2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara Limited 4WD Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Whenever I drive an automobile from Suzuki, I think back to the 1980s, when I was fresh out of college.  As a new grad, I had choices to make.  Do I buy a good used car or go new?  If you were like me, then you did not make a ton of money post graduation, at least not right away.

So I narrowed the choices down to economy cars, and decided to drive the Chevrolet Chevette.  At $4,995 out the door, how could I resist the Chevette?  Well, after a ten minute test drive, the Chevette came back to the lot, and I bought a used Datsun.  Why did I choose old over new?  Because economy cars in the 70s and 80s for the North American market were just plain garbage. Pinto, Chevette and Horizon were some of the nameplates.  The venerable VW Beetle was a death trap.  You simply could not get a lot of car for little money those days.

Well, for 2010, times have certainly changed.  Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Chevy, VW and other manufacturers now build quality, small, inexpensive cars and small SUVs.  The Korean manufacturers led by Hyundai really sparked a resurgence in the lower end of the car market.  Hyundai came in the 1980s and sold a ton of Ponys but was a dismal failure in producing a quality car, followed up with the Excel that "excelled" at nothing.  But Hyundai went back to the proverbial drawing board, and ramped up the quality of their cars exponentially.  Kia followed suit, and so did Suzuki, perhaps best known in North America for their motorcycles and outboard marine motors.

A recent test of the 2010 Grand Vitara Limited proves that you don't have to skimp to get a well built automobile.

My Limited tester was finished in White Water Pearl Metallic, and it just looked fantastic.  It's a unibody SUV, but also features an integrated ladder frame for greater off-road prowess.  More on that later.  The design of the Grand Vitara is rugged, with a tall cabin, stout body and rear mounted wheel housing for the spare tire.  Along the sides, a tall waistline gives the impression the SUV is much larger, while side hood mounted vents give a modern, aerodynamic appearance.  The lower character line rolls from front to rear wheel arch, giving a muscular, big-boy SUV look. The grille features the familiar "S" logo, while lower fascia mounted fog lights are stylish and very useful at night, as their output is very, very good.  To the rear, a single exhaust exits the passenger side, while jeweled taillamps meet the tailgate that opens like a door from driver to passenger side. Functional roof rails complete an aggressive, well finished look.

Open the driver's door, and slide into the leather interior, which comes standard with the Vitara JLX-L V6. The heated front seats are very supportive, and feature perforated centre sections.  The thick rimmed steering wheel comes with audio and cruise control buttons standard.  Wood trim is used sparingly but tastefully, and is a very high quality plastic.  It looks so good in fact that if it was in an Aston Martin or Jaguar, I would have assumed it was real.

The driver looks at a triple gauge pod that houses the speedometer, tachometer and fuel/temperature gauges.  A useful trip computer resides just below the speedo, and offers a crisp LCD readout.  Very nice.

There are centre stack mounted controls for audio and HVAC.  Just below that is a rotary transfer case switch that enables selection of 4 High, 4 High Locked and 4 Low Locked for the four-wheel drive system.  To the right of the transfer case selector are buttons to turn off the standard electronic stability control and to turn on standard downhill assist control.  This is no Land Rover folks, but should be quite capable in all but the worst snow climates.

At night, the interior is awash in varying colors.  Electroluminescent style white lights glow in the main gauges, the LCD trip computer is white on blue, and the centre stack features aircraft style red lighting.  Sounds like a mess, but it works well and looks good.  My only gripes with the entire car centre around the lighting, or lack thereof.  Door mounted switches on the driver's side are not lit, with the exception of the window switch for the driver's position.  As I entered a sketchy neighborhood one evening, I instinctively double checked to make sure the doors were locked.  Of course, I could not find the switch as it was not lit.  Window switches on all passenger doors stay dark.  And there is no light in the glove box.  This vehicle offers tremendous value, but for my money they could have kept the standard keyless start and given me a couple of light bulbs.

Speaking of tremendous value, much comes standard in the Limited.  ESC, TCS, ABS. EBD, SRS and TPMS are the safety acronyms that mean you are well protected.  A power glass sunroof, cruise control and great sounding CD audio system join the features already mentioned in this review.

On the road, ride quality and handling are very good.  This is a vehicle that won't beat your brains out on substandard road surfaces.  Interior room is decent, with folding second row seats that really open up the cargo area.  Power comes from a 3.2 litre V6 with good acceleration and decent fuel economy – 11.2 L/100km and 8.6 L/km highway.

All of this comes in at an excellent $32,195.  Options and destination charges pushed the price to $33,790.  Of course, Suzuki's terrific 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty is standard as well.

May the Chevette rest in peace.  Suzuki and others have proven that inexpensive no longer means you have to suffer to save money.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Suzuki, 2010, Grand Vitara, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Compact,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page