Northwest NEWS

May 29, 2000

Features

Suzuki Grand Vitara

Test Drive: Suzuki Grand Vitara

   The 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4-Wheel Drive Limited is a small, four-door, luxury SUV. My test model was midnight black with gold emblems and black leather interior.

   Powered with a 2.5 liter V-6 engine, the Grand Vitara has quick acceleration and a smooth ride, producing 155hp and 160 ft./lb. of torque. Noted for its 60-degree "V" design, the engine is longitudinally mounted for better weight distribution.

   Grand Vitara models JLX and JLX+ come with a two-speed transfer case with a two-wheel drive high range for normal driving and a choice of four-wheel high and four-wheel low range for heavy off-road use. A shift-on-the-fly transfer box lets you shift from two-wheel to four-wheel high at any time below 62mph while traveling in a straight line. With the four-wheel drive, a pneumatic actuator automatically engages the front differential and front axle, which eliminates manually locking wheel hubs. The brakes are power assisted brakes and the vehicle is equipped with ABS.

   You ride high, although the step up isn't bad. The front seats are comfortable, but the back seats are a bit squeezed for room. I did feel like the vehicle was a bit tippy on tight cornering, but the traction was good and all four wheels stayed on the ground. I liked the tinted glass for driving and for the look of the vehicle.

   The gauges were easy to read, but the radio controls required some dexterity. Power windows and locks, cruise control, AM/FM/CD, rear window defroster, daytime running lights, and tilt steering wheel are some of the nicer features.

   Opening the back is interesting in that you unlatch the tailgate-mounted spare tire assembly, which swings out, and then open the rear entry door which swings to the right. It seems backward to loading, but works, as long as you aren't parked next to the curb.

   The cargo space in the back is limited, although I was able to get a folded stroller in by putting it on its side. The back cargo area is 47.6 inches long, which is extended when the rear seats are folded down.

   Air bags are on both driver and front passenger side.