When Suzuki first came out with the XL7, it was a fairly new concept to add a third row for seven-passenger seating in a smaller SUV. Eventually, this concept was used by other smaller SUVs in the market. The first-generation XL7 was designed as an extended-wheelbase version of the Grand Vitara. Its third-row seat, although a neat concept, was a bit cramped. Aside from the limited cabin space, the earlier Suzuki XL7 failed to put together a more sophisticated interior. Fortunately, the second generation XL7, a longer Suzuki SUV that looked much better than the old model, was released to make up for some of flaws in design and execution. The newer XL7 had better ride quality and ran more smoothly. It had a more comfortable passenger cabin and a more powerful V6 engine. But despite the redesigns and revisions, the XL7 was rolled out only until 2009.
1998: The first XL-7 came into the scene
Production of the XL-7 started in 1998. When it first came out in the North American market, the first generation XL-7 was the most affordable SUV that featured three-row seating, with a starting price of around 20,000 USD. It was powered by a 2.7-liter V6 engine with a rear-wheel drive system or four-wheel drive platform. Since it's patterned after the Grand Vitara, this SUV had a truck-like construction with body-on-frame design. In 2002, engine power was increased to 183 hp. Antilock brakes also became an optional feature. Other than that, there weren't too many changes done to the earlier batch of the XL-7.
Although the third-row seat was a neat feature, the XL-7 had a limited cargo space. The mechanism used for unfolding the third-row seat was also a bit fussy. Compared to other SUVs, the Suzuki XL-7 didn't have much of the refinement and off-road improvements found in its competition. It didn't fare that well when other brands released SUVs with better features, increased fuel efficiency, and more powerful engines. These SUVs included the Toyota Highlander and Honda CR-V.
2006: A much better XL7 came out
The second-generation Suzuki XL7 (hyphen was later dropped) was unveiled in 2006 and was built as a 2007 model. With Suzuki's partnership with General Motors, the newer XL7 was built using the same unibody platform and other similar components of the Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue, Opel Antara, and Pontiac Torrent. It still had the third-row seat from the first XL-7. The 2007 model had a chrome slotted grille and trapezoidal headlights. It was designed as a mid-size crossover that can seat up to seven passengers. The XL7 was available in Premium, Limited, and Luxury trim levels. The mid-size crossover SUV wasn't only equipped with a more powerful engine but also with a more spacious and more functional interior. The unibody chassis of the XL7 allowed greater performance for the crossover SUV, with car-like ride quality and better reflexes. Handling and maneuverability was also good. However, other SUVs in the same segment provided more in terms of ride quality and steering. Because of the lower demand for the Suzuki XL7, production of this mid-size crossover SUV was discontinued in 2009.