Test drive results: '91 Suzuki Sidekick JLX

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1991

RAY: I just drove a car that really surprised me.

TOM: What happened? You got it from me and the gas tank wasn't empty?

RAY: No. It's a car that I wasn't expecting to like at all, and I ended up liking it very much. It's the four door Suzuki Sidekick JLX, which is one of those nutty little four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles.

TOM: Oh, you mean the ones that have that warning on the sun visor that says "This is not really a car. If you try to drive it like a car, you're done for!"

RAY: Something like that. But I'll tell you, the Sidekick was really a lot of fun. Suzuki got a lot of bad press for the Samurai, which was reportedly prone to tip over--albeit only when you made left or right hand turns--but the Sidekick is a completely different vehicle. It's longer and wider, and surprisingly stable.

TOM: C'mon. Everyone knows these things are easy to tip over. I took a sharp turn in it, and I nearly had to change my pants when it was over.

RAY: Yeah, but you get scared reading National Geographic. Look, I'd heard all that stuff about roll overs, so I actually tried to turn this vehicle over (I'm sure Suzuki is going to be thrilled to read about this). But I have to report that as hard as I tried, I was unable to make the car flip--the back end would simply slide out.

TOM: Wait a minute. You actually went out and actually TRIED to flip over??

RAY: Yeah. Well, I tried to do it on left turns. I figured that way, if I flipped, at least there'd be the entire passenger side between me and the pavement.

TOM: I've always said that the people who buy cars like these are on the lunatic fringe, and you have proven my point.

RAY: That may be. But I can see now why someone would buy a car like this. It was really fun to drive around town. Every time I got into it, I felt like I was going on safari or something. My wife kept making fun of me for driving around with khaki shorts, a pith helmet, and a pair binoculars around my neck. But I felt like Marlon Perkins on Wild Kingdom in that thing.

TOM: Alright, I can see where this vehicle would be novel, but what about your kidneys? I mean, didn't it bounce all over the road?

RAY: Sure, but that was part of the fun. Look, it's not a car I want to put 2.3 kids in and drive for six hours to Aunt Lucille's; but for less than 13,000 bucks--completely loaded--the Sidekick is really a ton and a half of fun.

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