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Suzuki Grand Vitara

Review

REVIEW

First Drive: 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD

Hanging On to True SUV Roots

Erick AyapanaDec 27, 2011
While most compact SUVs and crossovers in the market today are considered as comfortable grocery getters, the 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara is touted as a go-anywhere 4x4. But we have to wonder, is it as capable as other 4x4s offered by Suzuki in the past?
Photo 2/17
Gen Xers might recall the Suzuki Samurai, the cheap, small, and scrappy 4x4 that still enjoys a cult following. It's not uncommon to spot hardcore off-road enthusiasts piloting Samurais heavily modified with engine swaps, suspension lifts, and bigger tires keeping pace with Wranglers and Land Cruisers. Today, the niche automaker's lone SUV offering is the Grand Vitara, Suzuki's attempt to combine "real" SUV elements from the Samurai with carlike qualities found in today's top-selling small crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. For example, the Grand Vitara is constructed with a truck-like frame, yet rides on a carlike, fully independent suspension. And like a real SUV, its engine is mounted longitudinally, sending power to the rear or all four wheels.
Photo 3/17
We last tested a two-wheel drive Grand Vitara back in December 2009, but this time around we had a full-time four-wheel-drive model in for evaluation. Our tester was an Ultimate Adventure Edition, which sits right in the middle of a three-tiered ladder in terms of content and price. The package includes 18-inch, smoked alloy wheels that complement the simple exterior styling. And while the current body style debuted about five years ago, many staffers think the Grand Vitara still is a handsome hauler.
The aptly named Ultimate Adventure package features an interior just begging for mud, with synthetic, water-resistant seats that are easy to clean and look good, too. Overall, the cabin isn't a bad place. Passengers are treated to automatic climate control, soft-touch plastics where it counts (upper door trims and center armrest), and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons. Also included is a portable Garmin navigation system with Bluetooth, which did a fine job giving directions, but failed to pair with my Blackberry. The no-frills audio system has an auxiliary jack and available satellite radio, but it also wasn't a fan of my smartphone. The two were constantly interfering with each other, transmitting incessant, high-pitched buzzes through the speaker.
Photo 10/17
Electronic buzzing aside, the cabin was fairly quiet at low highway speeds and the independent suspension kept the ride smooth. At speeds over 70 mph, however, the Grand Vitara did its best impression of someone with two left feet, struggling to travel in a straight line while exhibiting some strange lateral movements. We're not sure if this is endemic with all Grand Vitaras or specific to our tester, but it required the driver's full attention. Grand tourer it is not. Like the rear drive tester we drove a few years ago, this one is powered by the same 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 166 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque mated to a four-speed automatic. The powertrain is tolerable during leisurely jaunts around town or on the highway, but it's a different story if you're in a hurry. Upshifts are slow, but downshifts seem to take an eternity, and magnify its deficient and outdated powertrain. Among its competitors, the 2012 Honda CR-V has a 19-hp advantage with a five-speed auto, while the 2012 Ford Escape four-banger produces 5 more horses but sends power to an efficient six-speed gearbox. The Grand Vitara's four-banger was introduced during the 2009 refresh alongside a 3.2-liter, 230-hp V-6 mated to a five-speed auto. Unfortunately, that engine has since been discontinued. Not surprisingly, fuel economy is also below average, with an EPA rating of 19 mpg city and 23 highway. During its weeklong stay, we averaged about 20 mpg which, again, is likely due to the archaic gearbox.
Photo 11/17
We decided against taking this tester on the trails, since it didn't have the center-locking differential found on the range-topping Limited model. The locking diff isn't available on the Ultimate Adventure, which is a shame since its interior is more suited for treks on the trail than the Limited model's. The Limited costs about $1300 more, but nets you real leather seats and a moonroof, a bargain if you want a more luxurious SUV. However, the 4WD Limited's base price just north of $26,000 puts it within a grand or two of more capable, V-6-powered rock crawlers like the Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
As it stands, the Grand Vitara is in limbo between comfy crossover and tough truck. It has the potential to excel being at either one, but it's not quite there. While this second-gen Grand Vitara is a definitely improvement over the first, Suzuki has an opportunity to make the third-gen Grand Vitara even better. With the market already crowded with car-based cute utes, why not channel the scrappy Samurai and offer a bargain basement off-roader for the masses?
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2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,949
19 / 26
2.4L I4
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2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,649
19 / 26
2.4L I4
VIEW ALL SPECIFICATIONS
See all Photos, Ratings, Pricing and Specifications
Truck Trend truck reviews
First Drive: 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD
While most compact SUVs and crossovers in the market today are considered as comfortable grocery getters, the 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara is touted as a go-anywhere 4x4. But we have to wonder, is it as capable as other 4x4s offered by Suzuki in the past?
Erick AyapanaDec 27, 2011

2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,999
19 / 26
2.4L I4
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Truck Trend news
Recall: Suzuki's Grand Vitara Four-cylinder Engines Could Contain a Defective Tensioner Spring
Suzuki issues a recall on 2009-2011 Suzuki Grand Vitaras with four-cylinder engines due to a defective accessory belt tensioner pulley that can cause serious problems.
Evan McCauslandFeb 7, 2011
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Suzuki Grand Vitara Updated for 2011, Equator Unchanged
Suzuki has updated the Grand Vitara for the 2011 model year, but the Equator is unchanged for 2011.
Zach GaleOct 25, 2010
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2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara Photo Gallery: What's New For 2011
Click here to see photos for the 2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara compact SUV and check out what's new for 2011!
Courtesy of the ManufacturerOct 25, 2010

2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,099
19 / 26
2.4L I4
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Truck Trend news
193,936 Suzuki Grand Vitaras Recalled for Airbag Issue
Suzuki may have stopped selling new cars in North America, but that doesn’t mean it’s leaving its former customers hanging out to dry. The small Japanese automakers has announced a recall of 193,936 2006-2011 Suzuki Grand Vitaras
Christian SeabaughSep 18, 2013
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OTC Students Transform 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara into Nifty Nautical Ride
Students at Ohio Technical College are combing the best of both the land and sea to create a nifty nautical themed 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara that blends the brand's automotive and marine divisions. The car-and-boat hybrid will debut at the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas in early November.
Karla SanchezAug 9, 2011
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Recall: Suzuki's Grand Vitara Four-cylinder Engines Could Contain a Defective Tensioner Spring
Suzuki issues a recall on 2009-2011 Suzuki Grand Vitaras with four-cylinder engines due to a defective accessory belt tensioner pulley that can cause serious problems.
Evan McCauslandFeb 7, 2011
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Recall Alert: 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara and Equator For Overheating Garmin Nav Systems
Garmin Nuvi 750, 760, and 765 navigation systems have batteries that can overheat in 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara and Equators.
Zach GaleSep 7, 2010
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Suzuki Celebrates Samurai and 25 Years in U.S.
Suzuki is celebrating twenty-five years of selling vehicles in the U.S. this August. After the now-classic Samurai hit our shores in August 1985, it was joined by the Sidekick SUV and Swift subcompact.
Zach GaleAug 26, 2010
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Suzuki Brings Back Free Gas Incentive Program for Third Year Running
or the third consecutive summer, Suzuki is holding its Free Gas for Summer sales program, which furnishes Suzuki buyers with prepaid gas cards.
Benson KongApr 29, 2010

2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,799
19 / 26
2.4L I4
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Truck Trend news
Recall: Suzuki's Grand Vitara Four-cylinder Engines Could Contain a Defective Tensioner Spring
Suzuki issues a recall on 2009-2011 Suzuki Grand Vitaras with four-cylinder engines due to a defective accessory belt tensioner pulley that can cause serious problems.
Evan McCauslandFeb 7, 2011
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Suzuki Presents “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D” in IMAX; Costarring the Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki, in conjunction with Quiksilver and Tahiti Tourisme, is presenting “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D” in IMAX next month costarring the Suzuki Grand Vitara.
Benson KongJan 27, 2010
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First Drive: 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara
800 Miles in One of the Last Real Compact SUVs - It seems someone at Suzuki was listening. The Grand Vitara has been freshened for 2009, with the biggest difference being under the hood.
Scott EvansDec 19, 2008
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Pricing Announced on 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara and All-New Equator
Suzuki has announced pricing for their 2009 Grand Vitara SUV and all-new Equator pickup truck.
Scott EvansDec 10, 2008
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2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara Gets All-New Power
Suzuki's given its 2009 Grand Vitara a minor update in style and a major update under the hood.
Editors of Truck TrendDec 3, 2008

2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,499
16 / 22
2.7L V6
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Quick Drive: 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport 2WD
One of the last remaining bona fide compact SUVs
Kirill OugarovMay 16, 2008
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2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport 2WD Quick Drive
One of the last remaining bona fide compact SUVs
Kirill OugarovMay 14, 2008
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Auto News: Suzuki's 2008 Grand Vitara - An Authentic SUV
With its powerful go-anywhere standard V6 engine, available Four-Mode full time four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case, reinforced unibody chassis with built-in ladder frame and 3,000 lbs towing capacity, it's clear the Grand Vitara was built for the life enthusiast's "Way of Life."
Oct 12, 2007

2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,379
16 / 22
2.7L V6
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2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$19,199
N/A
2.7L V6
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Recalled: 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara and 2005-2006 XL-7 For Deteriorating Pulley
Suzuki is calling back the Grand Vitara and XL-7 for deteriorating drive belt tension adjuster pulleys.
Carlos LagoJun 15, 2010
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Road Test: 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara
Expanding from motorcycles to automobiles worked for Honda--why can't it work for Suzuki?
Todd LassaApr 24, 2006

2005 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,399
N/A
2.5L V6
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2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,199
N/A
2.5L V6
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Road Test: 2004 Jeep Liberty Limited vs. 2004 Kia Sorento EX vs. 2004 Suzuki XL-7 EX III
Got dirt? Then don't buy a small, car-based, all-wheel-drive sport/utility crossover demi-wagon thingy. Nobody with true trail experience would consider one of them a true 4x4 sport/utility.
Chris WaltonMar 5, 2004

2003 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,599
19 / 22
2.5L V6
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2002 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,599
19 / 22
2.5L V6
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2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,399
19 / 22
2.5L V6
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2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$18,299
19 / 22
2.5L V6
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1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara

SPECIFICATIONS
$17,999
19 / 22
2.5L V6
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1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara Road Test
Tough tyke of the sport/cute class.
Jeff BartlettDec 19, 2003
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Road Test: 1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX+
Although we nicknamed it the "Grand Viagra," this little Suzuki still receives regular staff criticism for its less than stimulating acceleration.
Jeff BartlettMay 15, 1999
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