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#16

in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $8,149 - $11,961
Original MSRP: $18,499 - $26,299
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Most critics think that the 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara's performance is adequate, although a more powerful V6 engine for 2009 should curb complaints about sluggish acceleration.

  • "There was road noise coming into the Grand Vitara, and the ride isn't refined. It felt stiff and the road bumps were enough to encourage me to avoid patched pavement where I could." -- The Associated Press
  • "Compared with the car-based Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, it suffers from dull turn-in and more pronounced body roll." -- Car and Driver
  • "Its unibody features built-in ladder frame, which, during a highway sprint, revealed a bouncier ride than one might expect from vehicles in this class, but it's far from an overly rough ride." -- AutoWeek
  • "We tested the 4WD version with the noticeably more spirited V-6. Above average energy and exceptional control in snow. But on dry, uneven roads, the suspension tends to jiggle. And, if traveling in steerage, leave your knees at home." -- Chicago Tribune

Acceleration and Power

For 2009, the Grand Vitara gets a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, as well as a new 3.2-liter V6 to replace last year's 2.7-liter engine. According to the EPA, the 2WD Grand Vitara nets 19/26 mpg city/highway with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission or 19/25 mpg with the automatic. V6 models net 18/24 mpg.

  • "Around-town acceleration is adequate with either engine. Four-cylinder feels peppy from a stop, but highway passing can take patience. V6 builds speed gradually off the line but has decent reserve power for passing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Smooth for its size, this 16-valve 166-bhp engine has more than adequate power, giving the Grand Vitara a surprisingly lively feel, mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission." -- Road and Track
  • "Although down 18 hp from our V-6 tester, the vehicle's four-cylinder engine actually feels quite peppy. Merging on the freeway and climbing hills requires only modest throttle input, as does passing on the freeway. Picking up my brother and his luggage did little to slow it down. What hampers the Grand Vitara more than the engine, though, is the old-school four-speed transmission. In most situations it's not a problem, but if you hit an incline on the freeway, things get ugly." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

For 2009, the Grand Vitara retains its four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a new multi-link setup in the back. While reviewers praise its off-road abilities, test drivers don't have good things to say about the SUV's highway ride.

  • "We wheeled the new GV over some rocky trails in the hardscrabble hill country, including some fairly technical stretches of grille-deep water crossings, rocky wash-outs, and steep hill climbs of loose dirt, and it handled pretty much everything we could throw at it." -- Four Wheeler
  • "On-road handling is fair, the steering somewhat vague." -- Motor Trend
  • "Sure, the Grand Vitara Luxury offers a sunroof and leather seats, but it also has a body that shakes in more ways than Dairy Queen, dull responses to all driver inputs, and an exhaust note that progresses from merely thrashy under low load to full-on passive/aggressive bristly at full throttle." -- Car and Driver
  • "Ride quality is quite firm and reminds us of a pure truck. But only the bigger bumps and ripples find their way to the passenger compartment. Noise control is much improved." -- Motor Week

Next Steps: 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara

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