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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.
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.