in 2013 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $13,152 - $16,136
Original MSRP: $19,949 - $25,949
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara Performance

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

The automotive press agrees that the 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara doesn’t have enough power to be fun-to-drive and that its engine and transmission lack the refinement found in newer SUVs. They note that the Grand Vitara lacks the composed handling and comfortable ride you’ll find in competitors like the Honda CR-V. However, an available four-wheel drive system makes it more capable off-road than most crossovers, and reviewers appreciate its precise steering and tight turning radius.

  • "The engine is coarse and unrefined, particularly during full-throttle acceleration." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "While the 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara makes a decent choice for commuting and daily errands, a somewhat unrefined ride quality and firm seats can become tiresome on longer trips." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Technically the Mazda CX-5 has less horsepower but, unlike the Grand Vitara, that small SUV is a hoot to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 166 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic comes with higher trims. The EPA reports that the Grand Vitara gets up to 19/26 mpg city/highway, which is worse than the fuel economy of rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru XV Crosstrek.

In general, reviewers are let down by the Grand Vitara’s powertrain. They note that it’s one of the least-powerful SUVs in the class and that the Grand Vitara doesn’t accelerate as quickly as they would like. One test driver says that a slow-shifting transmission only makes matters worse, but another reviewer thinks that the four-speed automatic is more responsive than expected.

  • "Despite having just 4 speeds, the automatic transmission is surprisingly responsive." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "But even these perks can't overcome the Grand Vitara's primary drawback, namely, a weak four-cylinder engine that struggles to either propel it with any authority or achieve top fuel-economy numbers." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Athletic it's not, and with only one engine option good for just 166 horsepower, it's near the bottom of its class in terms of power output." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "The powertrain is tolerable during leisurely jaunts around town or on the highway, but it's a different story if you're in a hurry. Upshifts are slow, but downshifts seem to take an eternity, and magnify its deficient and outdated powertrain." -- Motor Trend (2012)

Handling and Braking

Overall, test drivers think the Grand Vitara offers good maneuverability, noting its accurate steering and small turning circle. However, some reviewers also say that the Grand Vitara can’t match the car-like handling you’ll find in SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage. Additionally, one critic says that the Grand Vitara didn’t feel as stable as he would like at higher speeds.

  • "The steering feels precise. Despite noticeable body lean, Grand Vitara never feels unstable." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Handling doesn't feel nearly as stable as the compact crossovers from Honda and Kia, and the overall ride quality isn't as carlike." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "The GV does have precise steering and a relatively tight turning radius of 36 feet, which means better access to parking spaces and less of those embarrassing 3-way turns." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)  
  • "At speeds over 70 mph, however, the Grand Vitara did its best impression of someone with two left feet, struggling to travel in a straight line while exhibiting some strange lateral movements. We're not sure if this is endemic with all Grand Vitaras or specific to our tester, but it required the driver's full attention." -- Motor Trend (2012)


The 2013 Grand Vitara Premium is available with an optional all-wheel drive system, while Limited models get an available four-wheel drive system with low-range gearing. Most reviewers agree that the Grand Vitara offers more off-road capability than newer affordable crossovers. However, one test driver notes that SUVs like the Nissan Xterra and Jeep Liberty are more trail-worthy.

  • "Grand Vitara also offers an all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a locking center differential; both features give this SUV more capability off-road than most." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "If serious off-roading is your thing, a Jeep Liberty or Nissan Xterra might suit you better." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "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 (2009)

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