By on March 29, 2013

Not many cars appear and disappear while leaving as little trace as did the Suzuki Aerio, which was sold in the United States for the 2002-2007 model years. Normally, I ignore such new cars when I’m wandering around the wrecking yards of Denver, but I’ll break out the camera when I find something of historical significance— for example, an example of the final year of the GM J-body’s 24-year run— or when I see a car that doesn’t seem to exist on the street any more. This Aerio is such a car.
The car used for the first seven years of Top Gear UK’s “Star In a Reasonably Priced Car” series was a 2002 Suzuki Aerio (called the Liana, which was supposedly an acronym for “Life In A New Age,” in Europe). This is the only Aerio most of us have ever seen.
American car shoppers ran out of reasons to buy Suzuki cars, though Chinese buyers can still get a new Liana.
Will anyone pull any pieces off this car before it gets eaten by The Crusher? Probably not.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2004 Suzuki Aerio...”


  • avatar

    A good article, seeing that this Manufacturer is also quitting Canada after this year, leaving many owners in the dumps!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yup, as far as I know, only Mexico and on southward will get Suzukis from now on in the Americas.

      Japan Daily Press:
      http://japandailypress.com/suzuki-calls-it-quits-after-30-years-in-canada-car-market-2725881

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I liked the little 5 door wagonish version they had

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Agreed. The sedan looked horrible, like a slight breeze would tip it over, but the 5-door was ok. The rear end also looked a lot like the Subaru Forester of the day:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Suzuki_Liana_Rear.jpg

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    Those seats look like they would be nice for a project car, aircooled beetle, Fiat 124, MG etc. Decent neutral color upholstery, nice size, fully manual.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I see these things reasonably often here in New Jersey. I’m surprised this one is already at the u-pull-it lot. I wonder what happened that it met it’s demise so soon….

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      It doesn’t surprise me a bit that Aerios are headed for the wrecking yards.

      The Aerio didn’t sell in abundant numbers, the vehicles are about 10 years old, have racked up over 100k – and – are unfamiliar vehicle to most shops. 2nd and 3rd owners buy them cheap. Then run them into the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Aerios are worth so little and parts are so scarce that insurance companies probably declare them totaled on default, for even the most superficial damage…

  • avatar
    cargogh

    HAL must have taken over the digital dash.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I bought a brand new blue 04 SX wagon with a manual trans. It was a great car in terms of size, huge back seat and lots of room in the back. It would have made a good family car actually, but I had just graduated college and mostly transported my mtn bike in it. The gas mileage wasnt bad but I think it was tuned too lean by the factory and it liked to ping in warmer weather. Higher octane solved that issue. Oh and it also had piston slap during colder weather. I remember running M1 really made it noisy.

    What really made the car suck though besides all that other stuff, was the brakes and suspension. It handled like crap, and didnt stop well. I eneded up rear ending someone and it got totalled. Didnt buy another.

    The most fun thing about the car was setting the digital dash to km/h on the highway and waiting for somone to notice we were going 120. Scared a few girls that way.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      My gsx-r 600 (05) has an option to have the dash in km as well…..fun times.

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        The more I think back about this car, I remember that I was cross shopping the then new Scion Xb. I remember the Scion being 2k more expensive and it only had a 1.6 making 106HP whereas the Aerio had a 2.0 making 155HP. I regret not buying the box, I’d probably still own it.

        • 0 avatar
          MZ3AUTOXR

          These were on my radar when I was looking for a car. 155 HP and about 2600# curb weight if i remember correctly. Just too tall, and since I was looking for a car to autocross, it left the radar pretty quickly.

        • 0 avatar
          Crabspirits

          When I bought my xB, a few people got angry, and said I should have bought one of these instead of that stupid boxy thing.

          No regrets.

          There’s always usually one sitting out in front of the Chicago Pick N Pull in the “fixer-upper” lot. Usually, they have some sort of mechanical engine trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          Kokotheclown

          The 2.0 produced 145 HP. Starting 2004 they put in a 2.3 that produced 155 HP. Just a 2.0 with bigger bore.

    • 0 avatar
      dima

      I bought a brand new silver 06 SX premium wagon AWD fully loaded for $16,000. Drove it till clock hit 120,000 miles and sold it. Newer had to spend a penny on it except consumables items, and two sets of tires. Was great on snow and rain. Gas mileage was not too great. This car was ahead of its time. First generation of Fit/Jazz looks like its tween. I guess suzuki badge was too much for general public to swallow. I liked that car.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    A riveted on dealer badge? This guy should have gone back to the dealer and demanded a new trunk lid. But it looks like he decided it was not worth it and just scrapped the car instead.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      Yeah, I noticed that, too. I can’t believe dealers were still doing that in 2004.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I can’t believe dealers were(are?) still doing that in 2004. I make it clear to the salesperson that if I find a badge or sticker with the dealers name on it during delivery, I walk. License plate frames are fine, I’ll leave it on a few months, but then it’s gone.

      I liked the wagon version of these, but the awful interior and generally spotty nature of every Suzuki vehicle I’ve ever seen made the love stop there. Of course, those factors didn’t stop me from buying a Mitsubishi for some reason. Which turned out to be one of the best cars I’ve had so far.

      Of course, just like the other failed son of the Rising Sun (Mitsubishi)in the US, Suzuki are usually damn near free and sold to credit risk people. Of course, my brother in law bought a new Kizashi when they were still selling for near sticker soon after release. It’s generally a nice car though, but I fear what will happen as it ages. And that it has basically no resale value now, they’ll be in for shock when they trade it. Tried to warn them..

      I like the remnants of the piece of tape that was trying to hold the paint bubble on.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      I wonder if it was originally a dealer loaner/courtesy car. That might explain why a nine year old car with relatively little damage is already in the junk yard; possibly had a hard life early on and something expensive has died an untimely death.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Seems like having a Suzuki franchise may have been karma.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Likewise, is two-sided tape forbidden in Denver? I guess they don’t use salt on the roads(Murilee, help me with WHY the rivets.) I can only come up with a dealer with so large an ego that he doesn’t want any buyer removing one of his taped-on dealer dog tags with dental floss.

      I know this sounds snobbish, but I always considered cars like the Aerio and Yugo as the Bic lighters of the auto market, very disposible.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Evidently, Shortline is still in business as a Hyundai, Kia & Subaru dealer. Wonder if they still drill on their badges like that?

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I remember when I’d see these things on the road from time to time. I’m not sure why, but I was oddly attracted to the 5 door wagon/ hatch version. I always had half an eye out for one for sale, with a manual, but never quite found one I wanted. Probably just as well, judging from others’ experiences with them, I doubt I’d have enjoyed owning one as much as I enjoyed the _thought_ of owning one.

    Now that they’re about to be orphans, I smell some serious bargains to be had. A LeMons Aerio, anyone?

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Is this just a sedan version of the Swift or a larger, different platform?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Different vehicle. The tallish wagon/hatch was the original body style. The sedan shown here was an ungainly afterthought to appease a market thought to not want hatchbacks. The digital dash only lasted a year or two before it was replaced with normal gauges.

      Friend of mine is about to scrap a 2003-ish Aerio because of too many expensive repairs needed. It is a completely unremarkable car with its only redeeming factor being decent interior space for its size because of the high roofline.

  • avatar
    lon888

    There’s a red one (excellent shape actually) in my work parking lot right now. But also there is a Vega (first genration!), Toyota Starlet and a last generation Fiero.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      An Aerio,a Vega, a Starlet, and Fiero? I’d look on the parking spaces, and see if they’re not reserved for Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        HAHA… nice try, but we all know Sheldon doesn’t drive, Howard has a scooter and Leonard has a Volvo in some episodes. Can’t remember Raj having a car (?). When Howard finally gets rid of his scooter he gets a Mini.

        • 0 avatar
          chicagoland

          Leonard has a SAAB, it got stolen this season when thye were dressed as Star Trek characters.

          Penny has a VW Cabrio, and the constant CEL is believable for that car.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    All I remember about these cars is that both the sedan AND wagon versions were the cheapest vehicles on the new car market to have optional AWD.

    I frequently contemplated an AWD wagon with a 5 speed manual. Less than a $15,000 purchase!

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Denise was a quick learner.

    Denise was tired. It had been a long day cleaning floors at the medical center. She listened to Sy Smith for the 1008th time, since it was permanently jammed in the CD player. Hopefully, she would get home before her show started. She banged her hand on the clock, prompting it for illumination. It flickered briefly, displaying 9:35 before she was about to abandon the attempt to fish the Iphone from her purse. Plenty of time. D ground her brakes into her parking spot outside her apartment in Five Points. “Hmmmm, got to get that fixed someday.” The thunderstorm was now upon her. Just as she reached the door, the showers began.

    She awoke early the following day. The kids were being rather loud in the street. The sound of a bouncing basketball reverberated in her studio as if it was right outside the window. It was 7:30 in the morning, and Denise was not happy. The obvious sound of an errant b-ball bouncing off the boot of the Aerio sent her over the edge. Her once new car wore the battle scars of street life. Bumpers were smashed by uncaring parallel-parkers. The hubcaps disappeared in short order thanks to the work of local addicts. But the worst damage was caused by the kids. There was a well equipped park 500ft away, but the Suzuki and it’s companions in the street were much more fun to play on and around. Being responsible for your children was passe in this hood. She flung open the window, and yelled down “What I tell you?!”. The children grabbed their ball and looked up at the 2nd story window in much the same fashion as a puzzled golden retriever would. A muffled voice from an unseen person on the front hangout stoop responded “Somebody trippin.”

    Denise donned her green medical garb and hopped into her economy sled. There was condensation on the windshield’s interior glass, and the familiar mildew scent had returned. She cranked the Suzuki repeatedly, but there was no sign of life. “Oh HELL no.” Battery now completely depleted from desperation, she gave up. The flatbed arrived in short order to return the Suzuki from whence it came. Denise walked to the bus stop. She was surprised how easy it was to use public transportation to get to work as she browsed with her Iphone.

    Denise was unfazed as she mopped up some bodily fluids and gore. Her phone rang, and she was instantly perturbed, as she shed one of her vinyl gloves to answer it. It was Shortline’s service department notifying her of the death of her ECU. There was also the matter of the check engine light due to a dead catalytic converter, O2 sensor, along with non-existent brake linings. “That oxygen thing was supposed to be covered under warranty last time I brought it in!”, she balked at the service agent. There was nothing but silence in response. After a short, heated exchange over the $3000 estimate, Denise hung up. She briefly pondered what to do with the car. Opting out of the brake job would still leave her with a $2400 bill. Not an option. Her mind wandered to her favorite dance show, and she put on another glove.

    In the months that followed, D thought little of the car. She had embraced public transport. The Suzuki was paid off. She didn’t dwell on the money spent on the car. Signing for the shiny new pod at $13,000 was a distant memory. It wasn’t an investment to her, just the cost of having a car. It’s what people did, and now it was over.

    Denise reviewed her latest voicemail.
    “Hello. Denise, this is Dave at Shortline calling. This is regarding your black Aerio…this is your final notice as(CLICK)”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Would Denise happen to also be Matthew’s girlfriend?

      Also, you’re writing is very vivid, please keep it up.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      A great fictional microcosm of how most people really, really hate their cars. They just want it to start and move when they WANT TO GO SOMEWHERE, and most people really aren’t interested in maintaining their machine or even thinking about it, as long as it starts and moves when they WANT TO GO SOMEWHERE. Then when it doesn’t, they tend to throw an enormous fit of pique, ’cause after all, they just wanted to go somewhere.

      These are the same people that go to the polls and register their vote for President, but can’t be bothered to take care of the things in their own lives.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        And this is part of what kept Suzuki, Mitsubishi and others from selling here in Toyonda(and HyunKia) numbers.The spotty build quality of their cars,the bean counter engineering that nearly guarantees self destruction at 100k and a US market teeming with better options.

        Add to that the taking of high risk customers like Denise here. Denise Singlemom isn’t buying another Suzuki because she can’t. Not like Joe and Linda Middleclass, who keep returning to the Honda or Toyota showroom.

        Honda and Toyota may not be the same companies they were while building their reputations, but their engineering is more solid than Suzuki. Mr. and Mrs. Middleclass usually can afford to maintain their cars too, many times at the dealer. Decent engineering and care= 200k 92 Camry. Poor care and poor engineering= dead Aerio at 10 years and probably less than 120k.

        I saw a Mazda 323 today in Florida. Besides the cheap Chinese tires, it was in fair shape for a late 80′s economy car still alive in 2013. In the same lot, a 2005 Focus missing bumpers on both ends, the right side all smashed from the rockers on up. It’s all in the care.

        • 0 avatar
          Nasmir

          Not too sure about that. A check of the iaai.com website, there were a few Aerios (2002) with over 200K miles on the ODO. They were totaled due to accidents.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      These finctional stories are my favorite part of the junkyard finds. Well done.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I can barely remember these now , only the rear view rings a bell . From that angle it sort of reminds me of a late 80s Ford Tempo that shrank in the dryer . I always preferred , even liked the looks of the wagon version , that reminded me of a shrunken Taurus wagon of the oval era.I even briefly considered buying one when new , but was concerned about Suzuki’s bad rep , the only Suzuki I ever considered since the Samarais came out while I was living in Denver ( luckily I passed on that too ). Saw one of the wagons just yesterday parked by my xB in a special parking area at a local hospital reserved for compact delivery vehicles , obviously still on the job .

  • avatar
    lurker

    This was a fun little car. I test drove the wagon version with a manual. The combination of ~150 hp and low weight made it faster than the RSX base model and the Mazda 3 I was also considering. While I can’t say it handled well, it was amusing to drive, with a plush Buick-like ride, _lots_ of sway going around corners, and decent acceleration. I felt like I was riding a motorcycle because it leaned so far over in corners. I was very much seduced by the fun to drive factor. But I never seriously considered it because it just seemed too small to be safe — I was transitioning out of a 2300 pound Mirage with popped air bags, and I wanted something that would protect me if I got hit.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I have a friend whose sister still drives one of these, as she’s dating a 45-year-old Puerto Rican coke dealer whose Cavalier is up on blocks (seriously)

    He swore to me the handling was amazing (granted, he drove a Forenza at the time), until he drove an E46 325i and recanted. To this day, all we can say good about the car is that it runs and doesn’t break (much). Good riddance to this ’04 Aerio, and good riddance to Suzuki NA.

    I still want a Samurai though…

  • avatar
    KindaFondaHonda

    The name always sounded like areola to me. Would never drive a car with a name that conjures up tits.

    Anyway, I’d guess 90%+ of those things were owned by credit deadbeats (Aerios, not areolas).

    Bye, Su-pukie!

  • avatar
    Joss

    I remember looking at the wagon and finding the back seat a bit pinched for head & knee room. It was well-equipped and priced. The all wheel drive was an appealing winter availability but there was mileage penalty rest of the year.

    Small number of dealers though and if you didn’t get on with your local how far would you have to go?

    Maybe there’s a future paradox here for PSA with Peugeot brand going back to bicycles..?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Someone in my building has a newer looking blue[ish] 5-door with a roof rack, and I believe I once saw skis attached. This one and the junked one in the picture are the only two of these I have seen in many years.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    My neighbor in Honolulu has one. His wife decorated the interior with beads glued to the dash and headliner.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There is a need for an inexpensive, fuel efficient, and fairly reliable small car. Maybe this particular car was not the answer but an inexpensive car that was reliable would be better than a used car with lots of miles that is of questionable reliability. If it were inexpensive enough it would be better just to get a new one every 5 years. A disposable car would not be such a bad idea if you could get a good 3 to 5 years of low maintenance and it were considerably less than other comparable cars.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I almost bought (but couldn’t get bought) a Aerio SVX?? 5 door wagon/mini SUV of that same generation.I was really impressed with its use of space and a pretty strong engine for the size of the car.Fit and finish was as good as most makes in that price range and the standard features were awesome.
    Its a shame that Suzuki couldn’t make it in the U.S.
    I blame most of this on poor management by investors trying to milk all the money they could….
    Neat brand and I will miss it!

  • avatar
    jconli1

    In 2005, I cross-shopped an almost-new Aerio wagon against a then seven year old Impreza wagon and still decided the Impreza was where it was at. Having owned a truly great Swift GTi before, I wanted to give Suzuki the benefit of the doubt. The funky dash design, tall and roomy interior, and general quirkiness of it were all intriguing enough (I have a history of slightly odd cars), but in the end, they lost me in making AWD available only on the automatic. I knew I’d be relocating to the NW shortly and wanted a good ski/fire-road car… the Impreza was a mountain goat that served very well… no regrets, but a little bittersweet sentimentality thinking “what if”.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    It’s too bad Suzuki never marketed these with standard AWD and stick or available auto. They could have carved a niche just below Subaru similar to the folks who were the 1st Subaru AWD fans in the 70′s.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Not surprised at all to see this “newer” car in boneyard. The bottom feeder ‘cheap deals’ end up scrapped first.

    If this was at auction, scrap yard got it cheap, since not a ‘sellable’ car anymore. With Suzuki leaving, BHPH financers will not want to cut loans for them, so off to the crushers.

    I imagine lots of Forenzas and Renos will be lining up the ‘U Pulls” this summer.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I had an identical Aerio as a rental, for about a week, back in 2004. I put 750 miles on it. We really enjoyed the car’s nimble nature, supple ride, and when it was flogged, the engine sounded pretty darn good, too!

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    It has an $1,100 trade in value in good condition. Needing new plugs and an oil change is reason to junk it if you look at cost/benefit.

  • avatar

    You know, I actually wanted to buy one of these back around 2003. But the purchase price plus not-so-good fuel economy was such that I never even took it for a test drive. The same thing happened in 2007 when I ended up buying a Scion xB. The Aerio was dead by then, but the fuel mileage on the rest of the Suzuki line-up was so terrible that it wasn’t worth the cost of entry.

  • avatar
    stereorobb

    Man these sure didn’t last very long did they?! I remember seeing the kinda cool commercials for these when they came out. Then I saw one in the wild and thought how ugly and terrible they looked. Almost born hoopties, my neighbor had a yellow one and it was already falling apart at a year old. Heh. These will be totally forgotten in a few years.


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