Overview & Reviews
Originally designed as a city car for Japanese and European markets, the subcompact Suzuki Swift occupied the bargain end of the economy car class during its 13-year run in the U.S. Although Suzuki sold a sedan version for a few years, most consumers will remember the more popular Swift hatchback offered continuously from 1989-2001.
With a price tag well under $10,000 and fuel economy ratings around 40 mpg, the Suzuki Swift was a brutally practical option for buyers needing basic transportation. Its very small size and 16-foot turning radius made it a cinch to maneuver in tight spaces. And to its credit, the Swift provided adequate acceleration, at least when equipped with a manual transmission.
In most other respects, though, the Swift wasn't well suited to American driving habits. A noisy highway ride, low handling limits and a total lack of amenities, including power steering, were its main faults. And with a curb weight under 1 ton, the odds were rarely in the Suzuki's favor in the event of a collision. Mechanical reliability proved to be a strong point, but the Swift's low-end interior bits and body panels weren't especially durable.
Due to high depreciation, Suzuki Swifts can be extremely inexpensive to buy on the used market. Unless you're in dire need of an urban runabout at a rock-bottom price, though, you'd be wise to look at a larger, more refined, better-equipped car from one of the major Japanese or Korean automakers.
Most Recent Suzuki Swift
Suzuki sold the Swift subcompact in two generations, the more recent of these stretching from 1995-2001. This Swift was offered only as a hatchback, motivated by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 70 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. In 1998, Suzuki swapped in a 16-valve version of this engine, resulting in 9 extra hp (for 79 total) and a smidge more torque.
A standard five-speed manual transmission drove the front wheels, and a three-speed automatic was available as an option. The latter was best avoided, as it compromised the small hatchback's stamina and significantly reduced gas mileage.
For most of the model cycle, the Suzuki Swift came in a single base trim level. Standard equipment included skinny 13-inch tires, daytime running lights, dual front airbags, cloth upholstery and three-point seatbelts for all outboard occupants (with a lap belt only in the rear center position).
ABS was the lone factory option, but Suzuki discontinued it after the '98 model year. Air-conditioning and a stereo could be added as dealer accessories. In 2000 and 2001, Suzuki created GA and GL trim levels. The GA was equipped like the base Swift of previous years, while the GL had the A/C and cassette deck as standard.
Past Suzuki Swift Models
The earlier generation of the Suzuki Swift was sold from 1989-'94. Equipment was similar to that of later Swifts, but in addition to offering a sedan body style from 1990-'94, Suzuki created a junior econosport called the Swift GT (GTi in '89 only).
The GT hatchback had a higher-compression, twincam version of the 1.3-liter engine that made 100 hp, along with larger 14-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, a rear spoiler and sport seats. It was still more of a warm hatch than a hot hatch, but compared to other Swifts, which had the 70-hp engine and wimpy 13s, the GT was reasonably fun to drive. A five-speed manual gearbox was the only transmission available on the Swift GT; other models could be equipped with an optional three-speed automatic.
For most of this generation, the Swift lineup consisted of a base GA hatchback and sedan, a better-equipped GS sedan and the sporty GT hatch. During the 1989 and '90 model years, Suzuki also offered midrange GL versions of both the hatchback and sedan, along with a GLX hatch that had some of the GT's cosmetic add-ons but not its upgraded engine and running gear.
In standard GA guise, the Swift offered very few features -- cloth upholstery was the only amenity of note. The GL models added tinted glass, power mirrors, intermittent wipers and a rear defroster. On top of those items, the GS sedan had an AM/FM stereo with a cassette deck. Air-conditioning was available as an accessory.
Following a mild refresh in 1992, the Swift GS added a center console, a tachometer and a clock. Curiously, GS sedans and GT hatchbacks from '92 and later also had power steering -- a convenience that didn't carry over to the subsequent generation.
One thing to keep in mind if you run across a Suzuki Swift from this era is the minimal safety content. There were no front airbags, and ABS was not an option.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 18.00
Suzuki Swift, not so Swift a deal - 2000 Suzuki Swift
By Stephen Hendricks - November 4 - 10:00 am
From the beginning there were problems with the Air Conditioning holding a charge. Last year with 27K miles the entire back seem of the muffler seperated. The printed warranty clearly covers the exhaust system. Yet Suzuki in Timonium Maryland wouldn't cover it and quoted a price of $1165.00 to replace it. Service is terrible. No Suzuki dealer EVER stocks parts. The mirror fell off last month (driver side). The Dealer won't schedule a repair and won't order the mirror. The car is going to be sent away as a wholesale trade in as a result. I'd never buy another Suzuki product of any kind again.
Great car to have - 2000 Suzuki Swift
By urinvestigator - April 27 - 11:47 pm
I bought this 2000 model Chevy Metro / Suzuki Swift with 1.3 L-4 Engine and 5 speed trans. It has been great for the past 10 years. I took it any where and it just keeps running without giving me any problem. Every week it costs me less than $30 gas (even with today's gas price). I only changed her tire, and brakes. That's all I have to do besides change oil every 3000 miles. I have put 158,0000 miles on and that car still gives me 43 MPG on highway and 36 MPG in city. I just love this car.
2000 Swift AVG MPG 38 - 2000 Suzuki Swift
By Paul B. - December 17 - 12:16 pm
I bought the car in 2007 when gas prices started going crazy to get out of my 16 mpg pickup. What a great improvement, 38 mpg plus when I don't have to haul anything large. I'm on the road alot, 18,695 last year with only one trip out of state and my annual maintenance costs below $200. Yes I perform my own maintenance and on this car it's a breeze. The car is easy to drive and maneuvers very well in today's tight parking lots. It gets up and goes for the little 1.3L, no problem accelerating on those freeway on ramps. I would recommend this car to anyone trying to save money on commuting and around town costs. Only one problem, everyone thinks they have to pass you because it a small car...
very happy so far - 2001 Suzuki Swift
By mdocod - December 7 - 12:26 am
just bought one of these used a few months ago, has a good rigid feeling build quality to it. with auto-tranny gets about 34-37mpg in town..my girl friend uses this mostly for trips to and from work/stores in and out of town a lot... I use it to delivery pizzas when she doesn't need it, being able to drive 200 miles in a day for a few bucks worth of gas is a real moneysaver. being able to buy this "new" of a vehicle for only $2500 and then getting great milage to boot, can't complain. No mechanical problems to mention. can change oil on this car without jacking it up- the clearance is good for a car- wheels are at corners- so never a problem with speed bumps, no bottoming out.
Peepy, Great mpg, and easy to repair - 2001 Suzuki Swift
By Randall M. - December 3 - 8:56 am
My Swift sat on the lot over a year until I found it. I just wanted a commuter car with great mileage yet had alittle style. True, most Swifts are driven by senior citizens because of their ease to drive, mine came with a 5 spd and just air conditioning. I figured, it had everything I needed but nothing that I didn't need. Immediately, I used nothing but synthetic oil and put in Bosch platinum 4 plugs. At just 1895 lbs, my Swift is peppy!. Changing brakes and the air filter is a snap!. I consistently get 37mpg on mostly city traffic!. Yet, understand that the interior is generic and the brakes are soft at best. At 50000 miles the interior light and lower fan speeds failed. Still, I Love it.
Unexpectedly Pleased - 2000 Suzuki Swift
By Moe's Mom - April 19 - 1:00 pm
We bought this little car as a commuter for our teenager who had just gotten his first job. It was low cost, got good gas mileage, and had a primered front fender. He's driven it for 3 years. We've put new tires on it, had the brakes done, and bought a new battery for it. That's all. It's been very reliable. Just for the record, the Metro and Swift are the same car. Chevy just put their name badge on the Metro after Suzuki built them. I'd recommend either model for someone on a budget needing a 35 mpg commuter.
Awesome Gas mileage! but.... - 2000 Suzuki Swift
By Josh (Cless Alvein) - April 14 - 10:00 am
I must say that suzuki swift and chevy metro are possibly the greatest cars below 10K and its gas mileage is superior. however i must say....who's better, and i want a response from anyone out there.... who's better? a) Suzuki Swift b) Chevy Metro anyhow, an only hint is: imports last longer...ppl should buy these kinds of cars, there polluting the air
swift - 2001 Suzuki Swift
By pforstie - January 24 - 10:00 am
fun to drive to and from work every day
GREAT CAR AT A GREAT PRICE - 2001 Suzuki Swift
By Billy - August 7 - 10:00 am
I just love this little car...
To the Swift! - 2001 Suzuki Swift
By collegeguy - October 11 - 10:00 am
Bought this for college @ 60k it's at 110k now over the course of 1.5 years. I love things and hate things about it. Manual everything is my style and cassette player is great for cheap mp3/i pod playing. Has no ponies but once up to speed is fine, however the automatic gets terrible mpg (25 highway ~33-35 town) at higher speeds. Snow tires/cruise control/remote starter/new speakers are all great upgrades. All replacement parts are cheap for these puppies. Be prepared for the "Suzuki Squeal" i.e. the fan belt squeals loudly since the design has no tensioner. I'm currently trying to ghetto rig a fix for this. I'm also having AC problems but just use recharging kits from Wal-Mart to fix