Used 2002 Suzuki Aerio Review

A worthwhile compact car from Suzuki. Still a few paces off the pack leaders, however.

what's new

The Aerio is Suzuki's new compact car. Available in both sedan and wagon format, the Aerio boasts a powerful engine, distinctive styling and an affordable price.

vehicle overview

Compared to the Japanese giants like Honda, Nissan and Toyota, Suzuki has never achieved huge success with its cars here in America. Trucks and motorcycles have been its forte. For 2002, Suzuki finally hopes to make some real noise with its Aerio.

Available in sedan and hatchback versions, the Aerio is all-new. Its styling is meant to look aerodynamic (hence the name) and distinctive. The sedan, despite being shorter in length than most other compact cars, offers a surprisingly roomy cabin and trunk. The Aerio SX hatchback (looking more like a tall wagon than a hatchback) is also big inside. Something we're not so fond of is the digital gauge cluster; a variety of automakers tried these in the '80s, and the buying public hated them. Also, the list of safety features is short: ABS is available as an option, but Suzuki has decided not to offer side airbags at all.

Both the sedan and hatchback are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 141 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual tranny is standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. An all-wheel-drive version of the Aerio will make its way to dealerships near you come September.

Buyers of the Aerio sedan get to choose between two trims. The S offers standard features such as air conditioning, a six-speaker single-play CD audio system, power windows and a tilt steering wheel. The upscale GS trim offers add-ons such as power door locks, cruise control, front-seatback pockets, 15-inch alloy wheels, color-keyed door handles and mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, keyless remote entry and a rear spoiler. The Aerio SX comes with the same features as the GS sedan. No matter what you order, you won't be paying much; the GS and SX have MSRPs less than $15,000.

But is a cheap price enough to justify a purchase? The compact car segment is more competitive than ever, and there are a few cars that we would likely pick over the Aerio. However, Suzuki's contender does manage to separate itself from the pack by offering all-wheel drive; currently, Toyota and Subaru are the only other automakers to offer this on an economy car. If you're looking for a compact capable of beating down rough weather, the Aerio might be worth a look.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.