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1996 Suzuki Sidekick

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1996 Suzuki Sidekick Review

Compact fun with toothy grille.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick is an off-road vehicle manufactured by the Japanese automaker. It was introduced as the Escudo in the Japanese domestic market but was only launched in the North American market from the following year onward as the Sidekick. The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick was launched in the U.S. in a hardtop and convertible body style.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder, 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: three-speed automatic, four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Suzuki Sidekick JS w/Soft Top, Suzuki Sidekick JS, Suzuki Sidekick JX w/Soft Top, Suzuki Sidekick JX, Suzuki Sidekick Sport JX, Suzuki Sidekick Sport JLX

What's New

The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick comes with a number of changes and updates this year. The 1.6-liter engine is available in all models except for a new variant called the Sport. It also has wider tracks, a chrome grille, and two-tone paint.

The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick comes with a new instrument panel with dual airbags housed inside. Moreover, it also gets some styling revisions along with new exterior colors and seat fabrics.


The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick gets new bumpers, colors, and a front grille. Overall, it looks a lot better than the previous models. The two-tone paint and chrome grille, however, gives it somewhat of an awkward look. While the ultimate choice is based on personal preference, the simple and monochromatic look of the base model seems like the better-looking version from the outside.


The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick has lots of space to offer up front, offering plenty of headroom and legroom. However, the rear bench only has enough legroom, headroom, and shoulder width for two people. Moreover, the seats are too hard for comfort, and legroom pretty much disappears when the front seats are pushed all the way back. The narrow cabin results in the doors being too close to the seats, creating a scarcity of shoulder room as well. The cargo space is not remarkable, but it is adequate thanks to the swing-open rear door and the foldable seat at the rear.

Performance & Handling

The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick is available with a 1.6-liter straight-four engine that delivers 80 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque. All models have a five-speed manual transmission as standard. Two-door models get a three-speed automatic transmission as an option, while the four-door models get a four-speed automatic transmission. It has a 1.8-liter straight-four engine that delivers 160 horsepower.

The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick may be equipped with a 1.6-liter engine that offers a noteworthy performance, but the 1.8-liter engine in the Sport models is far more powerful. The latter works best with the four-speed automatic transmission. Both engines tend to growl rather loudly when throttled, and wind and road noise is also noticeable when it's being driven at highway speeds.


The 1996 Suzuki Sidekick got rather poor scores during frontal impact tests conducted by the NHTSA. It got two stars for driver safety and three stars for passenger safety out of a possible five stars.

EPA Fuel Economy

Suzuki Sidekick: 21/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good four-wheel drive traction
  • Maneuverable
  • Good fuel economy

You Won't Like

  • Poor ride quality
  • Noisy cabin
  • Lack of room at the rear

Sum Up

Compact fun with toothy grille.

If You Like This Vehicle

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