What's New for 2000
All Esteems get the 1.8-liter engine, starting with the September 1999 production run. GLX and GLX+ models receive 15-inch wheels and tires as standard equipment. Two new paint colors, Bluish Black Pearl and Cassis Red Pearl, replace Mars Red and Midnight Black.
Competing in the subcompact market, the Esteem Sedan and Wagon are available in three equipment levels: GL, GLX and GLX+. The Esteem's styling is better than most of the cars in this class, featuring softly curved lines, a chrome grille, and large, angled multi-reflector headlights.
For 2000, a 1.8-liter, 16-valve, double overhead-cam engine is standard on all models (although GL Sedans will make do with the 95-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine until September 1999). The 1.8-liter generates 122 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 117 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. Acceleration is acceptable with this engine, though it becomes noisy when pushed.
All three of the trim levels come with a long list of standard equipment. The base model GL features items such as an AM/FM/cassette stereo system, an electric rear-window defogger, a fold-down rear seat, a remote trunk release, and 185/60R14 all-season tires. The GLX and GLX+ add upgraded upholstery, keyless entry, power windows and locks, a split-folding rear seat, a tachometer, and larger, all-season radial tires. Air conditioning and power steering are standard on all three trim levels.
The Esteem Sedan and Wagon will seat five. The Wagon holds 61 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seatbacks folded down. Suzuki also says the integrated roof rails can hold up to 100 pounds of cargo. The interior does suffer from seats that lack height or lumbar adjustment and a steering wheel that doesn't tilt. Hard plastic is the predominant interior material used.
We'd like to say that the Esteem is now on equal footing with the rest of the subcompact market. Unfortunately, this is a crowded segment and it takes more than clean styling and a 1.8-liter engine to compete. With the Esteem's lackluster warranty and merely adequate performance, entries from Dodge, Ford, and even Hyundai offer superior value.