GM started selling Americans the Suzuki Cultus with Chevrolet Sprint badging in model year 1985, with the following Cultus generation become a geo (and a little later Chevrolet) metro. Suzuki started Sale of the Cultus as Swift here from 1990, then the platform of this car was expanded to create something the greater Cultus Crescent five years later. This car first appeared in American Suzuki showrooms as the Esteem in 1995, and in 1998 a station wagon version was released. Most long-top Esteem models were long gone from our streets, but I was able to find this High Mile 2000 model in a Northern California junkyard.
The Esteem was available in the United States until 2002, after which it was replaced by the aero. With station wagons increasingly falling out of favor with American car buyers by this time, the Aerio was not available as a station wagon; Suzuki buyers here, who insisted on a small cargo van in 2003, had to either upgrade to the larger Forenza station wagon or join the SUV trend and get a Vitara.
It was all in the future when this car was first sold, although. It’s a base GL 1.8 model with no options that I can find and the MSRP was $13,399. That’s about $23,959 in 2023.
The 2000–2002 Esteem station wagon was forced to compete for sales with the larger and more powerful models Daewoo Nubira station wagon, whose price was ominously similar ($14,160 in 2000, or $25,320 after inflation). Hyundai was there the last year a station wagon version of the Elantra was sold here in 2000, and its price was just $12,499 ($22,350 today). Ford asked for $15,380 his cheapest 2000 Focus station wagon (now $27,501) while Saturn offered the SW2 car for $14,290 ($25,552 in 2023).
What all these affordable small cars had in common was that they had a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, and that’s exactly what this car has. A four-speed automatic added $1,000 to the price of a new 2000 Esteem ($1,788 today).
This car featured a DOHC 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 122 horsepower and 117 pound-feet. Not exciting by 21st-century standards, but enough to keep the drudgery at bay in a 2,359-pound station wagon.
The owner or owners of this car have taken good care of it and it has been rewarded for driving 237,255 miles in the 23 years it has been on the road.
The interior still looks good, which is typical High mile cars I find in these places. A car owner who keeps the upholstery in good condition also tends to do all maintenance on time.
The keys are still in the ignition, suggesting that this car may have been a swap vehicle that could not be sold at auction due to its high mileage. long-defunct brand and transmission that most Americans can’t handle.
“So far I haven’t had any problems, except for the ticket I got yesterday.”
As almost always, the JDM TV commercials are more fun.
The Cultus Crescent was sold all over the world. In Venezuela it was the Chevrolet Esteem.