By Duane Pemberton
Suzuki website: http://www.suzukiauto.com/
The Suzuki Grand Vitara is a mid-sized, all-wheel-drive SUV that is built in a very utilitarian fashion that should cater to the outdoor enthusiast. It’s small overall dimensions not only mean it’ll fit into trails that full-size SUVs often cant but also means a reduction in weight that results in added fuel savings.
The engine is a 2.4-Litre 4-cylinder that pumps out 166hp and 162 lb-ft. of torque – powering a full-time 4×4 SUV, this powerplant comes across as being quite a bit under-powered for a vehicle of this weight. It’s mated to a CVT 4-speed automatic. It’s okay for off-road, where you don’t need a ton of power but can prove a bit on the painful side if you’re trying to pass someone on the freeway or even for those times when you need to hurry to pick up some wine before the tasting room closes.
With seat material that is totally water-proof and rubber floor mats, this is a rig that is begging for mud. Even though it’s not the leather package, I found the interior of this model to actually be far more appropriate for the intended use of a 4×4 SUV like this. I mean, who wants to get cloth floor mats and leather upholstery all dirty?
There are plenty of creature-comforts inside, including a good-sounding audio system that does have an auxillary audio input jack but unfortunately no USB ports. It will play back CD’s encoded with mp3 or WMA and also features satellite radio support as well.
Perhaps one of the coolest features inside is also rather unique to this vehicle and that’s the inclusion of a removable Garmin GPS unit that supports Bluetooth connectivity to your cell phone, among other things. How handy is it to have a GPS device that snaps in and out to take with you? I think it’s a brilliant idea and one that I hope other manufacturers condsider implementing in their own cars as well.
Ride quality is good and supportive in day to day handling – it seems to have a good balance between stiff and subtle. Even on longer trips, I didn’t ever feel “worn-out” – the seats are supportive but could use more adjustments. The suspension felt very appropriate to this class of SUV – overall a good experience in that regard.
The only real drivetrain control the driver has is the ability to disengage traction control, other than that there is no various modes you can select from – the vehicle just automatically adjusts itself to whatever it “thinks” needs to be done.
Overall, for the money, this is a solid little SUV that should be on your consideration if you’re in the market for a rig like this – it gets decent fuel economy, will wash-out very easily and looks good all in doing so.
If this car was a bottle of wine, I’d liken it to a bottle of Chilean Carmenere – it has enough “spice” to make it interesting and is rather affordable.