Hawk Strictly Suzuki Suzuki Esteem Seat Kit

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

bseatsnew02.jpg (43955 bytes)Many people care a great deal about how their trucks look. Some owners keep them spotless, others like them to be all beat up, while the rest simply don't care about their truck's appearance. As long as we have fun with our trucks, looks don't really matter when it comes to trail performance. Being comfortable, though, is another matter - especially if the truck is a daily driver or sees long days of four wheeling in such places as the Rubicon or Moab. Whether or not an attractive interior is important to you, comfortable seats can really make a difference in your overall enjoyment behind the wheel. One thing everyone can appreciate is a lower level of fatigue at the end of a long day off-road.

The new seats, installed. Compare with the old seats in the picture at right.The old seats, installed. Compare with the new seats in the picture at right.The stock Samurai seats may have been comfortable when they were new, but after years of abuse they can tear, become very uncomfortable, or even break. My Samurai was a top-of-the-line JX model with the upgraded cloth seats. Back in 1994 when I purchased it, the seats were still quite comfortable. The off-road bumps I frequently subjected my truck to were more than the stock seats could handle, however, and they quickly wore out. The springs became uncomfortable and the ratcheting teeth of the recline mechanism began to break, making the seats more and more uncomfortable. Each set of replacement Samurai seats that I installed quickly suffered the same fate. I eventually replaced my driver's seat with one from a Mazda B-series pickup, and while it was stronger and more comfortable than the stock Suzuki seats, it did not match my truck's interior and was much too wide for a proper fit. In fact, I had to move the driver's side seat belt buckle to the passenger side, sharing the same bolt for both front occupants. Not a safe solution!

The new seats, from the top. Compare with the old in the picture at right.The old seats, from the top. Compare with the new in the picture at left.Many Suzuki owners have gone through similar expense and frustration of installing new front seats into their Samurais. Bolting in replacement Samurai seats works as a short-term solution and is very easy, but doesn't solve the real problem of the seat's design. Other people take seats from other vehicles and attempt to fabricate some adapter brackets, and if done well, this can be a very good solution. Unfortunately, the time and effort required to take on a project like this can be prohibitive.

bseatsnewi01.jpg (16490 bytes)Hawk Strictly Suzuki has developed an elegant and simple solution to our comfort problem, selling seats that are not only a simple bolt-in procedure, but also a much more comfortable and stronger design. Since the Samurai's seat-track width is unique, an adapter kit is included with your choice of any seat from a Suzuki Swift, Geo Metro or Suzuki Esteem to allow for a direct bolt-in installation.

Looking down behind the new seat.I could have gone to the trouble of trying to find a nice set of seats at a wrecking yard locally for a good price and buying only the seat rail adapter kit from Hawk, but I was sick and tired of constantly dealing with seat problems and I wanted a quick, satisfying solution once and for all. I called Hawk and ordered a pair of seats from a 1998 Esteem, but to save on shipping charges, I took delivery of the seats in person.

My first impression of the seats was how nice they looked. I have always been pleased with the quality of parts and services from Hawk, and for all intents and purposes these seats looked brand new. Being Suzuki seats, the gray patterned fabric matched my interior perfectly. The seat rail adapting kit was already installed, so the seats were ready to bolt right into my Samurai.

Old seats have been removed.Removal of the stock seats is straightforward. Removal of four 12mm bolts per seat is all it takes to lift them out. With Hawk's great adapter kit, installing the new seats takes no longer than removing the old ones. I was also able to move my seatbelt buckle back to its own bolt on the driver's side without any interference from the seat tracks.

The difference these seats made on my truck's interior was phenomenal. Those dirty, old, ripped seats really made my truck look bad; these new ones make my truck look like a much more expensive vehicle. Where these new seats really stand out from the stock ones is in comfort. I immediately felt a night-and-day difference the first time I sat in them. The lower seat cushion's angle is just right, the side bolsters hold the body securely in place, and the backrest rake adjustment allows just the right driving position.

Samurai seats are some of the narrowest in any vehicle, so the Esteem seats are marginally wider than the Samurai's. However, these seats are still very narrow, and the additional width is from the non-rigid side bolsters. This means that an aftermarket center console should not interfere and parking brake operation is not affected.

On the way to the trail, these new seats provide a very noticeable improvement in long-distance comfort. Whereas with my old seats, two to three hours was all it took until my back was very sore. With the Esteem seats, I can drive all day without complaining of discomfort. On the trail, the seats do a very good job of holding me in place, even in steep off-camber sections with the doors removed.

A pair of front seats from a Metro or Esteem with the adapter kit sells for $300. If you already have access to a pair of these seats, the adapter kits are available for $75. Hawk Strictly Suzuki's conversion is of very high quality, and worth every penny if looks and comfort are of any importance to you. Every passenger - especially other Suzuki owners - who has sat in these seats has commented on the comfort, and the revamped interior is much more pleasing to the eye.

--Geoff Beasley

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