June 19, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 24 June 2010 12:36
Destined though it may be for niche status, Suzuki’s redesigned compact crossover SUV is an interesting choice that offers features unavailable elsewhere.
What sets the Grand Vitara apart is … well, a lot of things set the Grand Vitara apart. Start with the tailgate that’s hinged on the right, rather than on top. Not everyone likes this feature because it juts out into traffic in mall parking lots and interferes with loading items in the rear when the car is parallel-parked on the street. On the other hand, this design makes it possible to close the tailgate using your elbow or hip, something you can’t accomplish with a swing-up tailgate.Then there’s the navigation system, unique to Suzuki. A conventional Garmin hand-held navigation unit swings up from the dashboard. It’s easier to operate than many of the more expensive units we’ve used. And it’s standard equipment on all 2010 Grand Vitaras, even the base model.
The third major difference is the drive system. Most compact crossovers are geared for light duty, with or without all-wheel drive. Our Grand Vitara Limited’s standard-equipment list included full-time four-wheel drive with high and low range, as well as hill-hold and hill-descent control. With those features, plus a ladder frame, 18-inch wheels and 7.9 inches of ground clearance, few if any vehicles in this segment can match its off-road prowess.
The base Grand Vitara starts at $19,099, compared with $27,653 for our silver Limited. It’s a different animal, with a four-cylinder engine, five-speed standard transmission, 16-inch wheels and rear-wheel drive. But it’s not sparsely equipped: power windows and remote door locks, automatic climate control, audio controls on the steering hub, antilock brakes, and of course the navigation unit.
The Japanese-built Grand Vitara comes in 10 trim levels, each with a long tally of standard features and a very short options list. Buyers can opt for rear-wheel or all-wheel drive with either engine choice, but the stick shift is available only on the base model with rear-wheel drive.
The 230-horsepower V-6 packs some punch in this 3,876-pound car. It’s a smooth, quiet and moderately fuel-efficient engine rated at 17 mpg in the city, 23 highway. We averaged 22.4 mpg in mostly highway driving.
Although not particularly noisy, the Grand Vitara rides firmly. Handling is somewhat rubbery but secure, as we noticed when circling a long ramp off Interstate 84 in central Connecticut. The car leaned heavily enough to unnerve the passenger, but the driver felt fully in control.
Based on past surveys, Suzuki’s new models, including the redesigned Grand Vitara and the Kizashi midsize sedan, should be reliable. They come with a seven-year, 100,000-mile drive-train warranty.
The Grand Vitara achieved four-star ratings in frontal crash tests and five stars for side-impact crashes.
The Grand Vitara isn’t as smooth, refined, aggressively styled and slick-handling as its competitors in the crowded compact-SUV market, but it does have two things going for it: It’s more rugged than most. And it’s different.
Engine: 3.2-liter V-6, 230 horsepower, 213 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 5-speed shiftable automatic
Drive: all-wheel with high and low range gearing
Weight: 3,876 lb.
Ground clearance: 7.9 in.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double-wishbone rear
Wheels: 18-inch alloy
Tires: P225/60R18 all season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 26.6 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 67 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 3,000 lb.
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular
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