|Compact car; Built in Japan|
|Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,600*|
1997 Suzuki Esteem GL7 4-door sedan
1996 Suzuki Esteem 4-door sedan
1996 Suzuki Esteem interior
1999 Suzuki Esteem 4-door wagon
1998 Suzuki Esteem 4-door sedan
Unimpressive in most areas, except for fuel economy, the Esteem does not deliver acceptable value. For not too many extra dollars, several good alternatives can be found, including a Honda Civic, Geo Prizm, Chevrolet Cavalier, or Dodge/Plymouth Neon.
Suzuki introduced its subcompact Esteem 4-door sedan in spring 1995, as a larger companion to the Swift hatchback. Stylists claimed the shape was European-inspired. The front-drive sedan rode a 97.6-inch wheelbase (4.5 inches longer than the Swift) and, at 165.2 inches, measured nearly 16 inches longer overall. Three versions went on sale: base GL, midrange GLX, and top-line GLX with antilock brakes and cruise control. Only the top GLX had standard air conditioning.
A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 98 horsepower, drove either a 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. Power steering was standard on all models. GLX editions added a cassette stereo, as well as power windows and door locks.
Air conditioning became standard in all versions, in the Esteem’s first full season. Antilock braking remained standard on the top GLX, but unavailable on other models. The GL adopted body-color bumpers instead of black units.
Only the automatic transmission was available this year for the top-line GLX model, with its standard antilock braking. Automatic remained an option for other models.
A station wagon joined the sedan for 1998, with roof rails that could accommodate 100 pounds of cargo. Rear seats in the wagon folded to increase cargo space to 61 cubic feet. Esteem was offered in a choice of trim levels: GL, GLX, and GLX with option package (including ABS), along with a GLX SE version of the station wagon.
Not much was new for the 1999 Esteem sedan and wagon. Suzuki now called its top GLX model the GLX Plus.
For 2000, Suzuki added a new GLX Sport sedan with fog lamps and a rear spoiler. Buyers could now choose either the original 1.6-liter engine or a new dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder, rated at 122 horsepower.
Esteem got a restyled grille, a standard in-dash CD player, floormats, and new seat fabric for 2001.
Suzuki dropped the entry-level Swift hatchback for 2002 and continued its Esteem sedan and wagon with few changes. All got an in-trunk emergency release and revised upholstery. And GLX and GLX-Plus now had 14-inch alloy wheels in place of 15s. Suzuki’s Aerio replaced Esteem for the 2003 model year.