Avg. Price Paid:$6,406 - $10,083
Original MSRP: $19,499 - $25,699
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara was new.

Most critics feel the 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara's performance is simply adequate. Motor Trend says that "despite excellent off-roadability, the changes with the new model give it much more show than go."

Though the standard V6 engine is good enough for about-town travel, the Arizona Republic says it "works hard to propel the SUV to highway speeds or up hills."

Acceleration and Power

The Suzuki Grand Vitara comes standard with a 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter, 24-valve DOHC V6 engine that makes 184 pound-feet of torque. Autoweb thinks that "torque may be the culprit when it comes to what feels like a lack of power."

Critics agree that the Grand Vitara's performance has improved over earlier models. But many, like Autoweb, say "the Grand Vitara's biggest downfall is its lack of power," while Cars.com adds "acceleration is good but not stunning." Automobile Magazine agrees and says "while the Grand Vitara is no longer desperately underpowered, it's still not as spry as a V-6 Ford Escape."

The Grand Vitara driver will find a smooth ride around town, but the lack of power may be noticeable at highway speeds. Consumer Guide finds that "highway passing can take patience." In spite of this Cars.com says the Grand Vitara, "almost glides through smooth stretches more like a family sedan than an SUV."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the base 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara with manual transmission gets an estimated 16 miles per gallon in town and 22 mpg on the highway; while automatic versions of the base, XSport and Luxury trims get 17 mpg in town, 22 mpg on the highway. This is "a little below average for this class of vehicle," writes Edmunds, though MSN says that's "OK for a compact V6 SUV."

The standard trim comes with a five-speed manual transmission, with an optional five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Xsport and Luxury trims come with the automatic. Of the automatic transmission the Orlando Sentinel thinks "it works reasonably well but could use some re-programming to smooth out shifts." Cars.com says that shifts can be "occasionally awkward, almost jerky."

Handling and Braking

Some reviews found issues with the Grand Vitara's overall handling. USA Today wrote "the ride is somewhat stiff," and Motor Trend says, "handling is fair, the steering somewhat vague" and Car and Driver says the Grand Vitara "suffers from dull turn-in and more pronounced body roll" and gives "dull responses to all driver inputs." And there were several mentions of a shaking effect, ranging from "too much jiggle on rippled surfaces" (Consumer Guide) to "shakes in more ways than Dairy Queen" (Car and Driver).

Other critics had a positive experience with the Grand Vitara. Edmunds praises its overall handling and said its "power-assisted rack and pinion steering is quick and exact." Newsday agrees, calling the handling "quite competent." Not surprising given that the Grand Vitara is engineered for off-roading, Motor Week finds the ride quality "quite firm and reminds us of a pure truck."

A common complaint was noise at fast speeds. AutoWeek heard "a lot of road noise at highway speeds." Ward's AutoWorld also experienced "engine noise evident upon acceleration." And the Los Angeles Times says pushing the vehicle creates "noises about as sexy as a weed whacker."

A four-wheel independent suspension, with MacPherson struts in front and a new multi-link setup in the back, and a locking center differential, "keep the Grand Vitara's nose from diving but allow its haunches maneuverability," writes Edmunds. The Washington Post calls it "a much improved suspension." And Cars.com says its reactions are "very quick and controlled."

The Grand Vitara has a four-wheel antilock brake system with electronic brake force distribution, a technology that distributes the force applied to each of the vehicle's brakes based on road conditions. Automotive.com writes that brakes are the Grand Vitara's "weak link" adding "the engineers cheaped out and gave us rear drums, which grab hold a little too strongly." Motor Week auto writers observe that "stops from 60 were a little long at 135 feet but with excellent stability."

Off Roading

Many critics were impressed with the Suzuki Grand Vitara's off-road skills. The base trim comes standard with a single four-wheel-drive mode, while the upper trim has a four-mode system for different off-road terrain. Edmunds calls out its respectable "off-road prowess," while Ward's AutoWorld says the Grand Vitara is "a surprising standout on rough terrain."


The Grand Vitara has a 3,000-lb towing capacity, which Velocity Journal says allows it to "accommodate larger trailers." The Los Angeles Times calls this a "respectable" capacity, though About.com says, "leave that yacht hooked up to your F250."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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