The burly Grand Vitara combines off-road ability -- long a Suzuki hallmark -- with surprising refinement. A ladder-frame-reinforced unibody and optional four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case ensure mudding credibility (although the full-size spare tire will be restricted to the Limited trim level in early 2012), and the independent suspension makes on-road handling more carlike. The Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 still have smoother engines and ride quality, but the Grand Vitara beats them off-road, where it is overshadowed perhaps only by some Jeep products. This generation of the Grand Vitara began life with a 2.7-liter V-6, which was later swapped for a General Motors-sourced 3.2-liter V-6. That engine was dropped for 2011, though, because of a "heightened interest in on-road efficiency," according to Suzuki. For 2012, a more rugged trim level -- the Ultimate Adventure Edition -- will wear sharp smoked-chrome wheels, sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals, and foglamps as well as water-resistant seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Grand Vitara is a legitimate choice in the popular cute-ute category, and its high content (including a standard navigation system with Bluetooth), numerous standard safety features, low price, and strong warranty make it a bargain, too.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: Grand Vitara, Premium,
Ultimate Adventure Edition, Limited
Body style: SUV, 5-passenger
Engine: 2.4L I-4, 166 hp, 162 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
passenger volume: 108.6-111.1 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 3000 lb; cargo (rear seats
up/down) 28.4/70.8 cu ft
A new model, the Ultimate Adventure Edition, will be available on two- and four-wheel-drive Grand Vitaras for 2012. It sports sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals, smoked-chrome wheels, and foglamps, as well as water-resistant seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also, starting around January 2012, all Grand Vitaras besides the top-trim Limited models will lose the rear-mounted spare tire in favor of a tire-inflation kit.
Dual-stage front, front side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and tire-pressure monitors are standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 119 mpg city/23-26 mpg highway
- Excellent off-road
- Very good on-road
- Navigation standard
You Won't Like
- V-6 engine no longer offered
- Not getting any younger
The gritty cute-ute.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Jeep Liberty
- Honda CR-V
- Mitsubishi Outlander
- Toyota RAV4