Home Market & Buyer's Guides Suzuki Jimny USA – Will We Ever See The Jimny Back?

Suzuki Jimny USA – Will We Ever See The Jimny Back?

by Kelvin Yates

Are you interested in a small off-road mini-SUV and the Jimny has stood up to be one of the coolest options that you can get? This is really unfortunate because the Suzuki Jimny USA story did not have a happy ending. But you shouldn’t worry because there are other alternatives and options to consider that we are going to cover as well as the models which were imported into the USA and you could purchase right now.

These days it’s extremely hard to find a small SUV. All the SUVs in the US are big and bulky. Even the crossovers are extremely large for some people. And there are no real off-roaders out there that could fit the bill with a small and cool form factor that could handle any terrain. That’s why many people still crave the Jimny.

The Suzuki Jimny is everything that an off-roader loves with its small form factor and its ability to tackle every terrain possible. The Jimny is basically a true legend and is regarded as one of the best off-road vehicles of all time. It is a real shame that the Suzuki Jimny USA story has not a happy ending, yet! Because someday we may get the Jimny around here and when would that be, we still don’t know. Either way, we have a story to cover here.

In this article, we are going to cover the story of the Suzuki Jimny. We will see the history of the Jimny and the generations that were produced. Then we will cover the generation that was imported in the US and why it was canceled. Lastly, we will take a look at the alternatives. So, follow along.

Background Of The Suzuki Jimny USA

The Suzuki Jimny is a true legend when it comes to utilitarian vehicles and it has proven itself to be an icon when it comes to off-roading capabilities.

It is sold all over the globe and the Jimny can tackle anything that you throw at it. It is that good when it comes to tackling any terrain possible.

The Jimny is also beloved because it delivers all of this performance in a small form factor that is visually pleasing. When you try to tackle rugged terrain, you don’t need a huge piece of equipment that will struggle to tackle the hill because of its huge size.

In order to tackle any hill, you just need a small Jimny that will climb over it in a matter of minutes. That’s why many people still feel sad that they cannot import the Jimny in the USA and the Suzuki Jimny USA is still an impossible dream. For now!

Because we don’t know what the future is holding and someday, we might eventually see the Jimny back on the roads. Until then, we will enjoy our alternatives. But which are the alternatives? That we are going to cover at the end of the article. Because this is still a story about the Jimny.

The Jimny started its journey back in the ’70s and is produced until this day. From a small utilitarian vehicle, it has evolved into an SUV that is used by many all over the globe. It was sold in more than 2.8 million samples and is still one of the top options when it comes to SUV vehicles. The production lasts for four long generations and we are going to cover all of them in the following chapters.

Generations Of The Suzuki Jimny USA And Globally

Every generation of the Jimny was an improvement from the previous one. And all this made it possible for this small off-roader to be improved all over the years and still make the headlines when it comes to off-road ability and tackling rugged terrain.

There are four generations in total of this magnificent off-roader and the Jimny is still produced until this day but unfortunately, as we mentioned the Suzuki Jimny USA is not possible and later, we are going to cover why.

But first, let’s cover the generations of the Jimny as well as the Jimny model that was sold in the US until 1995. So, if you want to learn more about the Jimny follow along.

First Generation LJ10

The first Jimny was codenamed LJ10. The LJ10 was introduced back in 1970 and the production of the first generation of the Jimny lasted until 1981.

The first generation was purely utilitarian and didn’t offer any commodities that we find in today’s SUVs. This generation closely resembled the Willy’s Jeep that was produced during WW2 and played a major role in defeating the enemy.

The LJ10 on the other hand was also targeted for use in the military and off-roading enthusiasts. This generation has implemented a body-on-frame design which was key in holding the structural integrity of the Jimny while tackling the impossible terrains all over the world.

It was assembled in Germany and Australia. Unfortunately, this model was not offered in the United States by Suzuki. The imports for this model were made by another company that collaborated with Suzuki. That’s why the number of these cars in the US is just a handful.

The Suzuki Jimny USA model immediately crushed the competition that was the Mitsubishi Jeep that resembled the original Willy’s Jeep with more than 6000 units sold in 1971. Then Suzuki has realized the potential of the Jimny and ramped up the production.

Specs Of The LJ10

There were three body styles that the Jimny was offered. These were the two-door wagon, the two-door convertible, and 2 door cab chassis.

During its long production run of 10 years, the LJ10 was offered in three different engine options. A straight two, straight three, and a straight-four engine option was the most powerful offering.

In the transmission department, there was only one offering and that was the 4-speed manual transmission.

Second Generation SJ30 Or Chevrolet Samurai

The second generation of the Jimny is the one that most car enthusiasts crave. And for a good reason. The second generation made the Jimny a true legend among the car community.

The Jimny distanced from the previous utilitarian design and incorporated something more modern. Something that attracted young buyers and became an instant hit.

The new Jimny was a true 80’s icon and was all over the place. Starting from TV Shows, movies, commercials. All this boosted the popularity of the Jimny to the next level.


For the North American market, the Jimny was named the Chevrolet Samurai. So, if you had one of these in high school, it must have been a Samurai.

The second generation was produced globally and with this model, Suzuki has entered many new markets where Jimny’s were not sold before. The new model was produced in South America, Japan, India, Indonesia, Africa. In these markets, the Jimny was one of the top choices when it came to getting a small utilitarian SUV.

The production run of the new Jimny started in 1981 and lasted up until 2005 in Indonesia. Making the production run of the second generation Jimny more than 20 years long. And that is a true benchmark that tells you a lot about the Jimny.

Specs Of The SJ30

In the US the Suzuki Jimny USA model was introduced back in 1985, almost 4 years after the initial production run. This model was specifically created for the USA market for the model year 1986. The US model was priced around $6200 and sold out immediately. With 47,000 units sold in the first year only. That tells you a lot when it comes to its popularity. 47,000 for a new vehicle is plenty, to be honest.

Nevertheless, the model was equipped with a 1.3-liter engine that produced 63 horsepower. Which was not a lot, but was enough for the market that the Jimny was targeting. And that were the young drivers and the off-road enthusiasts.

The initial model was offered both in convertible and a hard top which incorporated rear seats until the 1994 model year.

The Samurai has gathered a lot of serious traction among the 4WD community. This was due to its excellent off-road performance and the ability to tackle any rugged terrain with ease. Despite the weak engine that it had, it managed to outsell the Jeep Wrangler by a margin of two to one in the second year of the sales in the US.

This market gain was owed to the excellent 4WD capabilities of the Samurai and the lightweight body that was less prone when it comes to sinking into soft terrains. And that is something that the bigger terrain vehicles were struggling with.

1988 Update

The 1988 model year brought many new updates and included a revised suspension that improved the off-road capabilities of the Samurai. These new updates included some softer suspension settings and a bigger anti-roll bar which reduced the body roll by a big margin.

The transmission was also tuned and has included a lower fifth gear for better highway performance.

The newly updated model also brought some new interior and comfier seats. The new dashboard was also one of the updates that improved the Suzuki Jimny USA model greatly compared to its predecessor.

1991 Update

The engine was also updated with fuel injection and a throttle body. The Samurai was one of the first models that brought the fuel injection in 1991 and this improved the engine performance and the overall fuel mileage because of the better fuel delivery system.

Decline Of Sales And Cancelation In The USA

But as the years went by, stricter regulations have taken place and this slowly has crushed the sales of the Jimny in the US and Canada. That’s why the Samurai was removed from the offering in the US and the Samurai was no longer available in these markets. Sadly, this is still the case until this day.

It is really unfortunate for many car enthusiasts and many still hope that Suzuki will return to the US once again. Until then we can still dream of getting a Suzuki Jimny from a dealership. But let’s look on the bright side and cover the later models of the Jimny and then let’s see what are the alternatives of the Suzuki Jimny USA model.

Third Generation Suzuki Jimny

The third generation of the Jimny was introduced in 1997 for the 1998 model and the production lasted until 2018. It incorporated a more modern approach than its predecessor the Samurai and included more safety features than its old predecessor from the early ’80s.

These innovations in the design language and safety features improved the Jimny’s reputation as an unsafe vehicle and the new model was highly regarded for these improvements.

And this is the point where the Jimny starts to start to distance itself from the Kei cars and enter a new market that was controlled by the big SUVs. This generation was still small compared to the SUV standards but still, it was a brave approach by Suzuki to grab a piece of the share in this market. It is still regarded as an SUV. But one of the smallest that you will come across except maybe the Lada Niva which is of similar design philosophy.

The new model came in two configurations. A two-door wagon and a two-door convertible. This new model was assembled in Japan, Colombia, and Brazil. Suzuki retained the markets in which it was present before. Except for the US market where it didn’t introduce the Suzuki Jimny USA model.

Specs Of The Third Generation

The new Jimny came equipped with 4 different engines. One of them was a 658cc straight 3 engine, while the other 1.3 engine was punchier. Two of them were 1.3 liters straight 4 gasoline engines that produced around 85 horsepower while there was also one diesel option built by Renault that made 86 hp.

In the transmission department, the new Jimny kept the same 5-speed manual and offered a four-speed automatic transmission as well.

The new Jimny also offered a greater off-roading experience compared to its predecessor allowing the driver to switch configurations from 2WD to 4WD. One of the innovations was the anti-locking hubs which allowed the Jimny to be shifted from 2WD to 4WD at highway speeds and it didn’t require the car to be stopped to do so.

During its long life, it incorporated a facelift and some modern touch-ups to make it more appealing to the customers.

Fourth Generation

The fourth generation of the Jimny was introduced in 2018 for the 2019 model. This new model took the Jimny on a whole new level incorporating many new technologies and innovations.

The Jimny introduced a new design line and when you pay better attention to it, it closely resembles the G-wagon. It’s like a baby G wagon, to be honest. Suzuki claims that this model is reminiscent of the early days with the LJ model with which I quite agree.

Suzuki Jimny USA

The new model kept the same Kei car dimensions but quietly improved the safety of the model by incorporating high strength chassis that uses a 3-link rigid axle suspension that comes with coil springs.

The new model also included some new beautiful colors that made the Jimny a step ahead of the competition. The third-generation Suzuki Jimny USA model is also not present in the US.

Specs Of The Fourth Generation

The new model, similar to the previous models is incorporating the same body on frame design but is strengthened by 1.5 times more than the previous model. As we mentioned above, the suspension is upgraded as well delivering an unmatched 2WD and 4WD experience.

There are two engines that are available. One of them is the 658cc turbocharged three cylinders and the more powerful 1.5 liters straight-four engine intended for the global market which develops 100hp. Which is really respectable, to be honest.

In the transmission department, there are two offerings. One of them is the standard 5-speed manual. While the other is a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The international model has a larger length and width than the Japanese Kei car model. Which also makes it quite heavier as well. Weighing 2,502 lb. which is 210 lb. more than the Japanese market version.

The new model also incorporates more technology and includes an infotainment system with satellite navigation. But as we mentioned, Suzuki does not offer a Suzuki Jimny USA model which is quite unfortunate frankly.

Is It Possible For The Jimny To Make A US Comeback? – Suzuki Jimny USA

The possible comeback of Suzuki to the US with the Jimny is highly unlikely. So, why is this the case? This is the case because the Jimny does not comply with the US safety standards at all.

The Kei cars that are driven in Japan are extremely small and considered to be unsafe for the US market. This means that the Jimny is not one of the models that could be sold in the US.

As we researched if Suzuki wants to make the Jimny compliant with US regulations. It has to greatly improve the safety of the vehicle to be even considered by the US regulators that determine which car is approved to sell in the US.

This means that Suzuki should massively invest in this model to bring it up to the US standards. And these standards considering the potential sales is unfeasible for them as a company. That’s why is highly unlikely that we will see the Jimny in the US dealerships.

Can I Privately Import The Jimny To The US?

This is another option that is worth considering to be honest. There are some Japanese cars that can be imported into the US.

This could be the case with the Jimny as well. If you are on the market for a Jimny and you live in the US, it is a good idea to contact the dealerships abroad that sell the Jimny and ask them if this business is possible to do. If you can legally import a Jimny to the US, then excellent. On the other hand, if you can’t, you can consider some of the alternatives that are out there on the market.

Suzuki Jimny USA

What Are The Alternatives? – Suzuki Jimny USA

We have covered the Jimny and its sad Suzuki Jimny USA story. Now let’s see what are the alternatives for the Jimny in the United States since you cannot purchase the Jimny here but you still want to drive a car with similar characteristics. And let’s see which are these cars.

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler would probably be the first car that could come to your mind when you consider an alternative for the Jimny. This is the case because they are pretty similar utilitarian vehicles that have similar design lines.

The Wrangler is an all-American product approved for the US market and you shouldn’t have any worries when it comes to getting one for yourself. The parts are also dirt cheap to find for the Wrangler. A good purchase for sure!

Mercedes G-Class

The G-class is another alternative for the Jimny. But not any G-class, the new models are crazy expensive and full of technology.

And when you are looking for a Jimny replacement, the earlier models of the G-wagon are the perfect options for you. They are utilitarian vehicles that you could thrash on the hills and enjoy to the fullest.

They are still quite more expensive than a Wrangler, so it’s up to you and your budget on how far you can go when it comes to your wishes for your future off-roader. Either way works.

Suzuki Jimny US Market Entry Facts

  1. Suzuki withdrew from the US market in 2010, and the much-loved Suzuki Jimny is not available to purchase in the USA.
  2. Some new models of the Suzuki Jimny 2021 to 2022 are being listed on select dealership websites in the USA.
  3. The origin of these new Suzuki Jimny models is from Mexico.
  4. Dealerships in Oklahoma City and San Juan Texas were listed as having the new Suzuki Jimny models available for sale.
  5. Neither dealership disclosed details on how they were able to bring the new Suzuki Jimny models into the US market.
  6. Both dealerships promptly took the Jimny listings off their websites after inquiries were made.
  7. The unit sold by Iconic Motors had an Oklahoma title and could be registered for use.
  8. The two models from Barret Auto Gallery were likely only viable for recreational off-road use.
  9. The dealerships marked up the price of these cars substantially, with Iconic Motors having its example up for $45,000.
  10. Suzuki Mexico’s website says that the Jimny is sold out, but if available, the most expensive GLX Auto model would not set you back more than $22,000.

Conclusion – Suzuki Jimny USA

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Jimny. We learned the background and the history of the Jimny, from its early beginnings until this day.

We have covered all four generations and the specs they offered as well the innovations over the time they included. Then we also discussed the sad Suzuki Jimny USA story and why it stopped being imported into the US.

Then we have covered the alternatives when it comes to the Jimny that are still available out there and available for purchase. As we noted, these alternatives were the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes G-class. Pretty similar vehicles with the Jimny. If your goal is off-roading and we hope that you enjoyed our article on this legendary small SUV.

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