Born in Japan, Suzuki is an automaker that has made a name for itself by crafting vehicles that emphasize value and affordability. The brand's lineup includes sedans, wagons and SUVs.The company was founded by Michio Suzuki in 1909 as Suzuki Loom Works. By the 1950s, its focus had expanded beyond just loom machines to include both motorcycles and automobiles. In 1955, it rolled out the Suzulight, a compact car that proved to be a harbinger of a new era of Japanese lightweight vehicles. The automaker expanded its lineup to include a truck in 1961; like its sibling, the Suzulight Carry distinguished itself with its featherweight specification. By the end of the decade, the Suzuki lineup had grown to include the Fronte passenger car, the subcompact Fronte 800 and the Carry Van full-cab van.In 1970, Suzuki rolled out the Jimny, a four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle that resembled a playful version of the Jeep CJ-5. The automaker's roster continued to grow throughout this decade, with the addition of the Alto and the subcompact LJ80.The 1980s saw Suzuki partnering with General Motors -- GM acquired a 5 percent stake in the company. GM made this move partially in response to the growing popularity of subcompacts in the U.S. market; after the purchase, Suzuki products were rebadged and sold as GM vehicles on American shores.In 1985, the carmaker launched an American outpost, and for the first time, Suzuki-branded vehicles became available on U.S. shores. The company's first model was the Samurai; available as either a convertible or a hardtop, this compact sport-utility vehicle met with immediate success. However, the Samurai's glory days were short-lived.In 1988, Consumer Reports published an article in which it deemed the vehicle unsafe, saying it was more likely than most to roll over during certain maneuvers. Suzuki took the magazine to court (and eventually won) but the bad publicity from the article cast a pall on the Samurai that never quite lifted. Suzuki soldiered on, though; by the end of the decade, its total aggregate car production had topped 10 million units, and its line had grown to include the compact Swift and the Sidekick, a compact SUV.During the '90s, Suzuki expanded its reach to include territories like Egypt, Vietnam and Hungary, and launched new models like the Cappuccino convertible and the lightweight Wagon R. On U.S. soil, Suzuki rolled out the Esteem, replaced the beleaguered Samurai with the X-90 and replaced the Sidekick with the Vitara and Grand Vitara.Suzuki and General Motors purchased ailing Daewoo in 2004, and two of that manufacturer's vehicles were rebadged and given new life as Suzukis; the Suzuki Forenza and Suzuki Verona both had former lives as Daewoo cars.Today's Suzukis come up a bit short in refinement relative to the competition. However, they still offer plenty of value for car buyers on a tight budget.