1998 Suzuki Esteem 1.6L from North America


Economical little car that is big on the inside


CV joints.




Windows and door handle problems.

General Comments:

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

1998 Suzuki Esteem GL 1.6 litre 16v four cylinder from North America


Just what a Japanese car should be - small, buzzy and fun to drive


Leaky radiator hoses resulting in a messy driveway and poor performance of the interior heating and cooling systems.

Suzuki uses a muffler-within-a-muffler on the Esteem. The outer layer of muffler has rusted out, but there is an inner layer which is still solid. The muffler is still fully functional because of these two lines of rust defense.

Windshield washer fluid doesn't squirt properly. The hose that connects the reservoir to the nozzle keeps coming off. It is a bad situation when you are driving on a slushy spring day and you cannot clean your windshield. That said, I haven't bothered to get a mechanic to fix it.

General Comments:

This is a fuel efficient and practical little wagon. It's fun to drive with the manual transmission and actually has pretty good pick up and handling.

I get about 600km out of a full 45 litre tank.

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. The winters here can be very cold and snowy. Our Suzuki starts right up, even on the coldest mornings and bombs through the snow without any difficulty. We do put winter tires on. The edge the Esteem has is that, unlike many small cars, its tires nice are wide and have plenty of surface area to stick to the road.

The Esteem is very nimble on dry roads as well.

The wagon is surprisingly roomy. It has ample room for me, my wife, our baby daughter and our dog. We could probably fit another car seat in the back, but there wouldn't be much room left for groceries.

The interior is quite comfortable for trips around the city. We haven't taken any trips longer than two or three hours, so I can't really say how comfortable it would be on a long road trip.

The fit and finish are almost perfect. There are no annoying squeaks and the body panels all line up like they should do. The only complaint I have about the finish is that the driver's window leaks when there is heavy rain.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th March, 2007

28th Jul 2007, 19:44

Original poster here.

My family fell out of love with our Suzuki Esteem when it took THREE WEEKS to get a part for it.

The engine was making some serious noises, so I dropped it off at our mechanic on June 27, 2007. We were told it would take four business days to get the crank pulley it needed.

Four business days passed. Then two weeks. Then three weeks. The part finally arrived (presumably by pack mule) on July 19, 2007.

While we were waiting, my mechanic, my wife and myself contacted Metro Suzuki in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia numerous times. The typical response was that the part was back-ordered, but it would be there in a day or two.

I actually walked over to the Suzuki dealership (no car = walking). The staff were indifferent and did not offer any apologies. Again, I was assured the part would be there soon.

We live in Halifax, Nova Scotia which is the largest city on the East Coast of Canada. Despite that fact, Suzuki could still not get their act together enough to get the part to us in a reasonable time. Moreover, the people at the dealership didn't seem to see anything wrong with us being stranded. No apologies were offered, let alone an honest explanation or for that matter a discount on the part when it did arrive. I emailed Suzuki Canada and got no response.

The moral of the story is that even though these are cool and quirky little cars, don't buy one unless you've got another car to get you around when Suzuki leaves you stranded for weeks at a time.