MPG-o-Matic Review Summary: The Suzuki Grand Vitara is a tough little SUV that’s well worth a look if you need an off-road worthy four wheel drive that can get you into and out of those tight spaces.
While the Suzuki Grand Vitara competes most closely with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Jeep Patriot, the Grand Vitara’s available true four wheel drive (4WD) and low-range transfer case make Suzuki’s little SUV more Jeep-like then the CR-V or RAV4.
Under the hood, our top of the line Grand Vitara Luxury review unit was fitted with a 16-valve DOHC 3.2-liter V6 engine, producing 230 horsepower (HP) and 213 foot pounds of torque. (A 16-valve DOHC 2.4-liter inline four producing 166 HP and 162 foot pounds of torque is available in the base and premium models.)
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2009 Grand Vitara Luxury edition are 17 city / 23 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with the five-speed automatic transmission. (The inline four and five-speed manual transmission are rated at 19/25 in 4WD and 19/26 in rear wheel drive.)
We slipped past the official estimates in our White Water Pearl Grand Vitara Luxury review unit. In over two hundred miles of driving, we scored an average of 24.6 MPG on the Interstate highway, an 21 MPG combined. Test period temperatures ranged from the thirties through fifties, with freeway speeds between 60 and 70 miles per hour (MPH).
The Grand Vitara provides both Average and Instant Fuel Economy displays beneath the speedometer. The Instant Fuel Economy display is well-designed, helping to make light-footed driving all the more pleasant. While keeping your foot out of it is key for the best mileage, the Grand Vitara’s V6 delivers when you need to stomp on the pedal.
(MPGomatic’s Rule of Thumb Toe: the further you can drive with your foot completely off the pedal, the higher you’ll score with regard to MPGs.)
While it does just fine on the open road, the Grand Vitara is at its best off the beaten path.
Point the Grand Vitara at a muddied pot-holed trail and it’ll do just fine.
The 4WD Grand Vitara is always in 4WD drive. In normal conditions, you’ll use 4H mode. The dash mounted dial allows you to select between the 4H, 4H Lock, and 4L Lock transfer case settings. In order to switch modes, you need to have the brake on, the accelerator off, and the gearshift in neutral. (The neutral transfer case setting is for those occasions when you need to tow the Grand Vitara.)
All-in-all, we found the 4WD Suzuki Grand Vitara to be quite competent, both on and off the road, with the only downsides being the lack of standard iPod integration and the lower fuel economy that one has to expect with an honest-to-goodness 4WD.
– by Daniel Gray
December 7th, 2008
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