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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Vitara has excellent off-road ability, and there's a wide choice

Against The ride is bumpy, the car lacks grip, the diesel is weak, and there's limited rear cabin space

Verdict It's a proper junior off-roader, and fun around town, but it lacks its rivals' good manners on-road

Go for… Seven-seaters

Avoid… Diesels

Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4
  • 1. Ensure engine has been serviced every 6000 miles
  • 2. Watch out for off-road damage, particularly on the underside of the car
  • 3. Ensure that important recall work to the suspension was completed
  • 4. The boot is nice and deep, but load sill is a bit high
  • 5. The cabin is roomy, but tight for three in the back
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Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Grand Vitara is a hard-working, hard-wearing 4x4 that’s more capable than most when the going gets tough. It also has a low-ratio gearbox as standard, which helps give it superb control off-road, especially for climbing and descending steep hills.

The Suzuki is less impressive on the road, where it can't match many of its contemporaries. Your passengers will complain about the unsettled, bouncy ride, and raised manhole covers send vibrations through the cabin. In corners, it runs out of grip quickly, and you don’t have to be pressing on too hard before the tyres start squealing.

Inside, those in the front have sufficient space, and longer-wheelbase models seat two rear passengers in comfort, although it's a bit tight for three. Short-wheelbase versions, however, can make back seat passengers feel hemmed in, but the boot is deep, once you’ve lifted your stuff over the highish load lip.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Practical but parts are expensive. 1.6 3dr best value. Don't buy 2.5 V6 - they are thirsty

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The good news is you'll have no trouble finding Grand Vitara. It’s widely available at all outlets, and in a variety of models.

The short-wheelbase car comes with either a fixed hard-top or a soft-top. The soft-top is great fun for occasional use, but lacks the refinement and practicality to cut it as an everyday car. The hard-top, on the other hand, is fine for town driving, provided you rarely travel more than two-up.

On balance, though, the longer-wheelbase models make far more sense as regular wheels. There’s even a seven-seater, badged XL-7, which was launched in 2001, and we'd recommend it. Failing that, pick a five-seat long-wheelbase.

Don’t choose the 2.0 diesel. It gives its best over a narrow range of revs, so you have to keep changing gear to maintain momentum. It’s also noisy, and feels strained on faster roads.

The 1.6 and 2.0 petrols are better, but we prefer the V6, available as a 2.5- and 2.7-litre. It’s smoother, stronger and not that much more thirsty. Basic trim is perfectly adequate.

Trade view

James Ruppert

2.0 and 2.5 V6, revised ’03 and XL7 easy to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

You’ll have to dig deeper to bag the XL-7 seven-seat version, but otherwise used Grand Vitaras are affordably priced, so you're off to a good start.

You may need it, though, because you’ll be looking at service intervals of just 6000 miles (petrols and diesels), and that means big maintenance bills. A Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 should all be cheaper to service.

Insurance costs are more in line with the competition, though. The five-seat V6 models come in for a reasonable group 12 - the same as the 2.0 petrol and turbodiesels. The 1.6 versions (three-door only) are group 10, including the soft-top - that’s low for a convertible 4x4.

You won’t have to blow too much dosh at the fuel pumps, either. The turbodiesel should be good for high-30s to the gallon, the 1.6 mid-30s, the 2.0 about 30mpg and the V6s 3mpg or so less.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Practical but parts are expensive. 1.6 3dr best value. Don't buy 2.5 V6 - they are thirsty

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The JD Power customer satisfaction survey has highlighted some faulty switchgear and controls. Electrics were a weak spot on the previous model, too, according to data from Warranty Direct, so check all switches and knobs.

The engines are generally very reliable, given proper servicing. However, because the service interval for all models is 6000 miles, it’s tempting for owners to skip the odd one. Check the service history for any missed stamps and buy only if there is a full record.

Watch out for off-road damage, particularly on the underside, bumpers and suspension. There was also an important suspension-related recall on V6s and diesels over concerns that the studs on the front strut mountings may shear. Suzuki dealers fitted upper and lower reinforcement plates to the suspension turret and new strut mountings.

Generally, though, there are no major concerns over reliability or build quality, and a cared-for Grand Vitara should be largely trouble-free.

Trade view

James Ruppert

2.0 and 2.5 V6, revised ’03 and XL7 easy to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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