1996 Suzuki Esteem

  • 1996 Suzuki Esteem GL Sedan

    GL Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.6L I4
    • MSRP
  • 1996 Suzuki Esteem GLX Sedan

    GLX Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.6L I4
    • MSRP
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1996 Suzuki Esteem Review

An efficient compact ride.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1996 Suzuki Esteem is a compact car that was introduced as the Cultus Crescent in Japan in 1995. It was basically a larger version of the Cultus, which was sold as the Swift in North America. As a result, it shares a lot of its parts with its predecessor. It was actually launched in North America as a replacement for the Swift sedan and built using a stretched Cultus platform.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Suzuki Esteem GL, Suzuki Esteem GLX

What's New

The 1996 Suzuki Esteem gets new daytime running lights, and the GL model in particular gets body-colored bumpers instead of the black ones that were used in the previous model year. All models have air-conditioning as a standard feature. The GLX gets anti-lock brakes as a standard, but strangely, the GL does not even get it as an optional feature.


The 1996 Suzuki Esteem shares a lot of aspects with the tiny Swift including some of its exterior qualities. It looks appealing with most of its front fascia looking almost like that of its predecessor. It has classic Japanese styling cues, and this can either be a good or bad thing depending on a customer’s preferences. It comes with a wheelbase of 97.6 inches and an overall length of around 172 inches, and a width of 66.7 inches and height of 54.9 inches.


The 1996 Suzuki Esteem offers ample headroom and legroom up front. The rear seats have adequate headroom and legroom for relatively short people to sit comfortably, but occupants of an average or above average stature may find it too cramped.

Moreover, the 1996 Suzuki Esteem provides hard padding on the rear seat, and the narrow rear doors make entry and exit problematic as well. The trunk has a surprising amount of space with a flat floor, but the small opening limits its utility. The controls on the dash are easy to understand and reach. Visibility up front is good, too, but it's impeded at the rear by the wide roof pillars. Moreover, the narrow rear window makes it difficult for the driver to see the trunk.

Performance & Handling

The 1996 Suzuki Esteem has a 1.6-liter straight-four engine that delivers 98 horsepower and 99 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission as a standard, but a four-speed automatic transmission is available as an option. The 1.6-liter engine is sorely underpowered; as a result, it's more or less unable to move in fast traffic and is best used for driving within town limits.

The 1996 Suzuki Esteem has poor ride quality. The short wheelbase makes the car rather unstable, and it tends pitch a lot on concrete expressways. The suspension is not too good either and is bouncy when it's on tricky roads. On a positive note, it is quite maneuverable, and the brakes perform well, although the ABS brakes in the GLX are definitely better since it doesn't cause any rear-wheel lockup.


The 1996 Suzuki Esteem doesn't have any crash test data available.

EPA Fuel Economy

Suzuki Esteem: 27/33 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good fuel economy
  • Maneuverable
  • Lots of cargo room

You Won't Like

  • Poor rear visibility
  • Bad ride quality
  • Noisy cabin

Sum Up

An efficient compact ride.

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