1997 Suzuki Esteem Review

Pros & Cons

  • Reliable, economical transportation.
  • Price is higher than it should be on an entry-level econobox.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$643 - $1,519

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Sometime during the 1995 model year, the Suzuki Esteem debuted. We say sometime because it has been on the market for two years now and we still rarely see them on the roads. After investigating them we think that we've figured out why there are so few of them being sold. Although it's a cute little sedan, it suffers from too little power and too much MSRP, competing in a field of cars that offer superior value for the dollar. We don't dislike the Esteem. It's an attractive, well-equipped little car. The problem is that the window sticker makes us think Dodge Neon, while the car itself makes us think Kia Sephia. Get the drift?

All Esteems are powered by a 98-horsepower, 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder engine connected to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A four-wheel independent suspension damps irregularities in the pavement. As of 1996, daytime running lights are standard.

Two trim levels are available, base GL and uplevel GLX. Air conditioning is standard on the GL, as well as power steering, rear window defogger, remote fuel door and trunk releases, dual mirrors and a fold-down rear seat. GLX models add power windows, locks and mirrors; as well as a recently upgraded cassette stereo, split-folding rear seat, tachometer and larger tires. An ABS option package is available for the GLX, and it includes cruise control.

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, the Esteem isn't very big inside or out. It offers about as much value as a Toyota Tercel DX sedan, which is to say, not much. The Japanese yen is simply too strong for Suzuki, or Toyota for that matter, to price their subcompact cars at a reasonable level. Domestic and South Korean nameplates offer far better value in this segment, especially when you consider the rather skimpy warranty Suzuki provides for the Esteem.

Like we said, we don't dislike this car. At another time, in another era, we'd wholeheartedly recommend it. In the nineties, however, we feel that there are other small sedans that offer far better value.

1997 Highlights

No changes to the economical Esteem.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Suzuki Esteem.

5 reviews
Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Best car for the money
stormy23 ,11/25/2008
GL 4dr Sedan
We bought this car with 60,000 miles on it in 1998. We have had this car for 10 years and only put a water pump into it and of course brakes and normal maintenance. The car now has 168000 miles and now has died on us. We are very upset. The engine locked up on it. But honestly ,we paid $9000 for it ,which was too much at the time but we needed a car and this is all we could get with our credit at the time. I would recomend this car to anyone.
Amazing Little Car!
GLX 4dr Sedan
I bought this little car and even though it is over 11 years old it is running great. I only needed it to go about town in, and as I only work 2 miles from home, it is perfect. I do occasionally take for longer highway trips and it does great there too. I love this reliable, tiny car. I live up a really steep, windy driveway and it does well on the sharp curves. It gets excellent gas mileage, friends have even commented on how rarely I need gas. I plan to take care of it and hope it lasts many years to come.
Transmission Problems
GL 4dr Sedan
Expect to have gear and transmission problems after 50,000 miles.
Not to shabby
Cruzin Cheap,04/10/2003
GL 4dr Sedan
I've owned this rig for about a year and haven't had any problems. I get good gas milage (27) and seems to have good pick up. The only problem I have is that the interior components are very crappy. The carpet has holes all over the place and pulls out from the frame very easily. It handles well and I haven't had a single problem with the engine. It is a bit narrow and doesn't fit 3 people in the back very well. The front seats are kinda cheap (I can feel the metal springs and I only weigh 160lbs). A fun cheap little car.


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
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Suzuki Esteem

Used 1997 Suzuki Esteem Overview

The Used 1997 Suzuki Esteem is offered in the following submodels: Esteem Sedan. Available styles include GL 4dr Sedan, and GLX 4dr Sedan. The Used 1997 Suzuki Esteem comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Suzuki Esteem?

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Which used 1997 Suzuki Esteems are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Suzuki Esteems you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Suzuki Esteem for sale - 9 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $12,535.

Find a used Suzuki for sale - 10 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $15,350.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki Esteem for sale - 4 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $10,474.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki for sale - 8 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $14,810.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Suzuki Esteem?

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 Esteem lease specials