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Suzuki For 1999

By Carey Russ

Suzuki has long been known for small sport-utility vehicles. Its SUV line has been completely remade for 1999, and the name changed from Sidekick to Vitara. Both two-door and four-door Vitaras offer more refinement than the old Sidekick, while the Grand Vitara is the first small SUV with V6 power.

Suzuki has other small, economical niches to fill as well, offering the Esteem subcompact sedan and wagon and Swift hatchback.

Vitara and Grand Vitara

Say "goodbye" to the Sidekick and "hello" to the Vitara. Since Suzuki's sport-utility was redesigned from the ground up, there was little point to keeping the name. Two distinct levels are offered, the Vitara and Grand Vitara.

The Vitara comes in two-door and four-door body styles. The four-door is available with two- or four-wheel drive, and is powered by an all-new 2.0-liter, 127-hp twin-cam four-cylinder engine. The two- door Vitara is a fun-in-the-sun soft-top design, with a standard 1.6- liter, 97-hp four-cylinder engine. The two-liter engine is optional. Both 2WD and 4WD drive trains are available on either model.

The four-door Grand Vitara promises to be the new benchmark in the small SUV class, with a 155-hp 24-valve, twin-cam 2.5-liter V6 engine. Both 2WD and 4WD power trains are available. Standard equipment on the Grand Vitara includes a micron-filtration air- conditioning system, power windows, mirrors, and door locks, and remote keyless entry. Why should small be less than luxurious?


The Esteem sedan and wagon are at the larger end of the subcompact class in size. Both have freshened styling for 1999, with new fenders, grille, and headlights. Both are offered in three trim levels, all powered by a 1.6-liter, 95-hp four-cylinder engine. A more powerful 1.8-liter engine will be available early in 1999.


The Swift hatchback is one of the least-expensive and most fuel-efficient cars available today. It is little changed for 1999.

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