Suzuki Across PHEV

Specifications: Suzuki Across PHEV

  • Run by: Phil Hall since March 2023
  • Price when new: £48,129 (£48,129 including options)
  • Engine: 2.5-litre plug-in hybrid
  • Power: 305PS
  • Torque: 391Nm
  • Claimed economy: 282.4mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 22g/km
  • Insurance group: 39

Report 1: We welcome Suzuki's Across to the fleet

Nope, we haven't got confused. It might look like a Toyota RAV4, but it's definitely a Suzuki...we think.

Date: 3 March 2023 | Current mileage: 6012 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 91.2mpg

Let's get this out of the way first. Our new Suzuki Across PHEV long termer is in essence a rebadged Toyota RAV4 and it's the fruits of a relatively new alliance between Suzuki and Toyota.

Rather than pumping huge resource into developing its own hybrid system (and a car to go with it), Suzuki's been able to get hold of the popular RAV4 and put its own badges on it and get it into its own dealership network. We've seen similar with the Toyota Corolla and Suzuki Swace recently and it's not all one-way traffic, as Toyota is getting a number of rebadged Suzuki small cars for the Indian market. 

Anyway, back to the Across and we're perhaps not being that generous when we say that it's just a rebadged RAV4. In fact, the front bumper, grille and headlight design is different to that of the RAV4 and we reckon to our eyes at least, it's the more successful of the two. 

Unlike Toyota which offers the RAV4 in hybrid and plug-in hybrid flavours, the Across is only available as a PHEV. This single engine choice sees a 2.5-litre petrol engine partnered with an 18.1kWh battery to deliver a combined power output of 305PS - pretty impressive for a family SUV and more poke than something like a Ford Kuga PHEV to boot. It'll hit 62mph in 6 seconds and comes with an electric-only range of up to 46 miles. 

Suzuki has kept things simple when it comes to deciding on trim levels too, with only one to choose from. That said, it's pretty comprehensive and comes with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, keyless entry, a rear parking camera, electric tailgate and heated seats.

One item missing from that list is a sat nav - there isn't one, despite there being a button for one on the infotainment display. Luckily there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. 

The Suzuki Across is currently priced at £48,129, which is a bit more than the equivalent RAV4 in Dynamic trim. That said, you can't get your hands on a new RAV4 at the moment, so an Across might find its way out of the shadows and become a bit more of a popular sight on UK roads.

We'll be living with one for the next six months to see how it stacks up as a family SUV...

Report 2: Is the Suzuki Across a proper 4x4?

Unlike a lot of family SUVs the Suzuki Across has four-wheel drive. Is it any good?

Date: 24 March 2023 | Current mileage: 6321 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 83.3mpg

When people buy a family SUV, there's a certain expectation that because of the raised driving position and form factor, they must be four-wheel drive. The reality is that many aren't, and are simply driven by the two front wheels. Our Ford Kuga PHEV we ran last year for example was front-wheel drive.

There's nothing wrong with that - for most people's needs, a front-wheel drive car with some decent tyres will be more than up to the job for most UK roads. Our Suzuki Across though comes with four-wheel drive as standard, so how does it stack up?

Taking a closer look at the spec sheet and the Across uses what Suzuki calls an E-Four electronic 4x4 system. This sees a 40kW motor on the rear wheels work in tandem with hybrid system powering the front wheels, with the result the ability to vary the torque ratio between the front and rear wheels. Depending on the conditions, it should enable better traction on slippery surfaces. 

To manage all of this there's what's known as as AWD Integrated Management (AIM), which controls a number of things including throttle control, transmission shift, electric power steering assistance and braking depending on the surface conditions. 

The Suzuki Across also has a dedicated Trail mode - an automatic limited slip differential control that works by applying the brakes to the wheels that begin to lose grip, redirecting torque to the other wheels to maintain grip. 

While I haven't had an excuse to take it properly off-road just yet, the damp and wet spring has meant the edge of the local woods where we walk the dog has become a boggy mess with deep mud covering the ground.

In the past this has meant it's been a bit of a no-go area as the sloping camber means a front-wheel drive car is likely to get stuck, but the Across has been brilliant, even without engaging the Trail mode. 

It's not going to be troubling the best 4x4s, but the Across is a solid performer that's more than up to the job for most people who are looking for an SUV like this. You could even enhance it's 4x4 credentials even further with some dedicated mud and snow tyres, but be prepared to compromise the on-road performance a bit. 

Report 3: Google Maps comes to the rescue

With no built-in sat nav coming with the Across, you better remember your smartphone if you want to get anywhere unfamiliar.

Date: 14 April 2023 | Current mileage: 6571 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 66.8mpg

The Suzuki Across comes with plenty of features as standard, but one thing that's missing is a built-in sat nav. There's a shortcut button labelled 'Nav' beside the 9.0-inch infotainment display, but press this and the screen will rather pathetically display 'function not available'.

It's a different story on the Toyota RAV4 sister car though as pressing it will activate the car's sat nav. All rivals come with some form of sat nav built-in and remember this isn't a budget runaround either, with new OTR prices over £48,000.

So why isn't it on our Across? Well, Suzuki reckon's that customers are using their smartphone's mapping system to navigate, so dropped the sat nav from the Across entirely.

I can certainly see the logic here, but there's a certain expectation that every owner will have a decent data package to sustain this with regular use, while we've probably all found ourselves without a phone signal when trying to navigate to somewhere. It seems unnecessary penny-pinching to me.  

What you do get is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, leaving you to choose your mapping app of choice to navigate you to your destination.

It's disappointing to find that Suzuki doesn't offer wireless connectivity for either systems, requiring you to connect your phone to a USB-A socket (again, it's a shame there's no USB-C sockets).

The resolution of the screen and clarity is a little underwhelming compared to rivals, but on the plus side the display is mounted high on the dash so it's easy to see.

Connection and set-up to our Android device was also nice and straightforward, while once you're up and running on Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay for that matter), you hardly need to revert back to the menu system of the Across. Which is just as well really - it looks dated with little graphical flair. 

Report 4: Putting the 'Sport' in SUV?

With an impressive 0-62mph time, our Suzuki Across is hot hatch quick. But is that the whole story?

Date: 5 May 2023 | Current mileage: 6903 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 83.5mpg

On its own the 175PS 2.5-litre petrol engine sounds a little underwhelming, but with an electric motor on the front axle and one on the rear, the Suzuki Across enjoys a combined output of 305PS.

This sees our large family SUV hit 62mph in as little as 6.0 seconds, making it noticeably quicker than the Ford Kuga PHEV we ran a year or so ago.

While it's not going to keep up with something like a Honda Civic Type R away from the lights, other hot hatch owners might find themselves a little embarrassed as an SUV pulls away from them. 

The rapid progress you'll be making in the Across though will be dulled by the sound of the e-CVT transmission whining away as the revs build.

To avoid this and if you've got enough charge, you can change the driving mode of the Suzuki Across to electric-only. Now when you put your foot down the car will leap towards the horizon in near silence, with just the whirr of the electric motors for company. 

On a more practical level, the Across is nice and responsive once you're on the move, picking up nicely when you need to make that overtake on a single-lane road or join a motorway.

Just make sure you keep the battery topped up if you can as the performance can take a bit of a hit and there's noticeably less oomph. But the Suzuki Across has some clever charging modes to avoid this that I'll delve into a bit more next time. 

Report 5: Living with a PHEV SUV

Is it possible to get close to those impressive MPG figures you see on the spec sheet of a PHEV? We find out...

Date: 26 May 2023 | Current mileage: 7012 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 94mpg

Browse the spec list of any plug-in hybrid and one of the things that jumps out at you is the the claimed fuel economy figures. With MPG in the triple figures they car even make the most efficient diesel engine blush. Take our Suzuki Across for example. It has an official combined fuel consumption of 282.4mpg, but rivals are just as impressive on paper. Both the Hyundai Tucson PHEV and Ford Kuga PHEV have an official figure of 201.8mpg.

The trouble is that plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) tend to perform rather badly for Real MPG, which seems at odds with their advertised fuel economy figures. Owners report that their PHEVs are getting nowhere near the claimed MPG on the spec sheet and tend to lay the blame with their car.   

The thing is though, plug-in hybrid cars aren't really designed to be driven without the battery topped up. Don't bother to charge it up and you're going to be relying on the engine to not only lug you and your family around, but also a pretty hefty battery as well. 

Having now run a couple of PHEVs in the last year or so, I've become pretty diligent at charging at home, and it's been the same with the Across. With an official battery-only range of 46 miles, the Across has been pretty much trundling around under battery-power alone most of the time. It's been silently moving us around on the school run, trips into town and journeys slightly further afield. 

I'd like to get a wall box charger installed at some point to cut down the charging time to around two and a half hours, but for now I'm having to top up the Across' battery via a domestic 3-pin plug and running a lead from the garage. I'm finding I have to do this about two to three times a week, plugging it in once I'm home and then switching the power on once I go to bed. Come the morning and the Across is fully charged and ready to go. One slight irk I have though is the tinny feel and sound of the EV flap opening and closing (and the same can be said for the fuel filler flap) - it feels cheap and is at odds with the rest of the car. 

That's forgivable though as the range is impressive. Temperatures might be more favourable now than they were in the winter, but unlike some rivals, I'm finding I'm genuinely getting the 46 mile battery-only range that Suzuki claims, and not some figure that's 10-20% down on that. 

Keep the battery fully charged and having the Across' in EV mode and you'll be nudging the claimed 282.4mpg. However, on longer runs where you'll easily deplete the battery, you can expect things to be much lower however. Even if the battery's flat it can be a still deliver 50mpg or thereabouts on a motorway run, and higher still if you've got some charge left, leaving the Across to regulate itself between battery and engine for the best efficiency. You can even top the battery up on the move in Charge mode if you want additional battery power later on in your journey.

Report 6: The all-in-one family SUV?

Brisk performance, a decent boot, a durable interior and plenty of space, the Across ticks pretty much all the boxes when it comes to a family SUV.

Date: 16 June 2023 | Current mileage: 7299 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 92mpg

Four months in to running the HJ Suzuki Across and without much fanfare, it's slipped into coping with the demands of family life perfectly. 

The backseats of the Across are filled with two car seats that have been hooked up with with thanks to the concealed ISOFIX mounting points.

There's no sliding rear bench like the Ford Kuga, but they do recline a little and the rear outer seats are heated. Something the girls haven't been able to enjoy with their child seats, but older passengers will really appreciate this creature comfort come the colder months.

One little annoyance is the position of the seat belt buckles - in an effort to keep them out of the way, they're a faff to find a plug into, especially if you're in a rush on the school run. 

The boot of the Across is nice and spacious as well. Officially it's 520 litres which is more than you can expect to find in most PHEV SUVs of this size, swallowing up the various bits of luggage, shopping and rubbish that comes with a family.

We've happily got two kid's bikes in the back, while our dog isn't short on space either when she comes out with us. Fold the seats down and boot space increases to 1630 litres and it's been perfect for cramming loads of rotten planks of wood into the back for a tip run.

The automatic tailgate opens and closes at what's best described as a pedestrian pace, though, which can become tiring after a while. Especially if you just want to lob stuff in the boot in the rain.

Up front and while it might not wow like some other interiors with their slick designs and snazzy displays, the Suzuki Across is pleasingly functional to use.

There are large and easy to use climate control dials - no prodding of unresponsive touchscreens here, while the heated seats are controlled by large, chunky switches. The central console isn't going to win any Red Dot design awards then, but it gets the job done.

All the seats are finished in synthetic leather that's soft to the touch, while anyone who has kids will appreciate how easy they are to clean should there be the odd unfortunate spillage/piece of melted chocolate/sticky finger incident.

The back also sports a lot of hard wearing plastic - they might not be that great to look at, but with children clambering over seats each day, they've stood up well. Things are a bit nicer in the front, with a more generous amount of synthetic leather and some very comfy seats.

With black seats, black carpets, black trim and black lining though, it does feel a bit dark and dingy in the cabin. Some lighter trim options would make a world of difference, or the option to spec a panoramic roof.  

The Across is a pretty hefty car, so round town the front and rear parking sensors, as well as the rear reversing camera have been really handy. The resolution of the camera could be better if we're being picky, though the display is pretty large.

The graphic to show you which sensor is pinging could also be larger and more prominently placed - it's too tucked away.

It's not without it's little quirks and frustrations, while there could be a bit more flare when you step inside, but bundle in the EV-only and the Across is becoming a dependable family SUV that soaks up pretty much anything we throw at it. 

Report 7: 1000 miles in our Across

We take our long-term Suzuki Across over to France for a family holiday and get a real feel for what it's like on a long journey.

Date: 31 July 2023 | Current mileage: 8472 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 42mpg

While we've done the odd long journey in our long-term test Suzuki Across, we hadn't really taken it on a proper long road trip. A family holiday to the west of France was going to be the perfect opportunity.

First thing I needed to do was brim the fuel tank the day before - having been topping up the battery regularly and running around in EV mode had meant I'd not really needed to darken a petrol station forecourt in a while.

With that done and the battery fully charged I had a range of just under 500 miles and door to door the drive was looking at around 470 miles - could we get there on fumes or was a mid-journey top-up needed? 

With the Across loaded up we creeped off our driveway at 4am - and we avoided waking the neighbours thanks to the battery powering us away in near silence. For the first leg of the journey down to the Tunnel we were pretty much on battery power alone and the MPG was looking pretty healthy, but that soon changed once that had been used up and we were on petrol power alone. 

On the crossing and it was pretty straightforward to dive into the menu and swap from mph to km/h in anticipation of the 6 hour drive a head of us. Once on the other side and safely on the A16 the adaptive cruise control was engaged and we set into a steady cruise. The only issue was the over zealous lane mitigation system, which really tugged at the steering wheel as you floated along the ultra-smooth autoroute - quite a contrast to the gentle inputs we experienced on our previous Volvo V90 long-termer. Once it was deactivated it became a much more relaxing drive. 

It was going to be cutting it fine getting to our destination with the one tank of fuel so rather than have a stressful remainder of the drive, we opted to fill up (at a pretty lumpy €1.99 per litre) and after 8 odd hours in the car, we arrived at our home for the week.

Taking a PHEV on a long drive was never going to be the most economical solution - once the 46 mile range of the batteries had depleted, it was not only going to be lugging four of us with luggage, but also a drained battery for company as well. The result was just over 40mpg isn't spectacular and it's times like this that a diesel comes into its own... 

That said, the Suzuki Across whisked us to our destination and back home without missing a beat, with comfy seats and plenty of space for everyone. 

Report 8: Putting the Sport in SUV

We make our Across more practical with the addition of a bike carrier.

Date: 18 August 2023 | Current mileage: 8673 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 41.6mpg

Look at any advertising campaigns and you would be led to believe that SUVs are your gateway to an active and outdoor lifestyle. Slick photography has SUVs parked up at a lake edge next to a tent, or on the beach with some surfboards, or with a kayak next to a river. You get the idea. Reality though is most SUVs bumble around town. 

With a chance to test out Thule's ProRide roof bike rack, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to dip into that SUV lifestyle for a bit with our long-term Suzuki Across. Especially as I'm trying to inflict my love of cycling on the rest of my family. 

If I wanted to transport bikes around with the Across, buying into a roof rack system looked like the only way to go. With no towbar fitted to the Across, a towbar bike rack was out of the question, while boot-mounted bike racks aren't compatible with the Across either according to Thule. If you're unsure about your own car, then Thule's incredibly comprehensive car compatibility chooser is great. Interestingly though, while some other SUVs like the Ford Kuga can't accommodate a boot-mounted bike rack, rivals like the VW Tiguan and Skoda Karoq can. 

Chucking bikes on the roof of your car might not appeal - your pride and joy perched atop your car can look pretty vulnerable and I've heard enough horror stories about height restriction signs and cracked carbon, but this was on the only solution if I didn't want to cram it in the back of the boot. 

However, once the rack was in place, I shouldn't have worried. Fitting the WingBar Evo roof rack system (£286) was pretty painless and thanks to the flush roof rails of the Across, it feels properly secure once bolted on. The ProRide (£150) attaches to that just as easily and once the bike's attached, it feels nice and secure. The combo gives you plenty of confidence when driving that it's not going to move about or worst of all - fall off, while there's a lock to keep the bike safe when you stop and leave the car. 

I thought I was going to have to get 3-4 ProRides to get all the bikes on the roof, but the generous size of the Across boot means I can get the girl's bikes in the boot and put my wife's and my bike on the roof. There will be a time though when I need to get additional bike roof racks as the girl's bikes get bigger, but that's the beauty of the system. It's easy to expand and fit additional racks as needed.  

Report 9: We bid farewell to the Suzuki Across

After six months and more than 3000 miles, it’s time to say goodbye to our Suzuki Across.

Date: 25 August 2023 | Current mileage: 8744 | Claimed economy: 282.4mpg | Actual economy: 67.4mpg

After six months of running our Across, our time with it has come to an end and the man from Suzuki has taken it away. 

On a practical level, there's been not much to grumble about with the Suzuki Across. It's handled everything we've thrown at it as a family. Be that the school run, nipping into town, long motorway drives, brief forays off-road and trips to the tip, it hasn't once really come up short. Whatever the conditions, there's a sense that the Across won't flinch.

There's also a big tick against it for practicality. There's been plenty of space for a family of four (and a dog), it's comfy and the durable materials dotted round the cabin mean it's stood up to a fair amount of abuse and still looked fresh once it had had a good clean. The boot is a good (and useful) size - it's swallowed up two decent sized kids bikes with ease, something I couldn't do with a Range Rover Velar I had on test recently.

The plug-in hybrid engine in the Across is a tale of two halves. Keep it charged and you'll waft along in near silence and get close to that impressive claimed MPG, but let it run out of charge and the whine of the CVT gearbox will deliver constant engine noise as it holds the revs to accelerate. And your MPG will drop into the low 40s. 

The interior is functional (with a decent amount of switches and dials for quick access to some controls), but it lacks the flare that you'd hope to find in a car that costs almost £50,000. As I've said before, the infotainment tech feels dated, while the absence of a built-in sat nav is disappointing. If there had been wireless phone connectivity I wouldn't have minded so much, but every time I needed to use Android Auto for Google Maps I needed to plug it in to a USB lead. 

While the Suzuki interpretation of Toyota's RAV4 design is a little more successful with a sharper-looking frontend (to my eyes at least), it's still not a car you're going to be looking back at once you've parked. To be fair though, that's a symptom most SUVs suffer from. 

For me at least, the Suzuki Across is an incredibly dependable family SUV and gets a lot of things right, but it somehow doesn't quite hit the mark. It's one of those cars that's comfy and gets the job done without much fuss, but not something you'll miss once it's gone.