1996 Suzuki Sidekick Review

Used Sidekick for sale
List Price Estimate:$637 - $1,355
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Suzuki Sidekick model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Even folks who find it easy to fault small sport-utes run the risk of falling for a Sidekick--especially the convertible model. Neither a true truck nor a car, this mini SUV has created a niche that other manufacturers are rushing to capitalize on. The Geo Tracker that's sold by Chevrolet dealers is basically identical, and the Kia Sportage is a new competitor. Soon, Toyota will have its own tiny sports-utility vehicle for sale. Suzuki aims the Sidekick squarely at teens and 20-somethings, but older adventurers are likely to find it irresistible, too.

The Sidekick is available in two body styles and two series totaling three trim levels. Basic Sidekicks come with a frisky 16-valve, 95-horsepower engine in JS or JX trim. The JS is a two-wheel drive runabout; the JX a four-wheel drive mountain goat. Convertible and four-door Hardtop models are available. New for 1996 is a Sport model, which is offered only with the four-door body style in JX and JLX trim.. Hallmarks of the Sport include a larger, more powerful twin-cam engine good for 120 horsepower, and a track that has been increased by two inches for increased stability and response. Sixteen-inch tires and wheels, a shiny grille, and a two-tone paint scheme set the Sport model even further apart from garden-variety Sidekicks.

All Sidekick models get a revised instrument panel that contains dual airbags and dual cupholders. Daytime running lights also debut in 1996. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional on Sidekick; standard on Sidekick Sport. Exclusive to the Sport is a 100-watt Alpine stereo system, cruise control (on the JLX only), security alarm system, power windows and locks, split-fold rear seat, remote fuel door release, cloth door trim, power remote mirrors, rear window wiper/washer and overhead map lights. The Sport also gets unique paint colors from which to select.

Basic Sidekicks get a new grille and bumpers, new exterior colors, and new seat fabrics. Frankly, the base Sidekick is the better looking vehicle. The Sport's two-tone paint and chrome-ringed grille make the Sidekick look like a little freckle-faced kid wearing an Armani suit. The monochromatic look of the base model, combined with the Sport's engine and track width, would be a hot setup -- too bad Suzuki doesn't see it that way.

The manual gearbox on the base Sidekick we drove shifted easily, helped by good clutch action. Optional automatic transmissions have a normal and power mode. Though fairly quiet ordinarily, hard-throttle start-ups produced some engine roar. Steering is a lot lighter than expected. Highly stable on the highway, the Sidekick slips easily in and out of traffic and into off-road or rural situations. Despite a short wheelbase, there's no sensation of danger. Gas mileage is good, too.

Not everyone will feel comfortable in the driver's seat, which lacks thigh support, but gauges are large and clear. Visibility in the convertible is superior to the front and side, but the rear view is obstructed by the spare tire and center high-mounted stop lamp. The soft-top's back seat is small and hard--more like a platform. Storage space is scant, beyond a sizable glovebox

Snappy performance and a friendly personality make the open-top Sidekick a joy to drive, while more conservative shoppers might feel more comfortable with a four-door. Either way, the Sidekick is lots of fun so long as interior space for passengers and cargo is not a big priority.

1996 Highlights

Lots of changes to this mini SUV: the 16-valve, 95-horsepower engine is available across the board (except in the Sport), and dual airbags are housed in a revised instrument panel. New fabrics, colors and styling revisions update the Sidekick. All new for 1996 is a Sport variant, equipped with lots of exclusive standard equipment, a 120-horsepower twin-cam motor, a wider track, two-tone paint and a chrome grille.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Suzuki Sidekick.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.63 out of 5 stars
Best fit my needs.
Sport JLX 4dr SUV 4WD
I wanted a vehicle that was 4wd, got reasonable fuel ecomomy, could tow behind motor home, ample power, reliable, hunt in, drive across the USA w/o being beat to death, had plenty of headroom. This fit the bill. I have replaced the clutch, front wheel bearings, fan cooling clutch, reworked brakes, and replaced ignition coils. At 144000 mi. and 12 yrs. going strong!
4.25 out of 5 stars
Sidekick Sport
Sport JX 4dr SUV 4WD
Its a great vehicle and very reliable. Only problem was 2 wheel bearings at 70,000, when I bought it. The ride is pretty good, but some road noise. Amazing gas milage-24-26 in 4x4. 25-27 in 2 wheel drive!! The sport edition comes with a 1.8L 4 cylinder. That to is somewhat underpowered.
3.75 out of 5 stars
I love my Suzuki
JX 2dr SUV 4WD w/Soft Top
I bought this vehicle used with about 30,000 miles and I love it The only items that have really given me trouble was a tie rod end and 1 hub and that was at 100,000 miles other then that I have done nothing except a tune up and brakes on this vehicle.
3.75 out of 5 stars
I love my Suzuki
JX 2dr SUV 4WD w/Soft Top
I bought this vehicle used with about 30,000 miles and I love it The only items that have really given me trouble was a tie rod end and 1 hub and that was at 100,000 miles other then that I have done nothing except a tune up and brakes on this vehicle.


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 1996 Suzuki Sidekick

Used 1996 Suzuki Sidekick Overview

The Used 1996 Suzuki Sidekick is offered in the following submodels: Sidekick SUV. Available styles include JS 4dr SUV, JX 4dr SUV 4WD, JX 2dr SUV 4WD w/Soft Top, Sport JX 4dr SUV 4WD, JS 2dr SUV w/Soft Top, and Sport JLX 4dr SUV 4WD. Pre-owned Suzuki Sidekick models are available with a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 95 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Suzuki Sidekick comes with rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Suzuki Sidekick?

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Which used 1996 Suzuki Sidekicks are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1996 Suzuki Sidekicks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Suzuki Sidekick for sale - 12 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $12,958.

Find a used Suzuki for sale - 11 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $8,022.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki Sidekick for sale - 9 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $9,520.

Find a used certified pre-owned Suzuki for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $18,349.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 Suzuki Sidekick?

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 Sidekick lease specials