Review: 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2012.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Some still think Suzuki sells only motorcycles, but it makes an array of competent vehicles, including its 2007 Grand Vitara compact SUV.
The Grand Vitara seemingly has been with us nearly forever, although it was introduced in 1999. It was redesigned for 2006 and became much larger than the 1999-2005 version, gaining 6 inches in wheelbase and 11 inches in overall length.
The new model was welcomed, as sales rose to 26,931 units in 2006 from 8,624 in 2005. That's a drop in the bucket for larger Japanese auto producers, but Suzuki is a much smaller outfit. Its resale values thus don't match those of better-known rivals.
Better AWD System
The Grand Vitara always has been pretty good during off-road jaunts, and the low-range gearing helps a lot during rugged off-road driving; it allows this Suzuki to crawl over big rocks and just about anything else.
I drove the first-generation Grand Vitara AWD model for several miles in a shallow river in a national sprawling Missouri park and easily climbed up a steep hill from the water and onto a rough trail, which the vehicle also attacked with aplomb.
However, one need not to travel off-road to appreciate the Grand Vitara. It's handsome and has an unusually roomy rear seat, which isn't the case with some other compact SUVs.
Stronger Engine Needed
The engine works with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed automatic, which was in my test Grand Vitara. The automatic is responsive, but has a notchy gear selector—probably to prevent a driver from entering the wrong gear if the selector is moved too quickly.
Estimated fuel economy with rear-wheel drive or AWD and the manual is 18 and 23. It's 19 and 24 with rear-wheel drive and the automatic and 19 and 23 with the automatic and AWD.
All trim levels have a good amount of standard equipment. The Base version has air conditioning with automatic climate control, tilt steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, split folding rear seat, rear wiper/washer and power mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry.
The Base AWD version adds a 2-speed transfer case, locking center differential and heated mirrors.
The Xsport rear-wheel-drive trim level adds an AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer. The AWD version adds the same extra items as the Base AWD trim level.
I drove the top-line Luxury AWD Grand Vitara. Its standard items include leather upholstery, heated front seats, power sunroof and larger tires. That equipment seems surprising, considering rather bare-bones earlier Grand Vitaras. But buyers in all vehicle segments keep demanding more upscale items.
Key Safety Features
Steering is quick, and the turning radius is tight. There is some body lean when taking curves quickly, but handling is stable. The ride is firm, but supple. Braking distances are acceptable, although the pedal is rather soft.
Gauges in the modern, generally quiet interior are backlit to make them easy to read under various lighting conditions. Occupants sit high, and front seats provide good side support during sudden moves and in curves.
Climate controls are large, but audio system controls are both large and small. There is some hard plastic in the interior, but its materials don't look cheap.
Generous Cargo Room
The Grand Vitara offers lots of value and is worth a hard look, although it's not near the top of many SUV shopping lists.