Many off-roaders have a special place in their hearts for Suzuki automobiles. Over the years, the company made some very popular lightweight off-road vehicles, most notably the Samurai (shown below). This year, the company celebrates 25 years of making automobiles in the U.S. (see a history of Suzuki on Off-Road.com), with the company offering 6 models in North Americans in 2010.

Suzuki (founded in 1909) detailed its history in the automotive realm, making a shift after World War II to start producing two-wheel vehicles, beginning with the Power Free motorized bicycle in 1952, and followed by the 60cc Diamond Free – Suzuki’s first true motorcycle – in 1953. Suzuki’s first mass-produced car, the 360cc Suzulight, was introduced to the Japanese market in 1955. And in 1985, 25 years ago, Suzuki entered the U.S. automotive market with the Samurai, which Suzuki calls “America’s first compact SUV.”

To further solidify its presence in North America (Suzuki has sold motorcycles in the U.S. since 1963), Suzuki established CAMI Automotive, an automotive assembly facility in Ontario, Canada. In 1988, Suzuki produced another popular vehicle with off-roaders in the Sidekick. Eleven years later in 1999, the Grand Vitara SUV was offered to American consumers.

Today, Suzuki (which still produces motorcycles and marine products) offers crossovers (SX4 Crossover, SX4 Sport and SX4 SportBack), SUVs (Grand Vitara), an off-road capable truck (Equator) and a sport sedan (Kizashi). Supported in 49 states by approximately 300 dealers, American Suzuki celebrates its 25th anniversary by offering a lineup of vehicles to satisfy the needs of America’s automotive consumer.

Here are some Suzuki Timeline Highlights

1985 – Suzuki of America Automotive Corporation is established, and the Samurai compact SUV goes on sale.

U.S. automobile line: Samurai.

1988 – Suzuki launches the compact Sidekick four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle and the Swift compact car.

1999 – Suzuki’s SUV line is enhanced with the arrival of the compact Vitara and larger Grand Vitara.

2002 – Suzuki reaches 30 million cumulative automobile sales worldwide

2008 – Suzuki expands the SX4 family to include the four-door SX4 Sport.

2009 – Suzuki introduces the Equator midsize pickup truck

2010 – Suzuki introduces the Kizashi, the company’s first entry into the all-wheel-drive sport sedan segment.

Source: Suzuki

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