1998 Suzuki Esteem 1.6L from North America
Economical little car that is big on the inside
Windows and door handle problems.
I have owned the Suzuki Esteem Wagon for over 3 years now, and have put over 45k miles on it. I bought it as a quick-replacement for another car that I had braking down, I think I only paid $1500 for the car - I just needed temporary transportation. I still drive this car all the time, and don't think I'll sell it until it really starts falling apart.
The engine seems dead reliable and very well made, although it will definitely leave you wishing for more power when getting on the freeway (at least with the auto transmission). Once you are up there though, it cruises happily at 70-80mph. I consistently get 28mpg, which I guess isn't bad, and I don't drive it gently either.
The only problems I've had with this car were the starter went out - which caused the battery and alternator to strain. Ended up replacing all three and it seems much better. The other problem is the CV joints. The previous owner told me he had replaced them twice, and they were making noise when I bought the car. I let them go and they finally fell apart at 155k. Replacement was pretty easy, and we'll see how long they last now. I would have no hesitation jumping in this car and driving it across the country.
The most impressive thing about this car though, and the reason I like it so much, is how much space it has inside. If you fold down the rear seats, you can haul a surprising amount of stuff - and the roof rack adds to its capability as well.
The seating area is roomy and controls are all easy to operate. Only other things is left rear passenger door handle doesn't work from the outside, and the drivers window requires help to stay in its track when rolling it back up - which makes drive thrus annoying.
Overall I would definitely recommend this car for a cheap form of reliable, utilitarian transportation. Just don't expect it to be what it's not (a sports car) and it will serve you well.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th October, 2009