Full 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Suzuki Grand Vitara receives only minor changes to its feature content, most notably a standard removable navigation system. The Premium Special Edition debuts as a new midrange trim level, navigation is now standard across all trim levels, Bluetooth is available on all but the base model and an auxiliary audio jack is now standard on the XSport and higher trims.
The compact crossover SUV market is a crowded field. For smaller automakers, it's easy for their offerings to get lost in the morass of choices, especially when the segment's front-runners seem so firmly entrenched. The 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara has some potential to squeeze its way into the limelight, but its limited dealer network and relative obscurity seem to be keeping it off center stage.
And that's really too bad, since the Grand Vitara represents a rather good value. It's priced about a couple thousand dollars below comparably equipped Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s, yet you also get a long list of standard features and a long 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Suzuki is also unusual in that it's available with dual-range four-wheel drive for a bit of added off-road capability.
After a midcycle refresh last year, the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara remains mostly unchanged. To Suzuki's credit, the 2010 revisions remedy some of the Grand Vitara's shortcomings we pointed out in a recent test-drive. Navigation is now standard for all models, while Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio jack are available on most trim levels. These items were either previously unavailable or were dealer-installed options.
But there are still some flaws that keep the Grand Vitara upstaged by the stalwart Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. For the added coin, the CR-V delivers a more comfortable cabin and refinement, while the RAV4 packs more engine punch and offers a third-row seat. Other favorites of ours include the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester. As such, the Grand Vitara ends up being a mid-pack player in this segment. But if value is important, this Suzuki could be worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara is a compact crossover SUV that is offered in four trim levels related to drivetrain. The four-cylinder models are offered in Base, Premium, XSport and Limited. V6-equipped trims come only in XSport and Limited. Standard features for the base models include 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, full power accessories, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a four-speaker stereo with a single-CD/MP3 player. New for 2010, all Grand Vitara models receive a removable Garmin navigation unit mounted atop the dash.
The Premium trim includes all of the base features and adds privacy glass, a hard-shelled spare wheel cover and a cargo cover. Premium 4WD models also get heated sideview mirrors. A new Premium Special Edition trim level joins the lineup this year and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, expanded navigation services (real-time traffic, movie times, low price fuel finder and weather), a six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack. The XSport trim adds a sunroof, roof rails and foglamps, keyless ignition/entry and a leather steering wheel, but deletes the hard spare wheel cover.
Those who spring for the fully loaded Limited model will get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, silver and wood print interior trim and additional speakers for the audio system. The corresponding trim levels on V6-powered models are almost identical to their four-cylinder counterparts, but the V6 XSport comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited has standard 18-inch wheels.
Options include a rear back-up camera with rearview mirror display and Bluetooth (on all trims except the base models). In addition, the XSport models can be fitted with an Appearance package, which adds a side step and textured fender flares.
Powertrains and Performance
Two engine choices are available for the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara. The 2.4-liter inline-4 produces 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque and can be paired with either a five-speed manual transmission (on Base) or a four-speed automatic (standard on all other four-cylinder models). A more substantial 3.2-liter V6 that makes 230 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque is available only on XSport and Limited models, and come standard with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all trims except for the Base can be optioned with four-wheel drive. The Premium trim's optional 4WD is a single-mode system (as is the Premium Special Edition), while all XSport and Limited trims get four-mode 4WD (4H, 4H Lock, 4L Lock and N). The four-mode system's neutral (N) setting allows the Grand Vitara to be flat-towed behind a recreational vehicle without mileage accumulation. XSport and Limited 4WD V6 models also come with hill descent control.
A recent test of a four-cylinder, rear-drive Grand Vitara revealed fairly leisurely acceleration numbers. This particular Suzuki required 10.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop -- slightly slower than an AWD Honda CR-V. Fuel economy estimates for the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara are average for the segment. A rear-wheel-drive four-cylinder model with the automatic gets 19/25/21 mpg while the V6 gets 18/24/20 with RWD and 17/23/19 with 4WD.
The 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara's standard safety features include stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat side impact airbags. In government crash tests, Suzuki's SUV earned four stars (out of five) in frontal-impact protection for both driver and passenger. Side-impact tests resulted in a perfect five-star rating for both front and rear occupants.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Grand Vitara its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset test and the second-highest rating of "Acceptable" in the side test. In Edmunds brake testing, the Grand Vitara had a very short 60-0-mph stopping distance of 110 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Though it won't win any awards for design, the five-passenger Grand Vitara has a nice-looking interior, with flowing lines and gauges set in simulated aluminum trim. The lighted red displays on the center stack are well-placed and easy to read, but they lack the kind of visual panache found in other SUVs. The standard Garmin navigation is a welcome addition this year, and its removable design should make it appealing for adventure seekers. It is, however, more difficult to operate (and reach) than conventional built-in systems.
The sleek and attractive cabin is roomy for a compact SUV, but the Grand Vitara is lacking in interior storage compartments. So while passengers will be relatively comfy, they won't have many places to stash their belongings. Also, the Limited's leather upholstery looks good, but it isn't as comfortable as the cloth seats found in the Base and XSport models. A highly competitive 69 cubic feet of total cargo space is available with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down. One drawback to the cargo bay is the rear door, which is hinged on the passenger side, complicating curbside loading and unloading (in North America, anyway).
Around town, the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara is a decent choice for shuttling kids and tackling the daily commute. On longer trips, though, a lack of ride refinement and firmer seats get tiresome after a few hours. Wind noise is well-quieted, though road noise is noticeable at highway speeds. The four-cylinder engine grows a bit too loud at full throttle and lacks the refinement found in other SUVs; the V6 and its five-speed automatic will likely be worth the extra cost for many people.
Given the Grand Vitara's ability to pull double duty as a city commuter yet navigate off-road terrain as a compact SUV, there are some concessions to be made. Road-holding grip is noticeably low, requiring gentle inputs when cornering at the limit. The alternatives from Honda and Toyota feel noticeably more stable and carlike in comparison.