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By Jim Flammang
April 29, 2003
Vehicle Overview The Suzuki Vitara sport utility vehicle is closely related to the companys Grand Vitara. The compact Vitara is available as a two-door convertible or four-door hardtop. Unlike the Grand Vitara, it comes with a four-cylinder engine rather than a V-6. The Vitara is sold in a form that is similar to the Chevrolet Tracker, which has a V-6 engine available. The convertible Vitara is smaller than the hardtop and rides on a shorter wheelbase.
The Vitara and Tracker were designed by Suzuki and are built at a Canadian plant that the Japanese automaker shares with General Motors. The Vitara has been the weakest seller of Suzukis SUV trio, which also includes the larger XL-7. Only 7,947 Vitaras and 16,030 Grand Vitaras were sold during 2001, according to Automotive News.
Suzuki has not yet released details on changes for the 2003 Vitara. If a replacement arrives for 2004, it may be front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive (RWD).
Exterior The four-door Vitara measures 163 inches long overall on a 97.6-inch wheelbase; it is 11 inches longer in both dimensions than the two-door version. The convertible is nearly as wide and tall as the four-door model, and it has a manually folding canvas top over the rear seats. The spare tire is mounted on the tailgate, which opens to the right.
Unlike some other small SUVs, the Vitara is based on a truck chassis with separate body-on-frame construction. All models ride 16-inch tires.
While the Vitara convertible seats only four occupants, the four-door hardtop accommodates five. The rear seats are short on legroom in both body styles. Modest cargo space behind the hardtops rear seat can be expanded to nearly 45 cubic feet by folding down the split rear seat; the convertible has 34 cubic feet of cargo room.
The convertible comes standard with air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a tachometer, a CD player, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. The hardtop adds cruise control, remote keyless entry, a rear defogger, and a rear wiper and washer.
Under the Hood
All Vitara models pack a 127-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Both RWD and four-wheel drive (4WD) are available. The 4WD system has a Low range and is intended for use only on slippery surfaces.
Daytime running lights are standard. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are not available.