Review: Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014)

Rating:

Good looking, on road handling much better than previous version, comparatively cheap, impressive off road.

A bit crude compared to the more expensive opposition. No spare wheel on back from July 2010 to December 2012. Production ended June 2014.

Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014): At A Glance

Launched in 2005, the Grand Vitara had a mild facelift in 2008 (it wasn't showing any wrinkles). The front end is slightly different, door mirrors now incorporate side indicators, and there are some extra touches of ‘quality' inside, such as grey wood inlays to the dash.

The size (and price) of it makes it directly competitive to the Hyundai Tucson and KIA Sportage, something the old Grand Vitara wasn't because of its old-tech live-axle running gear. And, unlike its shorter sister, there is a petrol automatic version available.

What does a Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014) cost?

Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4035–4500 mm
Width 1810–1880 mm
Height 1695 mm
Wheelbase 2440–2640 mm

Full specifications

Biggest advantage over the SWB is that you can get an extra person in the back seat. Plus a lot more luggage. The rear seats are split 60:40 and as well as reclining slightly also tumble leaving a flat luggage floor, though tumbled they take up so much space you can't easily access it through the rear side doors.

Child seats that fit a Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014) like to drive?

Start it and it sounds like a truck-load of gravel being emptied onto a wasp's nest. Smooth it isn't. It's quite low geared too, for a diesel. Just 25mph per 1,000rpm. But unlike the 3-door it comes with lockable centre diff and low range gears as standard. So you can go off-roading, if you can find an off-road. It also has a high-set air inlet, bolted to the bonnet shut plate, which means it's not likely to hydraulic fording a stream or a flood.

That extra length over the SWB gives it much better ride quality and sportier handling. You still don't want to cruise at much more than 75-80mph, but it's stable and positive at speed rather than a bit vague like the old solid-back-axle Vitaras.

I got on fine with it. enrolling it in a variety of duties including carrying heavy boxes of books to store. However, one day it rained between loadings and the disadvantage of the side opening rear door became apparent. Unprotected by the usual hatch suspended over the load area, a couple of boxes got wet.

I really appreciated the big, chunky 225/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueller tyres over speed cushions, and school run mums should note you can bounce them over kerbs with impunity. But, towards the end of the week, engine and road noise on the motorway became a bit wearing.

However, with that proviso, it's a useful vehicle, not too big, not too small and easy to get on with in day-to-day life. It's cheap enough, costing no more than a high spec family Ford (before discount). Though I didn't check accurately, it probably will do around 37mpg. And it is capable of the serious off-roading no more than 20% of customers will actually use it for.

The main thing is, it's hugely better than the old Grand Vitara, and for that reason puts itself on shopping lists along with the other sensibly priced SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson and KIA Sportage.

UPDATE: 2008 FACELIFT AND INTRODUCTION OF NEW 1.9-LITRE DIESEL

You can actually get this new engine in both sizes of Vitara. And with a 4-speed automatic transmission that still keeps the CO2 under punitive tax bands. Emissions are actually slightly lower than the old 2.0 litre petrol engine.Gearing of the 5-speed manual worked out at about 23.5mph per 1,000rpm giving a 3,000 70mph cruise. It will tow 1,850kg.

From memory, ride quality and handling both seemed to be improved and the car is as comfortable on the motorway as it is going to the shops. Reclining rear seats in the LWB help here. So does cruise control that is very easy and intuitive to operate from buttons on the steering wheel.

Over around 300 miles I averaged 29.1mpg. With so much competition in a niche market that has grown into a canyon, the Grand Vitara won't sell in large numbers so has exclusivity on its side. And the fact it remains a proper off-roader for situations where a centre diff lock and low range are needed. Buy one and you could find yourself hauled into towing the neighbour's Tiguan out of a snowdrift this winter.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 35 mpg 14.4 s 189 g/km
1.9 DDiS 38–43 mpg 13.2 s 174–191 g/km
2.4 31–33 mpg 11.2–11.7 s 201–208 g/km
2.4 Automatic 29–31 mpg 11.5–12.0 s 213–221 g/km

Real MPG average for a Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

83%

Real MPG

20–40 mpg

MPGs submitted

113

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Suzuki Grand Vitara (2005 – 2014)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Can you recommend a budget-friendly, reliable, no frills 4x4?

We're looking for a second car. Something with no frills; a proper 4x4 (rural Highlands and Islands) with a raised driving position, reliable and preferably under £5000. We are considering an old Nissan X-Trail, Skoda Yeti, Mitsubishi Shogun and Suzuki Vitara. Would you recommend any of these or something different? Thank you.
You might find that second-hand Shoguns have led pretty hard lives and finding a good one can be difficult. Diesel X-Trails can be troublesome, while we've also had a lot of issues reported with Yetis. My money would go on a Suzuki Grand Vitara or Honda CR-V. Both ought to be very reliable choices. Also, consider a Dacia Duster if you're after a no-frills 4x4.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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