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Small SUV sales are hot, but there is little reason the Vitara should be contributing to mini-ute sales growth charts unless somebody out there really wants a convertible SUV and can't afford a Jeep Wrangler.
Truck-based frame and driveline, two-door convertible option.
Harsh ride, lack of cargo space.
Available Vitara Models
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Four-door models receive a new luggage cover for 2000. The Vitara two-door JLS/JLX is equipped with air conditioning as standard equipment. There are three new paint colors, and four-wheel-drive models have a "4x4" sticker in the rear-quarter windows.
Now in its second year of production, the Suzuki Vitara competes in the increasingly crowded mini-SUV market. Here, you will find vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, and the Kia Sportage.
The Vitara comes in two variations: a two-door soft top and a four-door model. Both are built on a trucklike ladder frame and both can be ordered with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive system features a two-speed transfer case (as found in real trucks), which improves performance in extreme off-highway conditions. An independent MacPherson strut front suspension and five-link coil-spring rear suspension is used throughout the Vitara line.
Powering the rear wheels is either a 1.6-liter or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The smaller engine produces 97 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 103 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. The larger 2.0-liter engine generates 127 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 134 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. Both engines are mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic transmission.
The styling of the Vitara is clean with smooth curves and rounded features. The front end features large, multi-reflector headlights and a monotone grille. The two-door Vitara allows you to fold back the durable, canvas drop top like a sunroof, or take it completely off to get your daily dose of solar radiation. The two-door soft-top model does lack valuable room for cargo, however. Suzuki says there's only 9.9 cubic feet of space for your stuff. If you fold the rear seat down, that number goes to 33.7. The four-door model does slightly better, with a maximum cargo load of 44.6. A Honda CR-V, by comparison, can hold a maximum cargo load of 67.2 cubic feet.
The truck genes found in the Suzuki Vitara might appeal to those of you that have a big desire to pound the dirt. But if that's really the case, you'd probably be better served with a Jeep Wrangler. On all other fronts, the Vitara competes dismally against other mini SUVs. You also might want to price out the Chevrolet Tracker. Both the Vitara and the Tracker are built at the same assembly plant and are nearly identical underneath and Chevy often provides big rebates to move the metal.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.