Motivation for the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara comes from a 2.7-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve, aluminum V6 pushing 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. A five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission directs power to the rear axle or to all four wheels through a full-time four-wheel-drive system complete with a two-speed transfer case and self-locking hubs. The Grand Vitara’s curb weight ranges from 3,452 to 3,682 pounds, guided by rack-and-pinion steering and supported by a MacPherson strut front suspension with a multi-link setup in the rear. Front vented discs and rear drums slow things down, and the Grand Vitara comes standard with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, and stability control.
Besides the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, buyers of the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara also need to decide which trim level they’d like: base, Premium, XSport, or Luxury. Starting at $19,594 including a $595 destination charge, a two-wheel-drive base model features a manual transmission, 16-inch steel wheels rolling on 225/70 tires, cruise control, tilt steering, climate control, CD and MP3 players, power windows and locks, steering wheel radio controls, front-side airbags, and side-curtain airbags. Options include the automatic tranny and 16-inch alloy wheels. Rear-wheel-drive Premium versions carry a $20,594 base price and include the 16-inch alloys, a hard exterior spare tire cover, an upgraded sound system with a six-disc CD changer and a subwoofer, roof rails, rear privacy glass, front fog lights, and a rear spoiler. Moving up to the Grand Vitara XSport packs on the automatic transmission, keyless entry, heated exterior mirrors, unique fender flares, and a $21,994 sticker price. Finally, the Luxury starts at $23,894 and ups the content quotient with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander 225/65 tires, leather upholstery, a power moonroof, heated front seats, a remote garage door opener, silver interior accents, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Four-wheel-drive capability is available on all models for $1,100 - $1,400.
Our evaluation was based on a four-wheel-drive 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara Luxury model that sells for $25,294, which means this Azure Gray tester was fully loaded. Over the course of a week and hundreds of miles, we had a chance to discover all this ‘ute had and didn’t have to offer by hitting some gnarly off-road trails and using it as our daily driver, all of which resulted in a somewhat disappointing 19.3-mpg average.