Suzuki calls its primary sport utility vehicle an "offroad athlete." The Grand Vitara is based on a purely Suzuki design, and competitors include the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4.
Side sill garnishes embellish the hood. A tailgate-mounted spare tire is installed, and the 17-inch tires on upper-end models have wide treads. Base models ride on 16-inch rubber.
The four-mode four-wheel-drive system, an option for XSport and Luxury models, includes 4H, 4H Lock (slippery) and 4L Lock positions. A limited-slip center differential and rear-wheel drive come standard. A single-mode four-wheel-drive system is offered for base models.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard in all models. Four-channel antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution.
The seat bottoms are short, but the Grand Vitara has good thigh and back support and snug side bolstering. Large gauges are easy to read. Quieter-running than some smaller SUVs, the Grand Vitara provides easy views in all directions.
A four-mode four-wheel-drive Grand Vitara performed impressively on a challenging offroad course, traversing lumpy surfaces and scads of rocks. Many times, scraping an obstacle seemed inevitable, but that didn't happen.