Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Limited 4dr SUV Exterior

Select Model Year

Test Drive...
Without The Salesperson

Learn More

powered by Beacon

New Models

Used Models

The Suzuki Grand Vitara is a small SUV that attempts to deliver the often mutually exclusive attributes of off-road ability and on-road comfort. In its first generation, the Grand Vitara featured a trucklike chassis, V6 power and low-range gearing. The current model is similar, but features a body structure that blends car and truck chassis designs.

Due to a variety of shortcomings, the original Grand Vitara did not achieve a great deal of success in the U.S. marketplace. The current model is greatly improved, however, and even if it lacks the refinement of its many compact SUV competitors, its rough-and-tumble nature makes it a good choice for those who like to escape the urban grind with adventures into the great outdoors.

Current Suzuki Grand Vitara
The Suzuki Grand Vitara has seating for five passengers, a long list of standard features and available four-wheel drive with low-range gearing.

There are four styles available for the Suzuki Grand Vitara: Base, Premium, Ultimate Adventure Edition and Limited. Even base and Premium models are pretty well equipped with features like automatic climate control, full power accessories, a removable Garmin navigation unit and side curtain airbags. The Ultimate Adventure Edition gets a few items that'll come in handy out in the wilderness like heated front seats, water-resistant upholstery and foglights, while the Limited gets luxurious upgrades like leather seating, keyless ignition/entry and a premium sound system. Bluetooth is optional on all but the base Grand Vitara.

Every Suzuki Grand Vitara is powered by a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that produces 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on base models, while all other versions get a four-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard across the lineup, but Premium models can also be had with a four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case. Limited models are offered with a four-mode 4WD system (4H, 4H Lock, 4L Lock and N) that allows the Grand Vitara to be flat-towed behind an RV without adding miles to the odometer.

Like most other compact SUVs, the Grand Vitara features a carlike unibody chassis for improved body rigidity, handling and safety. Suzuki has attempted to differentiate it, however, by incorporating a ladder frame design into the unibody structure. The company says this enhances the vehicle's off-road and towing abilities. In editorial reviews, this Suzuki SUV has earned favorable commentary for its long list of standard features, attractive price and above-average abilities when taken off-pavement. Its slow acceleration, unimpressive fuel economy and general lack of refinement, however, make it less appealing than other compact crossovers.

Used Suzuki Grand Vitara Models
The present second-generation Suzuki Grand Vitara debuted for the 2006 model year with one engine -- a 2.7-liter V6 that was capable of 185 hp. Changes were minimal until 2009, when a comprehensive midcycle update brought about the current four-cylinder engine and a much more powerful 3.2-liter V6. The V6 was available on XSport and Luxury trims and made 230 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque. Other changes included some redesigned interior controls and a new grille and front bumper design. Unfortunately, the V6 was discontinued after 2010, but finding a used example from its two years on the market would be a good idea. The Ultimate Adventure Edition was unavailable prior to 2012.

The first-generation Suzuki Grand Vitara debuted for the 1999 model year and lasted through 2005. It served as a replacement for the Sidekick, Suzuki's previous compact SUV. There was also a "regular" Vitara -- the difference between the two was that the Grand Vitara came with a V6 engine and more standard equipment and was available as a four-door body style only.

In its first year, the Grand Vitara was the only small SUV for the U.S. market equipped with a V6 engine. Upon release, this 2.5-liter V6 made 155 hp. Other distinct design elements included a trucklike chassis and low-range gearing on four-wheel-drive models. The main trim levels were either two-wheel-drive JS or four-wheel-drive JLX. There were also "plus" versions that came standard with antilock brakes and alloy wheels. In 2000, a plush Limited model was released that featured, among other luxuries, leather seating. In 2002 the V6 gained 10 more hp, and in 2003 Suzuki simplified the trim levels to be known simply as 2WD and 4WD.

Though many of its specs looked good on paper, this Suzuki Grand Vitara's shortcomings quickly became apparent in editorial reviews. The V6's output lagged behind many competitors' four-cylinder engines; ride quality was poor over rough pavement; and the interior was short on comfort and space. For the most part, shoppers interested in a used SUV should look elsewhere.

Read the most recent 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Suzuki Grand Vitara page.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Research Models

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT