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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Except for an inside trunk-release handle and 14-inch aluminum wheels for selected models, little is new for 2002 on Suzukis front-drive subcompact sedan and wagon. The Esteem is the companys only remaining passenger car now that the tiny Swift has been dropped. The Esteem is still offered in three trim levels GL, GLX and GLX+ and it has outsold the smaller, now departed Swift by a 5-1 margin.
Exterior Conventional in small-car appearance and featuring angled multireflector headlights, the Esteem has a 97.6-inch wheelbase. Its overall length is 166.3 inches about 8 inches shorter than the Honda Civic sedan and 6 inches shorter than the Esteem wagon. Standing 53.9 inches tall, the wagon is 66.1 inches wide. An available Sport Package for the GLX includes a rear spoiler, fog lamps and chrome-tipped exhaust outlets.
Interior The Esteem sedan seats five occupants, with two front buckets and a folding rear seat. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a CD player and a rear-window defogger. The GLX adds power windows, locks and mirrors. All Esteem models have a Clarion stereo system with an in-dash CD player. The top-of-the-line GLX+ adds a cassette player to the CD unit. Passenger volume totals 85.9 cubic feet, and trunk capacity measures 12.1 cubic feet.
Under the Hood The Esteems 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine develops 122 horsepower and teams with either a standard five-speed-manual or optional four-speed-automatic transmission. The automatic gearbox is standard on the GLX+ sedan.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard on the GLX+ sedan but are unavailable on other models. Side-impact airbags are not available.
Driving Impressions In refinement and overall assembly quality, the Esteem lags behind the better-known competition. Performance and handling are passable, and the price might be right. But there are better choices out in the marketplace that dont cost much more than the Esteem.