2001 Suzuki Esteem Review

Used Esteem for sale
List Price Estimate:$910 - $2,106
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Suzuki Esteem model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Strong 1.8-liter engine, sporty wheels with performance-oriented tires, attractive -- if not distinctive -- exterior design.
  • Engine gets noisy at high revs, so-so suspension, no cruise control or ABS with manual transmission, doesn't offer the most appealing value package in this segment.

An also-ran at the economy car track meet.

Vehicle overview

There is nothing really objectionable about the Esteem sedan and wagon, but the economy car segment is not what it used to be -- at least not since a Focus and a fresh batch of Sentras, Proteges and Elantras arrived. Now, it seems that customers are looking for value (!), socially acceptable aesthetics and a bit of driving amusement. The Esteem has been around since 1995, and it has never been able to deliver all three, though advertising (that ideally, would get people into the dealerships) has not been especially heavy-handed, either. Slowly, Suzuki has enhanced the Esteem, but we're not sure that the company is moving expediently enough to rescue the car from the cellar of the segment in sales.

One of these improvements came last year when Suzuki made the 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine standard on all models. This engine makes 122 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 117 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. These numbers are competitive for this class, but we've observed more engine roar in the Esteem from 4,000 to 6,800 rpm than we have in its peers. The noise isn't obnoxious -- there is simply more of it.

We've found ride quality acceptable on highways and city streets, at least until the Esteem encounters a pothole or an expansion joint. We suspect that its inability to soak these up has to do with its low-tech suspension setup -- MacPherson struts at each corner and a single antiroll bar in the front. Wagons get a second antiroll bar in the rear.

You can buy a sedan or a wagon in one of three trim levels. Base-level GL cars are outfitted with air conditioning, power steering, rear window defogger, fold-down rear seat, breakaway mirrors -- and for 2001, floor mats and an in-dash CD player. The addition of this audio essential could help move more Esteems off the lot -- among its peers, only the Focus offers this nicety in base models. In comparison, Mazda offers only stereo pre-wiring in the Protege DX. The only option for base models is an automatic transmission. GLX trim offers the most desirable content package: Besides the GL bits, you get upgraded upholstery; remote keyless entry; power windows, mirrors and locks; split-folding rear seat and cool alloy wheels. You can option the sedan with a Sport package (rear spoiler, foglights, chrome-tipped exhausts and blue or silver body color).

Now, if only Suzuki would revise its option packages or allow buyers to purchase certain features a la carte. You see, you have to splurge on top-line GLX+ trim to get "extras" like ABS and cruise control. Or perhaps you want all the goodies of GLX+ trim, except the mandatory automatic transmission. Given this requirement, a bigger engine should be part of the package, as well. Despite this rather serious packaging flaw, you can build yourself a rather stunning small wagon if you opt for the two-tone paint (available on GLX+ wagons) -- silver under-cladding with a Deep Space Blue or Polar White upper body. GLX+ models also have cassette players along with the in-dash CD.

Esteem interiors are user-friendly and solidly constructed, but they don't make you forget how little you paid. Occupants will find the expected amount of plastic and seats that are reasonably comfortable but lack height adjustment and adequate seatback tilt. Nor does the steering wheel have a tilt or telescoping adjustment.

The Esteem's exterior styling might not gouge the sensibilities (in the way that the Focus does), but the mild-mannered may find it pleasant. Suzuki has retouched the grille slightly for 2001 -- the additional horizontal slats give the hood a slightly flatter appearance, which we like. GLX and GLX+ models come with trendy 15-inch wheels, which have 195/55VR15 Yokohama tires wrapped around them. The tires are an unexpected treat in the economy car class, because they are large for the size and weight of the vehicle, and they are biased toward performance rather than fuel economy. We've observed the payoff in grip when pushing this car around corners.

Our chief concern about the Suzuki Esteem is the lack of value -- pricing is high, the trim packaging makes it difficult to tailor a car to your needs, and the warranty is weak. Still, the Esteem is an attractive car with no serious faults, so if you negotiate an extra nice deal on one, you might enjoy it. We encourage you to compare it with similarly equipped peers, though, before you buy.

2001 Highlights

In an effort to ply prospective Esteem buyers, Suzuki has equipped every model with an in-dash CD player. Stereo head units also get larger controls. Elsewhere, you will find gentle cosmetic changes: The front grille has been restyled, the seats are wrapped in a new fabric and floor mats are standard. Sky Blue Metallic is no longer available as an exterior color.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2001 Suzuki Esteem.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.75 out of 5 stars
Good family car/ great on fuel
GL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
Traded my gas guzzling Blazer for this car. This is the second esteem I have owned. the first was a 1999. The CV axles are only good it seems for 100- 130k miles. Comfortable, not a powerhouse by any means but good on gas and the A/C is freezing cold. I have almost 150K on it currently and have had really good luck with Suzuki products as a cheaper alternative to Honda with the same reliability. Folks, keep up maintenance to make it last. Simple. Regular oil changes, tune ups etc. That simple. Fun to drive, I have a bad back at age 33 so the firm seats are great. The factory CD player isn't working but the radio does. I really have no complaints. GREAT ON GAS.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Bulletproof Engines
GLX Plus 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
What is it about motorcycle companies that move on to building cars, they make the best engines. This is the second suzuki I've owned (the first was a sidekick 4 dr), I'm pretty abusive to engines in general, high RPMs & irregular oil changes, and I can't ask for a more dependable powerplant. The rest of the car is only so-so, but I know that the car will still be tooling down the road at well over 200,000 miles.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Outstanding, Reliable Transportation
GL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
I've owned this little car for almost 6 years and drive it to and from work and around town everyday. It runs flawlessly and is actually kinda fun to drive, for a basic economy car. The engine is the best component, typical as with Suzuki motorcycles. Clarion stero is junk but easily replaced. OK it's not a Lexus but I have had absolutely no problems, it's great on gas and I intend and expect to drive it to 200k+ with only normal good maintenance practices. What more could someone expect from any car especially a value-priced underrated bargain. I will surely buy another Suzuki when the time comes.
4.13 out of 5 stars
Good Cute car
GL 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
For a subcompact car, this is a great one. We specifically sought a new Suzuki Esteem because it was the end of the model year, the last year of the Esteem. We figured we could strike a deal on one that a dealer wanted to move off the lot. We ended up finding a great deal on a used one, instead. We love this car, and I think of it as a little Subaru. While somewhat conservative, it stands out from others in its class. As a small 4 cylinder, I expect some noise, but once up to cruising speed, its suprisingly smooth and quiet. Extra space of the wagon makes it feel not-so-small. I reccomend it to anyone searching for cars in the category.

More about the 2001 Suzuki Esteem

Used 2001 Suzuki Esteem Overview

The Used 2001 Suzuki Esteem is offered in the following submodels: Esteem Sedan, Esteem Wagon. Available styles include GL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GL 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX 4dr Sedan w/Cruise (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX Sport 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GLX Plus 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX Plus 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX 4dr Wagon w/Cruise (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GL 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GLX Plus 4dr Wagon w/Two Tone Paint (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GLX 4dr Wagon w/Cruise (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GLX 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GLX 4dr Sedan w/Cruise (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GLX 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), and GLX Sport 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Suzuki Esteem models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 122 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2001 Suzuki Esteem comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 2001 Suzuki Esteem?

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Which used 2001 Suzuki Esteems are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2001 Suzuki Esteems you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

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Should I lease or buy a 2001 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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