Vehicle Overview
The four-door Suzuki Grand Vitara is similar in size and appearance to the automaker’s Vitara V6 sport utility vehicle, but the larger version comes with a selection of additional features. The Grand Vitara has a V-6 engine rather than the regular Vitara’s four-cylinder, but a V-6 will be offered for 2004 to power the lower-priced Vitara V6.

For the 2004 model year, the Grand Vitara gets restyled headlights and taillights, as well as new silver roof rails and color-keyed door handles. The remote keyless entry system will feature a new panic button.

The Grand Vitara comes in a single trim level and is offered with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Even though it has been more popular than the Vitara, Suzuki’s newer and larger XL-7, which can seat up to seven people, outsells the Grand Vitara.

The SUV measures 164.5 inches long overall, 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. A new hard spare-tire cover is installed for 2004.

Unlike some other small SUVs, the Grand Vitara is based on a truck chassis with separate body-on-frame construction. All versions ride on 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The Grand Vitara holds five people on front bucket seats and a split, folding rear seat. Modest cargo space behind the backseat can be expanded from 23.4 to 50.2 cubic feet by folding the seatback down.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning with micron air filtration, an in-dash CD player with seven-speaker sound, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Heated mirrors, except on the two-wheel-drive LX model, are new for 2004.

Under the Hood
The Grand Vitara runs on a 165-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 162 pounds-feet of torque and teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available. Suzuki’s four-wheel-drive system includes a Low range that is intended for use only on slippery surfaces.

Antilock brakes are optional. Daytime running lights are installed on all models.

Driving Impressions
Other than a somewhat choppy ride when the pavement is imperfect, the Grand Vitara is reasonably appealing but not necessarily above any competitors. Performance from the V-6 and automatic transmission is satisfactory but not exceptional. This SUV is moderately energetic, but it’s no powerhouse when extra zest is needed for passing. Automatic-transmission shifts are noticeable but not bothersome.

The around-town ride isn’t bad. The Grand Vitara copes rather adroitly with bumps, and despite a firm suspension, it’s not as bouncy as some rivals. Handling also ranks around the SUV average. The Grand Vitara grabs corners quite confidently and steers with a rather light feel and good response.

The interior is more spacious than it appears at a glance, but the driver’s left-elbow space is a little tight. Backseat legroom is minimal when the front seat is moved rearward. Cargo space behind the backseat is moderate, and the cargo cover doesn’t conceal the entire area.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for;
Posted on 8/27/03