Used 2002 Suzuki Aerio Sedan

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2002 Suzuki Aerio
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2002 Suzuki Aerio

Pros

  • Affordable price, large interior, powerful standard engine.

Cons

  • Missing a few key features.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

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.

2002 Highlights

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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2002 Suzuki Aerio.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Suzuki Aerio 2002 GS
blubaustin,07/21/2013
Pretty cheap car to buy bought one for $1400 with 95k miles, currently has 98k miles. Pretty good starter car if you can invest the money in it to keep it running. For example: a person who cant consistently pay a car payment ontop of full coverage insurance but can afford to save up money and eventually fix stuff. Car is pretty peppy so I don't know what other people are talking about on the car not having pep. Also seems to get pretty good gas mileage. Hwy it averages about 35mpg city, I haven't really measured.
2002 Suzuki Aerio
sricaud,01/02/2003
Pleasantly surprised with the acceleration and comfort of this vehicle. Priced several models in this category and got the best value and features for the money.
Bad motor
dee,07/06/2017
This is our second one. I bought it as a back up. We loved this car in the beginning. we bought it used. it was well taken care of, sense my teenager was driven it and she loved it and she wrecked the first. I tried to make sure i kept this one in good shape. I made sure it was in for servicing checks every 6 weeks. She wanted it to last but it didn't--not even with great care. All of a sudden the timing went on it. plus $600 more for other parts--Because my daughter loved it so much..i had to pay to have it fixed. -It was expensive. Then 48 hours after my daughter gets it back it gets low oil pressure light, it had to be towed -another big expense on it. Four different places- say the engine is done, they think the engine seized. I was told by 3 out of the 4 places that no engine is available within 900 miles and the engine that is 900 miles away has a blown head gasket. I'm upset---The inside of my daughters car is like brand new, the cars body is also like brand new, paint is in perfect condition. I invested on a brand new paint job the month before. The car now sits in our garage and my credit card is full of the expense.
A good car that could be better
quickg,04/19/2002
Engine is powerful, but loses luster with AC on. Automatic transmission shifts well. Brakes are generally good, but tend to lock up on wet roads without ABS. Stereo is good. Standard tires on the S are low grade. Handling is stable, steering feel is about right. Interior is spacious in front and back, seats are very comfortable, seating position is tall and provides great forward visibility. However, rear visibility is poor because of a very high rear end. Trunk is huge. Side mirrors are large and folding. The S has power windows, but not power locks. The car is distinctive looking, but side and rear extensions make tires look small and the car look overweight and ungainly.
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Features & Specs

MPG
23 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
141 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
23 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
141 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
23 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
141 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
23 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
141 hp @ 5700 rpm
See all Used 2002 Suzuki Aerio Sedan features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Marginal
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2002 Suzuki Aerio
More About This Model

Look at the compact car market and you'll see a number of tempting choices vying for the consumers' dollar. They are the stalwarts Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, as well as the Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Mazda Protegé and Hyundai Elantra. All good picks. Up until now, Suzuki has been virtually invisible in this arena with its Esteem and Swift models, but it's hoping to change all of that with the new Aerio.

The Aerio is available as either a four-door sedan or as an "SX" ("sport crossover "). The SX is aimed squarely at the Mazda Protegé5, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix. These vehicles are essentially tall, sporty four-door hatchbacks geared toward active guys and gals who need something roomy to transport all their gear but want something that handles better and is more economical than an SUV.

Taking a lesson from the Hyundai school of marketing, Suzuki doesn't bother with stripped versions of its small car, providing a generous level of standard features for each version. Even the S sedan comes nicely equipped with air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, fog lamps, a six-speaker stereo with CD deck, a tilt-adjustable wheel and a digital display for the speedometer and tachometer. Edmunds staffers were split on the digital dash; one editor compared it to cars of the 1980s, when digital displays ran rampant. Another didn't mind it and cited two current sports cars, the Porsche Boxster and the Honda S2000, as modern examples of cars with digital gauges.

Moving up to the GS sedan or SX sport wagon further fattens up the standard equipment list with the addition of alloy wheels, keyless entry, power door locks, cruise control, a driver seat height adjuster, a rear seat center armrest, color-keyed mirrors and door handles, a chrome exhaust tip and a rear spoiler.

Safety is attended to with a structure designed to absorb and control crash energy via four crossmembers and high-tensile roof pillars. There is also a LATCH system for the child seats. We did notice, however, that side airbags are currently not offered on the Aerio.

Both models ride a wheelbase of 97.6 inches but overall length differs between the two, with the sedan at 171.3 inches and the hatchback, oddly enough, shorter at 166.5 inches. With an overall height 3 to 4 inches greater than other sedans in its class (the Aerio measures in at 60.8 inches tall; a Civic stands 56.7 inches), the Aerio sedan boasts a surprising amount of passenger and cargo room. The sedan has an impressive 14.6-cubic-foot trunk. Another benefit of the taller stature is ease of entry and exit, as the seats have a higher "hip point" than is typical, meaning one needn't stoop down to get into an Aerio.

The downside of the Aerio's space efficiency is a chunky profile that, because of the high beltline and greenhouse, makes the 15-inch alloy wheels (standard on the GS and SX) look smaller than they are. And it's not like those are little wheels; not too long ago, cars this size came with 13-inch wheels and full-sizers, such as a Ford Crown Victoria, had 15s. Offering a two-tone paint scheme or blacking out the lower periphery of the car would visually lean it out. Offsetting that design quirk and giving the Aerio some attitude are blistered fenders, an aggressive front fascia and simulated ground-effects. Suzuki also has a catalogue full of accessories, such as chrome side moldings, multi-configurable roof racks, door sill plates and even aluminum or simulated carbon fiber dash accents that allow the buyer to personalize the car.

Unlike most other manufacturers that have a few different engines for their compacts (typically saving the powerful powerplants for the top trim levels), Suzuki offers just one engine for its Aerio: a 2.0-liter DOHC inline four that makes 141 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices consist of either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Fuel economy estimates are set at 26 city/33 highway for the manual and 26 city/31 highway for the automatic. Braking duties are handled by front discs and rear drums, and ABS is optional at $500.

During the car's press introduction, we were impressed by the Aerio's peppy throttle response. And it's a smooth runner for the most part, though at high rpm, the engine can get raucous. This is usually not an issue, as there's plenty of power available without having to spin the tach needle near redline.

Suzuki didn't drop the ball on the transmissions, either. A couple of pet peeves of ours are automatics that upshift too soon (making a car sluggish) and/or are slow to downshift, usually requiring the gas pedal to be mashed to the carpet to grab a lower gear. The Aerio's self-shifter exhibited neither of these nasty traits. A light and precise action characterized the five-speed manual's shifter and, in concert with a likewise effortless and progressive clutch, made running through the gears enjoyable.

Even without the ABS, it was easy to get the most out of the Aerio's binders thanks to a progressive and easily modulated pedal. As always, however, we still recommend the optional antilock system, which will more than pay for itself the first time one needs to slow down quickly and maintain steering ability in a panic situation.

Using McPherson struts all around, the Aerio's fully independent suspension provides capable handling, though there was more body roll (magnified by the vehicle's taller architecture) than we would like. Steering effort was light, which is not a bad thing unless you're a driving enthusiast, in which case you'll likely prefer a meatier feel to the wheel.

On the road, the softer suspension settings were an asset, soaking up the bumps without jostling the passengers — impressive for a car with a wheelbase less than 100 inches. Wind and road noise at freeway speeds were about average for this segment, with the Aerio being quieter than a Dodge Neon and louder than a Toyota Corolla.

The well-equipped, roomy and relatively powerful Aerio sedan offers consumers a worthy alternative to pricier and weaker competition. But it does have a rival to worry about in the form of Hyundai's similarly outfitted and muscular Elantra, which actually lists for less than the Suzuki. The SX hatchback, on the other hand, lists for around $1,500 less than its comparably equipped but less potent competitors. And the availability of all-wheel drive for both body styles (set to debut in September with the 2003 model) will give those who live in the country's snowbelt maximum traction for minimum coin.

After years of going unnoticed in the minor leagues, Suzuki has finally made it to the show and is ready to play with the big boys.

Used 2002 Suzuki Aerio Sedan Overview

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Suzuki Aerio?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Suzuki lease specials
Check out Suzuki Aerio lease specials