Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara Overview
Suzuki has been in the mini-SUV market longer than just about any other manufacturer on this list. In fact, technically, the introduction of the Suzuki Samurai in 1986 kicked off the wave of "Japanese Jeeps" that have since flooded the U.S. market. Though today's competition is tougher, Suzuki has managed to stay in the game, partly by offering options unavailable on the competition and partially by providing GM with a slightly altered and rebadged Vitara known as the Chevrolet Tracker. To best avoid any redundancy, our review of the Vitara and Grand Vitara applies equally to the Tracker and Tracker LS respectively.
The base-model Vitara is available in both two-door convertible and four-door hardtop and comes in 2- or 4-wheel drive layouts. The standard engine in the two-door model is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder producing 97 horsepower. Optional on the two-door and standard on the four door is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that bumps horsepower to 127. While this engine is obviously a better choice for the smaller and lighter convertible, it is still too weak for the larger four-door Vitara. The power problem is further compounded when 4-wheel drive and automatic transmission are added to the mix. Inside, occupants will find accommodations for four adults and some gear, but in the real world, two adults and two children would be much more comfortable. Interior space is smaller than most in this group, but with the rear seat folded, you can still pack the average college student off to the dorms in one trip. The seats are comfortable to sit in, but are not very wide and some may find them too snug with the seatbelts fastened. The dash design is simple and straightforward but the quality and color of the plastics leave room for improvement.
On the road, the Vitara's body-on-frame construction becomes apparent. The ride can get downright jittering on washboard surfaces and too much noise and vibration make their way into the passenger compartment. On the flip side, this same construction makes the Vitara an excellent off-road performer, especially when equipped with larger tires and the optional skid-plate protection package.
If your budget is not too tight, you may want to consider the Grand Vitara. While sharing the same basic platform, body panels and dashboard as the base Vitara, the Grand adds upgraded wheels, body cladding, a longer list of standard and optional interior upgrades and best of all, a 2.5-liter V6 engine. Though the V6 produces 155-horsepower, the Grand Vitara is no faster than the 4-cylinder RAV4 and CR-V. The larger engine is geared more towards producing torque, which it does quiet well. Like the base Vitara, the Grand Vitara can be ordered with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.
Prices for both the Vitara and Grand Vitara as well as the Tracker and Tracker LS are competitive with the rest of the field. The Suzuki models offer a wide variety of trim levels and upgrades including a new Limited Edition for the Grand Vitara.