Suzuki Grand Vitara Overland Profile

The Suzuki Grand Vitara’s commencement dates back to 1998, when it was sold as a V-6 engine variant to the existing Suzuki Vitara. Soon enough, it evolved into a more fashionable, dynamic, and sporty sibling of the Vitara and became a model distinguished from the rest of its series. 

Unfortunately, like many other models, the Grand Vitara was much underrated in the U.S. automobile market. Due to the lack of appreciation, as people were busy applauding the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Suzuki decided to pull the plug on the Grand Vitara. 

Still, in the class of small SUVs, the Grand Vitara sums up to be a competent offroader capable of Overlanding too. Here’s the vehicle profile of the Grand Vitara as an overland stock and the hits and misses of owning one.

Models

ModelYearsEngineBHPTorque (lb-ft)MPG (city/hwy)
JLX+19992.5 Liter V-6155 @ 6000 RPM160 @ 4000 RPM19 / 21
Base20032.5 Liter V-6165 @ 6500 RPM162 @ 4000 RPM19 / 21
Premium20062.7 Liter V-6185 @ 6000 RPM184 @ 4500 RPM19 / 24
XSport20082.7 Liter V-6185 @ 6000 RPM184 @ 4500 RPM17 / 21
Luxury20093.2 Liter I-4230 @ 6200 RPM213 @ 3500 RPM19 / 23
Limited20122.4 Liter I-4166 @ 6000 RPM162 @ 4000 RPM19 / 23
JLX20182.4 Liter I-4140 @ 6000 RPM167 @ 4400 RPM20 / 25

Cost

★★★

Purchasing Cost

For some unknown reason, only Suzuki knows, the Grand Vitara is being sold under various nameplates across the globe like Grand Escudo, Sidekick (1st Gen), Grand Nomade, Asuna Sunrunner, Santana 300, etc. 

This vehicle profile is all about the Grand Vitara that was sold in the U.S. from 1998 to 2013. Since production has been ceased, North American buyers can either buy a used one or import (if you’re interested in getting one).

The price for a decent Grand Vitara will average between $3225 to $25949. The latest 2020 model is tagged at $35590. For its class, this is definitely considered no less of a price than its competitors.

We’ll see if these few extras balance out with the value it gives.

Maintenance Cost

The funky-looking Grand Vitara doesn’t incur many expenses for its owner besides the regular annual maintenance any vehicle would need. Fuel economy for the Grand Vitara averages out at 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway.

Even though these figures may seem better than what many of its rivals, like the Jeep Wrangler, has to offer, it is still considered unimpressive for its size.

Take note that excessive fuel consumption was also stated as a reason for low sales which led to the consecutive market withdrawal.

Reliability

★★☆☆☆

The Grand Vitara is a reliable vehicle – even though it didn’t make it good in the U.S., it was quite a hit in some Asian countries. Closer to home, the Grand Vitara has been previous lauded as the United Kingdom’s second-most reliable SUV.

The Grand Vitara is not an easy roadside repair vehicle but a machine that refuses to break. A 200,000 miles odometer reading can be an easy feat for the Grand Vitara if it is bolstered up and maintained well. 

As is the case with all models, the Grand Vitara also has some avoidable model years. The models of 2004 and 2005 have seen a few complaints of issues related to insulation, fuel, and engine.

Apart from that, it has had very few recalls over the years. Thus, I would say that this is a reliable one to take along with for long journeys.

Parts

★★★

Accessibility

Suzuki is one of the top 10 largest automobile manufacturers globally, with its share in about 192 countries – including distributors. Finding parts for the Grand Vitara is very straightforward in most countries. 

But in the U.S., it is considered a bit more troublesome as the model is heavy on the plastic side of materials. And…no, the plastic parts are not deemed to be of high quality either.

So a well-beaten vehicle would need heavy repairs and replacements. Luckily, the internal mechanisms and engineering are simple enough to get low-cost custom replacements or mix and match other models’ parts.

Aftermarket Upgrades

The Grand Vitara’s aftermarket availability is moderate enough – not too vast, not too limited. You can’t really find many overlanders here choosing a Grand Vitara over a bigger name like Toyota or Chevy, so it makes sense for aftermarket suppliers to lack options too.

If you’re out of the United States, you are open to an exemplar of options to choose from. The Grand Vitara is the first model that pulled consumers’ attention and garnered visibility to Suzuki’s ray of SUVs when Suzuki was branded as a load vehicle line.

Thus, it does have a good amount of aftermarket support to back up its factory versions.

Storage

★★☆☆☆

Interior space is well-crafted to give an adequate volume of cargo space. I wouldn’t say it’s the best out there (for long journeys), but it does provide an ample amount of storage space. Five-seat Grand Vitaras can be flattened to create a bed, or some seats can be taken out for more room. 

Grand Vitara Premium (2006)

Overall Length176.0”
Overall Width71.3”
Wheelbase103.9”
Unladen Height66.7”
Unladen Weight3452 – 3582 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight4630 lbs

Grand Vitara Luxury (2009)

Overall Length177.1”
Overall Width71.3”
Wheelbase103.9’
Unladen Height66.7”
Unladen Weight3479 – 3611 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight4630 lbs

Grand Vitara Limited (2012)

Overall Length177.2”
Overall Width71.3”
Wheelbase103.9”
Unladen Height66.7”
Unladen Weight3479 – 3611 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight4630 lbs

Comfort

★★☆☆☆

Comfort is a very confusing topic with the Grand Vitara. Some claim it to define the first-class comfort with adjustable seats, lateral support, good road visibility, and effortless handling. On the other hand, some are dissatisfied with the stiff suspension that makes rides bouncy and uncomfortable, lack of ergonomic seats, lumbar support, etc.

My comment on this is that for sure, the Grand Vitara is a little outdated with its interior and technological implements. Close competitors are able to provide much better sophistication at the same price tag – or even lower in some cases.

Overall comfort satisfaction primarily varies according to the individual. In terms of overlanding needs, the Grand Vitara does fill the basics, no doubt.

Safety

★★★★☆

Even though since its discontinuation, there haven’t been many U.S. sources to guarantee the Grand Vitara’s safety measures, it has to be noted that it received a 5/5 star rating from the Euro NCAP and ANCAP.

Standard safety features include; anti-lock brakes, hill descent control, stability control, multiple airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and more.

The vehicle is fairly good with safety measures and crash tests. The latest models have a mode-selection feature that consists of Snow, Auto, Sport, and Lock modes to enable better traction and safety on such roads/terrains.

Off-Road

★★☆☆☆

Suzuki has always had off-road features in mind ever since the SJ413. The whole motive of setting apart the Grand Vitara from the Vitara series was to deliver a capable small-sized SUV for better off-road performance. Yet, the Grand Vitara cannot be compared to the beasty Ford F-150 or Tundra

Unlike many models, which tend to incline further towards the off-road niche market with each successive generation, the Grand Vitara went in reverse.

It became more favored towards on-road comfort rather than off-road capabilities. The first 2 generations were built on body-on-frame construction, and the third switched to monocoque construction. To further amplify this, the Grand Vitara also turned from a 4WD to an AWD.

If you’re looking to get some serious offroading, aftermarket modifications are necessary before starting on the trials. For casual offroading, the Grand Vitara can take you all the way through. 

BasisPremium (2006)Luxury (2009)Limited (2012)
Break-over Angle (°)191919
Approach Angle (°)292928
Departure Angle (°)272626
Min. Ground Clearance (inch)7.97.97.4

Suzuki Grand Vitara Overland Build Example

Equipment

  • Roof Rack: Yakima OffGrid Roof Cargo Basket
  • Tent: Rightline Gear SUV Tent
  • Fridge: Engel 40 Litre Portable Fridge-Freezer
  • Compressor: ARB Twin Compressor
  • Water Storage: Front Runner Footwell 10.57 Gal Water Tank

Drivetrain

  • Tires: Hankook Dynamic RT03 MT Tires 225/75r16
  • Wheels: Rav4 1st Gen Alloy Wheels
  • Suspension: Dobinsons Suspension Kit

Armor

  • Front Bumper: High Clearance Front Bumper Kit from Coastal Offroad
  • Rear Bumper: Evan-Fischer Rear Bumper
  • Rock Slider: Wizard Works Offroad Rock Sliders

Recovery

  • Recovery Boards: ALL-TOP 4X4 Recovery Boards
  • Winch: Champion 12000 CTA 12V Electric Winch
  • Jack: Husky 3 Ton SUV Trolley Floor Jack-T83006
  • Shovel: DMOS Delta Shovel
  • Recovery Kit: ARB Premium Recovery Kit
  • Tire Deflator: Hromee Automatic Tire Deflators Kit
  • Tire Repair: Slime Pro-Series Ultimate Tire Repair Kit

Lighting

  • Light Bar: Rigid Adapt 40” LED Light Bar
  • Rock Lights: LUX Rock Lights
  • Reverse Lights: Putco Metal LED 360 Reverse Lights
  • Camp Lights: SSGLOVELIN LED Awning Lights
  • Interior Lights: Suparee Interior LED Ceiling Light

Electrical

  • Power: Duracell PowerSource 1440W Portable Power Station
  • Solar: Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
  • Battery: Odyssey ODX-AGM34R

Conclusion

In terms of style, quality, and substance, the Grand Vitara is the best model out of the Vitara series since 1988. I have to point out that the discontinuation is more of a loss to the U.S. automobile industry than Suzuki itself.

That was partly marketing mistakes from Suzuki’s side, promoting a non-luxury vehicle extensively where luxury vehicles are ruling endlessly. There are numerous reasons as to why you have much better options for overlanding than a Grand Vitara.

It mainly lies in what you stand for. In my opinion, you can be fairly positive about putting your money on a used Grand Vitara, and it will pay off in the long run – probably.

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