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A gas sipper that has little else to recommend it.
Frugal gas mileage, favorable reliability ratings, low price for base model.
Wheezy engine, lack of amenities, ABS unavailable, poor value when stacked against competitors.
Available Swift Hatchback Models
Use the Edmunds Pricing System to help you get the best deal:
The 2001 Suzuki Swift remains mechanically unchanged. Suzuki has changed the exterior color options slightly: Bright White and Platinum Silver Metallic replace Polar White and Mercury Silver Metallic.
Last year, we wrote, "This is it. This is the car for those of you who need to buy a new vehicle but don't have much more than the lint in your pockets to spend." But since then, the redesigned Hyundai Accent and the all-new Kia Rio have arrived on the scene, and both offer more powerful engines, more amenities and better dollar value. Even the Daewoo Lanos, the thriftiest product of a troubled manufacturer, has a more appealing package than the Swift.
Calling Suzuki's entry-level hatchback "Swift" borders on false advertising. Its tiny 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine generates just 79 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 75 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. Of course, this engine is used in both Swift models, while the more expensive base Chevrolet Metro (the Swift's twin) makes do with a 55-horsepower 1.0-liter engine.
Meanwhile, the base Hyundai Accent hatchback comes with a 92-horsepower 1.3-liter engine, and for little more, you can have the hardier 105-horsepower 1.6-liter engine. The Kia Rio sedan, the cheapest car sold in the United States, offers a 1.5-liter that makes 96 horsepower. The Daewoo Lanos models share a 105-horsepower 1.6-liter. And all of these cars reach their peak horsepower at lower rpm than the Swift, though the little Suzuki sucks out its maximum torque earlier than all of its peers.
We've said before that, if nothing else, the Swift draws customers with the promise that you can put one in your driveway for less than $10,000. But the Swift isn't alone anymore. The Kia Rio and the base Accent and Lanos models all sticker under $9,000 and offer standard power steering; Accent and Lanos also come with an AM/FM stereo with cassette. You can add air conditioning and ABS to all three models.
A base Swift GA has an MSRP of just over $9,000, but it doesn't come with power steering. The GA hatchback cannot be optioned with a stereo, air conditioning or ABS, either. Move up to the GL trim level, and you'll get a stereo with a mere two speakers and air conditioning but still no power steering or ABS -- and you're looking at an MSRP of over $10,000. The only factory-installed option for the Swift is a three-speed automatic transmission.
You'll also find that Suzuki's peers offer far better warranties. Hyundais and Kias come with a best-in-class 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Daewoos have shorter warranties (3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile drivetrain), but customers are treated to free scheduled maintenance for the first year of ownership. And Suzuki is the only manufacturer in the group that does not offer roadside assistance.
So what's left to make the Swift an appealing economy car? Excellent gas mileage -- no other gas-powered car in the segment can match its 36 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway. Reliability ratings are encouraging, too. And strangely enough, every Swift is equipped with daytime running lights. Your dealer can also install a CD player to make the car more hospitable.
We agree that the Swift is inexpensive and reliable, and for those who want fabulous fuel economy, it may be a suitable choice. However, buyers should be cautioned that loaded Hyundais and Kias with attractive warranties can be had for about the same price, or better still, a good used vehicle from one of the major Japanese manufacturers.