Suzuki’s 2010 Grand Vitara strikes the right balance when it comes to dimensions. The benefits of this sensible sizing of a Sport Utility Vehicle are evident the minute that you slide inside.
The two-row cabin seats five — and 6 footers can fit in either row. Cargo is similarly well covered. Grand Vitara holds a generous, 24.9 cubic feet of gear in back with capacity expandable to 68.9 cu.-ft. when you fold down the split rear seats.
You access the cargo bay via side-swinging door, hinged unfortunately, on the right-hand side. When you parallel park curbside you may find yourself wishing that Suzuki had put the hinge on the left-hand side. That arrangement would make it easier to get your belongings from car to curb in tight quarters, without having to clear the open door. Visibility is good, and happily absent are the blind spots that plague many SUVs.
Grand Vitara is offered in four trim levels with the base price starting at $18,999. The standard feature list on all models includes a Garmin navigation system. Housed in a pop-up holster on topside, center dash, it’s a fairly intuitive unit, and a handy feature, to be sure. But, the unit is just far enough away and the letters on the touch screen keyboard are just small enough to be a tough target to hit from the driver’s seat.
Two engines are offered for 2010. The four-cylinder motor displaces 2.4 liters and generates 166 horsepower.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 19 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway (4×4 automatic transmission); 19/26 mpg (4×2 manual transmission).
The 2010 Grand Vitara Limited test vehicle was a 4×4, powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. It’s rated at 230 horsepower and 215 lb.-ft. of torque. The Suzuki feels well powered with the six, accelerating smoothly from a stop and cruising easily at speed. The EPA says Grand Vitara V-6 will return 17 mpg city and 23 mpg on the highway. In a week behind the wheel of mixed driving (weighted heavier on the highway side), I averaged 18.5 mpg overall.
Grand Vitara can be had with rear-wheel-drive or a choice of single or Four Mode 4×4 systems. My Limited, V-6 test truck was priced $26,999 and came equipped with the Four Mode 4×4 system. The two-speed transfer case provides low-range gearing for off-road use and other situations where low-speed traction is needed.
In 4High Mode, power will be channeled to the front and rear wheels as needed to enhance traction. Switching between modes is a simple matter of twisting the dash-mounted dial. Grand Vitara has a 7.9-inch ground clearance, and angles of approach/breakover/departure are 29/19/27 degrees, respectively. Grand Vitara with the V-6 engine is rated to tow 3,000 pounds.
Grand Vitara V-6 Four Mode 4×4 models are fitted with additional features designed to enhance off-road travel.
Hill Hold Control allows the driver to start out on an incline without rollback. Hill Descent Control helps keep the SUV moving at a steady, slow speed, when going down a slope, without the need for driver pedal input. This frees the driver up to concentrate on steering.
Other electronics are along for the ride to keep the vehicle tracking true in on-road situations. Electronic Stability Control is standard across the model range as is a rollover sensor for the side curtain airbags.
Some recreational vehicle owners like to tow a vehicle behind them. Grand Vitara with automatic transmission or Four Mode 4×4 models can be flat-towed. Switching transfer case controls to neutral minimizes driveline wear and prevents towed miles from registering on the odometer.
Grand Vitara wraps on-road refinement and off-road capability in an attractive package. Size-wise, the Suzuki SUV hits the mark. It’s big enough to be useful, yet not so big that it’s tough to park, or hard to maneuver. — Dan Lyons, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010