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By Jim Flammang
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview The Suzuki Vitara sport utility vehicle is closely related to the companys Grand Vitara. In the past, the compact Vitara has been available as a shorter-length two-door convertible or a larger four-door hardtop, but the convertible has been dropped for 2004. At the same time, the Vitara four-door gets a name change to Vitara V6. Thats because the previous four-cylinder engine has been abandoned, and a 165-horsepower V-6 engine powers the 2004 Vitara V6.
Installing the V-6 engine brings the Vitara V6 closer in performance and capabilities to the more costly Grand Vitara, which comes with a greater level of equipment. Antilock brakes, for example, have not been offered on the regular Vitara. Available in a single trim level with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, the Vitara V6 is similar to the Chevrolet Tracker, which has had a V-6 engine available all along.
The Vitara V6 and its Tracker equivalent 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.
Styling touches on the upgraded Vitara V6 include charcoal-colored bumpers and fender flares with integrated mudguards. The four-door Vitara V6 measures 163 inches long overall on a 97.6-inch wheelbase; with four-wheel drive, it stands 65.8 inches tall. The SUV rides 16-inch tires, and the spare tire is mounted on the tailgate, which opens to the right. A newly designed soft spare-tire cover is installed this year. Unlike some other small SUVs, the Vitara V6 is based on a truck chassis with separate body-on-frame construction.
Five people can squeeze into the Vitara V6, but the rear seat is short on legroom. Modest cargo space behind the rear seat can be expanded from 23.4 to 50.2 cubic feet by folding down the split rear seat. Standard equipment includes air conditioning with micron air filtration, a tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry, cruise control, an in-dash CD player, and power windows, locks and mirrors.
Under the Hood
The four-cylinder engine offered in the past for the regular Vitara is gone. The 2004 Vitara V6 carries a 2.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 165 hp and 162 pounds-feet of torque. The engine teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive models are available. The four-wheel-drive 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.