Then came the nineties, and it all went cold and silent. There was the forgettable X-90, and the Sidekick was replaced with the Vitara and the Grand Vitara – which was, at the time, anything but grand. As the world filled up with “utility” vehicles built to cross parking stripes and climb driveways, Suzukis became sad echoes, chasing the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and others into the oncoming tide of the suburbanite SUV wave.
That cold silence ends with the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara. And the cheering, however faint in its Whoville way, can begin once again. Here, finally, is a five-seat SUV from Suzuki that does the things an SUV should do, namely go off road and, at the same time, provide a pleasant on-road driving experience with adequate power and plenty of room. Granted, there are many small suvs from which to choose, and many do one thing or another better than the new Grand Vitara. For instance, every Grand Vitara comes with a V6 engine that doesn’t get great gas mileage and which also drives whiny and without much authority at times. But the Grand Vitara is priced competitively, even at the base model where the engine outstrips its rivals in terms of horsepower. Plus, it is well equipped and carries one of the best warranties going. Few small SUVs do as many things right as the Grand Vitara, especially if you want an SUV that can be at once civilized and, at a moment’s notice, bawdy – in a dirty and muddy sort of way.