Suzuki Vitara Review 2023

Suzuki Vitara At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Suzuki Vitara is looking a bit dated alongside newer rivals but generous equipment levels, a big boot and strong reliability record means you could do a lot worse. Hybrid power makes it more appealing, too, but it's no rocketship to drive.

+Spacious interior. Feels like it's built to last. Economical engines including hybrid power from 2022.

-Feels a bit dated in many ways. Full hybrid gets a frustrating automated manual gearbox.

New prices start from £23,749
Insurance Groups are between 11–23
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure

The Suzuki Vitara name is synonymous with no-nonsense reliability, value for money and low running costs. And, while there are posher rivals out there, the latest Vitara combines all these desirable attributes with a spacious cabin while also being surprisingly fun to drive.

One of the very first small SUVs, the Suzuki Vitara has now been on sale for more than 30 years. The latest model hasn't been around quite that long, but it has been on the market longer than many of its rivals – cars like the Ford Puma, Skoda Kamiq and latest Nissan Juke, to name just a few.

The Suzuki Vitara does things its own way, though. While some crossovers arguably put style over substance, Suzuki's reliability record means the Vitara should last considerably longer than the average PCP cycle. And, unusually for an SUV of this size, it's available with four-wheel drive. No, it's not going to follow in the tracks of a Land Rover Defender, but it'll hold its own on an untreated rural road.

There have been a number of engines offered in the Suzuki Vitara since the latest iteration went on sale in 2015. We liked the little 1.0-litre BoosterJet – a turbocharged three-cylinder unit with a surprising amount of get-up-and-go – but it didn't last long, offered for a brief period from 2018.

Today, you can get the Suzuki Vitara with a choice of a 1.4-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine or a new 1.5 'full' hybrid. Both offer pretty similar fuel economy stats on paper, with the mild-hybrid model providing a combined WLTP figure of 52.7 while the full hybrid scrapes 53.0mpg – both considerably less than the 64.2mpg you can expect to see from certain Toyota Yaris Cross models.

They're not quick, either. While you don't buy a car like this for performance, the Vitara Hybrid's leisurely 12.7-second 0-62mph time could soon become frustrating when joining the motorway. Even more irritating is the slightly annoying automated manual transmission – the electrical assistance only goes some way towards smoothing over clumsy gear changes.

Still, the Suzuki Vitara's quite fun to drive in a sense. It feels a bit like a Swift-on-stilts, with loads of grip and a small turning circle. It does lean in bends more than, say, a Ford Puma or SEAT Arona, but it's much more car-like to drive than the Suzuki Jimny.

The Suzuki Vitara's interior is feeling a little dated compared to the best in class, although it has received minor updates and improvements over the years. A facelift in 2019 brought with it some welcome additions in the form of a new instrument cluster and some additional soft-touch materials, but otherwise it's pretty much the same as when it was launched in 2015.

With a boxier shape than a Nissan Juke, the Vitara's cabin is surprisingly practical for a small SUV. Access is easy (thanks to wide-opening doors), while you sit higher than you do in a regular hatchback – giving you a good view of your surroundings and a generally increased feeling of safety.

Talking of which, Euro NCAP awarded the Suzuki Vitara a full five stars out of five when it was crash tested back in 2015. You get seven airbags as standard, while the latest models come with things like lane-assist tech (which can nudge you back into your lane if you inadvertently start to stray) and an autonomous braking system that can help prevent (or at least reduce the severity of) a crash.

While there have been a few Suzuki Vitara derivatives over the years, the range is now made up simply of two models: the Vitara SZ-T and the Vitara SZ-5. Both are generously equipped for the money, with the SZ-T starting from a shade under £24,000 and including 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic air conditioning and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The Suzuki SZ5 is closer to £26,000 and comes with a panoramic sunroof, dual-sensor brake support, keyless entry/start and 17-inch polished alloy wheels.

We lived with a Vitara for six months - find out how we got on with it in our Suzuki Vitara long term test

Ask Honest John

What's the best small off-roader?

"I need a compact 4x4 with good fuel economy and lots of ground clearance for bumpy tracks. Good boot space would also be a plus. I'm thinking of buying a Toyota Urban Cruiser but would value your opinion. "
The Toyota Urban Cruiser was a slightly oddball car when it was new and time hasn't exactly been kind to it. On the plus side, it's quite a versatile car and ought to be very reliable. The Mazda CX-7 is a much bigger car and the 2.2-litre diesel engine isn't known for its reliability. We'd recommend a petrol Toyota RAV4 or Suzuki Grand Vitara.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What size space saver do I require for my Suzuki Vitara?

"I've just bought a 2023 Suzuki Vitara 1.4 SZ5 but the dealership won't tell me what size space saver I need. Can you help? "
The spare wheel should be 135/80/R17. You will also need the wheel brace and jack kit.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Best petrol tow car for £10,000?

"I am currently running a 2007 Land Rover Defender. I love it, but towing a medium sized caravan brings consumption down to 17mpg and for normal use 28mpg. The cost of diesel, tax and maintenance is becoming onerous. Also, clean air zones make the vehicle no longer practical for certain areas of the country. I'm thinking of downgrading to a tiny Eriba caravan (kerb weight 750kg) therefore I need the most economic 4x4 petrol tow car. I was thinking of a Suzuki Jimny 2010 (1030 kg kerb weight) Any ideas for a compact petrol 4x4 enabled small car, capable of towing, say, a 750kg braked trailer/caravan? My budget is around £10,000 for an old workhorse."
The Suzuki Jimny is a very good off-roader but it's regarded as quite a poor tow car by those who test or use them. It's not particularly stable and secure even with a relatively light caravan due to its short wheelbase and tall body, so we'd advise against it. We'd be looking at something like a Suzuki Vitara or Dacia Duster, both of which are available with proper four-wheel drive and decent at towing.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Renault Kadjar or Suzuki Vitara?

"I am looking at buying a Renault Kadjar but have been put off by reviews saying stay away from high spec vehicles with 19-inch wheels. What do you think? I will only be traveling about 7000 miles a year. My other choice would be Suzuki Vitara."
Larger wheels result in harder ride quality on less-than-perfect roads. If that isn't a problem for your needs then a Kadjar on 19s shouldn't be ignored. Given the low mileage, I'd be concerned about DPF and EGR problems. A modern diesel needs around 15 miles (per trip) to reach optimum operating temperature and successfully cycle the diesel particulate filter. If you intend to use your SUV for lots of short trips then a Suzuki Vitara petrol hybrid might be the better choice. The Kadjar is also available with a 1.2 petrol engine.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Suzuki Vitara cost?