Full 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara Review
What's New for 2013
This is the last year for the Grand Vitara, as Suzuki has stopped selling cars in the United States. For this final year, the 2013 Grand Vitara gets a freshened front fascia and grille. Bluetooth is now standard across all trims, while alloy wheels are now standard on Premium models.
The compact SUV segment has made huge leaps forward in quality and refinement over the past few years, and comprises many models that outpace the 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara in areas that are of top concern to shoppers in this segment. Adding insult to injury, Suzuki has ceased new car sales in the United States after filing for bankruptcy.
The Grand Vitara isn't without its strengths. It boasts a generous standard features list, one that includes amenities -- such as Bluetooth, automatic climate control and a navigation system -- that are optional extras on rival models. It's also reasonably nimble off the beaten path, and this capacity for off-road adventuring is rare in this segment.
But this Suzuki has a fatal weakness: a puny four-cylinder engine that disappoints in terms of both power and fuel-efficiency. The engine struggles to motivate the SUV with any real authority, and while you'd think this would bring a fuel-economy payoff, the Grand Vitara's mileage ratings actually lag those of its chief rivals by a significant margin. Also, ride quality is coarse, and the SUV's overly firm seats take a toll on longer journeys.
When it comes to superior choices, just about anything will do. The 2013 Kia Sportage and 2013 Mazda CX-5 are both in the Grand Vitara's price range; the Sportage boasts an assertive exterior, while the CX-5 offers fuel economy and handling that are among the best in the segment. For a couple thousand more, you can get the superb, newly redesigned 2013 Ford Escape, and the Honda CR-V is also worth consideration.
While the affordable, feature-laden 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara offers decent value, in the end it's simply outgunned by the competition.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara is a compact crossover SUV that is offered in three trim levels: base, Premium and Limited. Standard features for the base model include 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, automatic climate control, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth with streaming audio, an integrated Garmin navigation system (includes voice commands, real-time traffic and a Google search function) and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The midrange Premium trim level includes all of the base model's features and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, heated mirrors (4WD models only) and cruise control.
The range-topping Limited model will get you 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, roof rack side rails, integrated turn signal mirrors, side chrome moldings, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, interior wood trim, heated front seats and a seven-speaker premium sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 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 four-wheel drive is offered on Premium models, and Limited models are available with a four-wheel-drive system that includes low-range gearing.
In Edmunds performance testing, a rear-drive Grand Vitara required 10.2 seconds to reach 60 mph, a slow time for this segment. EPA estimates for the Grand Vitara's fuel economy are relatively poor. Rear-drive models return an estimated 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with the automatic transmission, while 4WD models return 19/23/20.
The list of standard safety features on the 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara includes stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat side airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Grand Vitara needed only 110 feet to stop from 60 mph -- extraordinary performance for this type of vehicle.
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" for side impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
When it comes to gauge layout, the Grand Vitara's cabin mostly scores an "A" for functionality. Controls are well-placed and easily legible; the one exception is the removable navigation system, which can be hard to reach. The nav system's screen is also smaller than those seen in built-in units, and this can make it challenging to operate and read. To its credit, though, the nav system comes with a host of useful features, such as Pandora Internet radio, real-time traffic and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Overall, the cabin is attractive, but certain elements look dated relative to the more recently refreshed or redesigned cabins offered by most rivals. The interior is generously sized, with ample room for longer limbs, but there's a notable shortage of nooks and cubbyholes for toting smaller items like cell phones. Making room for larger items is easy, though, thanks to a cargo hold with 70.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down. That said, the rear door, which is hinged on the passenger side, can complicate curbside loading and unloading.
The 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara is adequate when it comes to getting to and from work and running daily errands, but on longer trips, its firm seats and somewhat unrefined ride quality can become taxing. The cabin remains mostly serene except at highway speeds, when road noise becomes an issue. Adding to the din is the vocal four-cylinder, which whines and groans as it struggles to motivate this Suzuki. Handling doesn't feel nearly as stable as the compact crossovers from Honda and Kia, and the overall ride quality isn't as carlike.