
MORE:Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Off-road vehicles can be a ticket to fun and adventure, but they are unfortunately also more expensive to insure. Taking a vehicle off road often means more potential for damage, and insurance companies will charge higher premiums for an off-road vehicle as a result. 
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