Though the Grand Vitara is similar in size and appearance to Suzukis Vitara, it carries a V-6 engine instead of a four-cylinder and has a selection of additional features. Only a four-door hardtop is available, unlike the regular Vitara, which also comes as a two-door convertible.
For 2002, output from the Grand Vitaras 2.5-liter V-6 engine rises to 165 horsepower. A fender-mounted antenna and LATCH child-safety seat tethers are new this year, and the JLS version gains antilock brakes. The JLS and JLX models get privacy glass, and heated mirrors are featured on four-wheel-drive models. The Plus model is no longer available. The top-of-the-line Grand Vitara is called the Limited.
Measuring 164.5 inches long overall, the four-door Grand Vitara rides a 97.6-inch wheelbase and stands nearly 68 inches tall. The spare tire is mounted on the tailgate, which opens to the right. Unlike some other small sport utility vehicles, the Grand Vitara is based on a truck chassis with separate body-on-frame construction, and all trims ride on 16-inch tires.
The Grand Vitara holds five occupants on front buckets and a split, folding rear seat. Modest cargo space behind the rear seat can be expanded to nearly 45 cubic feet by folding the seatback down. Limited models are equipped with leather seating and a sunroof.
Under the Hood
The Grand Vitara uses a 165-hp, 2.5-liter V-6 engine that teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available. Suzukis 4WD system includes a Low range that is intended for use only on slippery surfaces. Antilock brakes are standard on most models, while daytime running lights are standard on all models.
Except for a somewhat choppy ride on the highway when the pavement is imperfect, the Grand Vitara is an appealing vehicle if not necessarily a step above any of the competition. Performance from the V-6 and automatic transmission is satisfactory, but not exceptional. It is moderately energetic, but its no powerhouse when extra zest is needed for passing. Automatic-transmission shifts are noticeable, but not bothersome. Around town, the ride isnt bad; the Grand Vitara copes rather adroitly over bumps despite a firm suspension. Its not as bouncy as some rivals.
Handling also ranks around the SUV average. The Grand Vitara is quite easy to drive, it corners quite confidently, and it steers with a rather light feel and good response. The interior is more spacious than it appears at a glance, but the drivers left-elbow space is a little tight. Backseat legroom is minimal if the front seat is moved rearward. Cargo space behind the backseat is moderate, and the cargo cover does not conceal the entire area, but its easy to load. Seat bottoms are very short but not uncomfortable, though longer drives could be more taxing.