1997 Suzuki Sidekick Review

Pros & Cons

  • Cute, cuddly, and surprisingly capable mini-ute is great for around-town cruising or a jaunt to the lake.
  • Underpowered engines make the Sidekick breathe hard when climbing hills.
Other years
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List Price Estimate
$695 - $1,477

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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. Toyota introduced the RAV4 to do battle with the Sidekick, and Honda is rushing to bring their CRV over from Japan to do the same. Suzuki aims the Sidekick squarely at teens and twenty-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, JS 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.

Four-wheel anti-lock 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.

Frankly, we think that the base Sidekick is the best 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.

1997 Highlights

A JS Sport 2WD model is added to the Sidekick lineup. It has a DOHC engine that makes 120 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. There are no changes to the rest of the Sidekick line.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Suzuki Sidekick.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The little engine that could but Suzuki version
This car has been hit in the front and the rear and is still on the road. She has 189,561 miles and she still running like new. We have replaced few minor parts, fuel filter, a fan belt and she still continues to run. She just won't die, she refuses to die. Great gas mileage. 4x4 works excellent and she sure can haul wood. I HAVE thought of replacing her but can't bare to part with her because we know we won't find a better car. She may look like a death trap coming down the road but she sure does run excellent. Never has left us stranded and I doubt she ever will.
I love my Sidekick!
I bought my Sidekick used - it had been a rental car. I have never had any problems with it, and the only maintenance I've ever done has been oil changes. It has never let me down, and I really enjoy driving it.
sidekicks are great
I bought my sidekick some time ago now, i use a lot, has 104k miles on it and has behaved like a champ, i havn't had any problems with it, only reg mantainance(oil, fluids,breaks...) Fuel economy is great, love the big windows and the stylish looks. Its not a very fast car, but hey, thats not what your paying for and it wasnt desinged for high performance.
The Rattletrap That Won't Die
They're gonna have to bury me in this car. I bought it in about 2001 with 60k miles on it for 5k dollars cash. At 90k I changed the timing belt and water pump. Since then I have replaced only a starter, had the brakes done once and just recently replaced the front struts and back shocks. This little beast is NO fun over 55mph. Feels like it's gonna fly into bits. Uphill forget it, unless you're rock crawling. But I can get 3 full sized dairy goats in the back with the seat down and don't have to use my gas hog pickup. It refuses to quit. Most reliable car I've ever owned outside of Hondas. Flawless OD automatic. Swiss watch of a motor. Backbreaker seats. A keeper!

Features & Specs

See all Used 1997 Suzuki Sidekick features & specs


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 Sidekick

Used 1997 Suzuki Sidekick Overview

The Used 1997 Suzuki Sidekick is offered in the following submodels: Sidekick SUV. Available styles include Sport JX 4dr SUV 4WD, JS 2dr SUV w/Soft Top, Sport JLX 4dr SUV 4WD, Sport JS 4dr SUV, JS 4dr SUV, JX 2dr SUV 4WD w/Soft Top, and JX 4dr SUV 4WD.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 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