The introduction of the Samurai made Suzuki a name for itself and has established itself as a serious contender in the 4X4 market. Rumors of a more upscale 4X4 have been doing the rounds and in 1989 everyone's suspicions became true. Suzuki released the Sidekick and many were impressed by its capabilities and design. The Sidekick is a 3-door hard or soft top compact SUV that was a 4 wheel-drive. A two wheel-drive companion came in the year after. Neither a car nor a truck per se, the Sidekick was aimed to the teenagers or twenty something market, though many older generation has fallen in love with its versatility and the fun factor it proudly carries.
At the first run, the Sidekick was armed with a 1.3 engine, but no sooner it was packed with a 1.6-liter engine that made 80 horsepower to boost its power. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, and a 3-speed automatic transmission was optional. The Sidekick soon became popular, spearheading a segment which was soon joined by Honda's CRV and Toyota's Rav 4. The Suzuki Sidekick roster included the base JS, offered only as a soft-top convertible with 2WD and the more upscale JX and JLX editions.
Barely two years after its release, Suzuki unveiled a longer wheelbase 5-door hardtop Sidekick to further expand its territory. It was offered in the base JX trim and the more luxurious JLX model. To carry the additional weight the new Sidekick was given a 95 horsepower, 16-valve multi-port fuel injected version of the previous 1600 engine used. In 1996 Suzuki dropped the Samurai lineup and added a new Sidekick to fill in the gap. The Suzuki Sidekick Sport was now born. The Sidekick Sport was a definite go-getter, sporting larger wheels, a bigger stance, a longer fascia and fender flares the name tag Sport was really appropriate. Suzuki provided it with a 1.8-liter, 120 horsepower DOHC inline-4 engine while the other Sidekicks still had the previous 1.6 engine. The Sidekick Sport was offered in two trims, the JX and the JLX, a two-wheel and a four-wheel drive vehicle in its respective order.
The Sidekick had made a successful U.S. run early in the 90's, many units were sold but by late 90's dwindling interest forced Suzuki to drop the Sidekick lineup. No significant changes were made after the introduction of the Sidekick Sport and plans were already being drawn up for a new vehicle. By 1998 the production of the Sidekicks was its last and many were anticipating of the new Suzuki. The Grand Vitara was the replacement and it made an even bigger splash than its predecessors.