1998 Suzuki Esteem Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Reliable, economical transportation.
  • Price is higher than it should be on an entry-level econobox.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$898 - $2,117

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Sometime during the 1995 model year, the Suzuki Esteem made its American debut. We say sometime because it has been on the market for three years now and we still rarely see them on the roads. After investigating the Esteem, 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. For 1998, the Esteem Wagon joins the lineup, giving the Esteem some much-needed functionality, with 61 cubic feet of cargo room.

Three trim levels are available: base GL and uplevel GLX and 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 better upholstery, 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.

1998 Highlights

A wagon adds diversity to the Esteem lineup.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Suzuki Esteem.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Completely Love this car
cubyogi,08/30/2010
I've owned this car for nearly 9 years, I absolutely love it. More reliable than a horse. Never had any problems at all, and absolutely fun to drive. I live in Michigan, and I've learned to have rust proofing on any future cars. I have to consider selling my Suzuki because the undercarriage is starting to rust.
Great Car
Kay,01/28/2009
I have had my car for 10 years. I rarely had any repair work done on it and it is great on gas. Nothing fancy but very reliable and enjoyable.
Good first car
BrianS,08/01/2009
I had the 5 spd manual and loved it! Gas mileage 35-38. Tranny needed adjusting at 140k and then finally went out at 170K. New brakes were put on. Other than that I made few repairs on it.
Great first car
anthonypavone,09/27/2013
I got this as my first car about six months ago with 134,000 miles on it for about $1,500 not including tax and such. The first time i saw it, i thought it was a subaru legacy. It took a lot of getting used to after driving my mothers 2007 Trailblazer since i started driving but now i hate driving anything else. The engine has very little power and its a little loud but once you get up to speed it holds it very well. Definitely doesn't compare to my friends mustang. The turning radius is fantastic. The rides pretty comfortable. The interior is pretty average. But the best part is that with so many miles, i haven't had any problems; other than my alternator dying at 140,000.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1998 Suzuki Esteem 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
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1998 Suzuki Esteem

Used 1998 Suzuki Esteem Overview

The Used 1998 Suzuki Esteem is offered in the following submodels: Esteem Sedan, Esteem Wagon. Available styles include GLX 4dr Wagon, GL SE 4dr Wagon, GLX 4dr Sedan, GL 4dr Sedan, GLX SE 4dr Wagon, and GL 4dr Wagon.

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Find a used Suzuki Esteem for sale - 9 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $18,402.

Find a used Suzuki for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $22,057.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki Esteem for sale - 3 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $18,176.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki for sale - 11 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $8,977.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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.

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Check out Suzuki Esteem lease specials