Suzuki flew the coop from the Canadian marketplace a few years back, though their Grand Vitara SUV model is still popping up as a used-car buy in the Canadian marketplace. The third-generation machine launched for model-year 2006 in the fall of 2005, offering four or six-cylinder power, an off-road capable 4x4 system with low-range gearing and a lockable centre differential and plenty of ground clearance. Though it was far from the best-selling machine in its segment, the Grand Vitara was loved by owners after actual off-road capability on the road less travelled.
Model-year 2008 saw a facelifted model hit the road, complete with two new, higher-tech engine options, including a V6 with up to 230 hp. Fuel economy and performance were both increased over the outgoing engine options.
Grand Vitara owners commonly praise the model’s agile and sporty appearance, generous off-road capability, and the availability of low-range gearing for help tackling even challenging terrain.
Grand Vitara protected occupants with standard front, side and curtain airbags across the lineup, as well as with standard stability control, child-seat anchors and brake assist to shorten stopping distances. Optional hill-descent and hill-hold controls added confidence and peace of mind during off-roading.
Inside, shoppers will find plenty of flexible storage by way of a folding rear bench and plenty of handy compartments. Heated leather seats, a CD changer and Homelink are all available, and all Grand Vitara models came with standard air conditioning, automatic climate control, in-cabin air filter, power locks and power windows.
What Owners Like
Grand Vitara owners commonly praise the model’s agile and sporty appearance, generous off-road capability, and the availability of low-range gearing for help tackling even challenging terrain. Peppy performance, and generous feature content on the high-end JLX model were highly rated, as was power from the available V6 engine.
What Owners Dislike
Complaints tend to centre around heavier-than-expected fuel consumption given the size of the engine, as well as stiff and uncomfortable back seats. Some owners wish for a richer selection of materials inside, citing a low-budget feeling and el-cheapo grade plastics.
Here are a few owner reviews.
Shoppers set on a compact SUV with real capability investigating the Grand Vitara should research the availability of parts, accessories, fluids and warranty coverage, if applicable, in their locale ahead of their purchase.
Here’s a tool on the brand’s website that you can use to track down the nearest dealer. Remember that Suzuki is still operating in Canada, they’re just not dealing in the automotive market. Suzuki dealers selling ATV’s marine equipment and motorcycles are still in full operation, and many have full service automotive shops to take care of warranty and repairs on their vehicles. As such, a newer Grand Vitara may still have some warranty coverage available.
Next, check the mileage of the used unit you’re considering, and see where it lands on this service schedule. If the model you’re considering is at or near one of its service intervals, be sure to budget to have the service carried out at a dealer for maximum longevity and peace of mind.
Ask the seller if they’ve experienced any issues with the fuel gauge, and note any sudden movements on the fuel gauge during your test-drive. Some owners have reported strange, sporradic behavior form the fuel gauge, and in general, on the Grand Vitara, it seems that the fuel gauge shouldn’t be taken as a high-precision reading of remaining fuel level. In most cases, this doesn’t seem to be an issue of electronics problems or bad parts, but simply what some owners call the most inaccurate fuel gauge they’ve ever seen. Some owners feel the saddle-shaped tank design doesn’t help with accuracy, either.
Confirm proper operation of all interior lighting, especially relating to illumination of the gear selector, radio head unit, and instrument cluster. Some owners have reported issues with burned out lights, or burned out LED segments in the Grand Vitara’s various readouts.
Confirm proper operation of all power windows, and the sunroof, noting any issues with having the panel open or close properly. If the sunroof fails to respond to the switch or stays stuck open, the switch may need replacing.
A few owners have reported issues relating to overheating, especially on models with the four-cylinder engine and while working the vehicle hard, for instance, towing on a hot day. Though the cause seems to be unclear, there’s some discussion of a propensity for an air bubble to form in the cooling system, blocking coolant flow and causing the overheat condition. As a precaution against potential engine damage, have the cooling system inspected and serviced on any used Grand Vitara you’re considering, especially if you’re planning on some towing.
You’ll also want to have a mechanic inspect the Grand Vitara’s engine for signs of an oil leak from the timing cover area, which could be evidence of a bad timing chain cover gasket and / or a bad timing chain tensioner, which can cause an oil leak, possibly accompanied by an excessive ticking sound. Removal of the timing chain and related hardware is expensive, so don’t skip this important check.
Other considerations include shopping for a used Grand Vitara that hasn’t been modified in terms of suspension or wheels and tires, as these sorts of modifications can negatively affect long-term durability of certain parts. Be sure to have a mechanic go over the underside of the vehicle in question too, inspecting for signs of past damage or abuse in an off-road setting. Finally, if you’re unsure of the service history on the model you’re considering, budget for a full fluid change, including the transfer case and differential fluids, to be safe.
Grand Vitara is far from the only small crossover option in its segment, though it does appeal for its use of a high-capability 4x4 system and relatively confident off-road capabilities. If you’re set on this model, get a thumbs-up from a mechanic and ensure there’s a Suzuki dealer and garage in your locale for maximum peace of mind. If buying at a used car dealer, this one’s a good candidate for extended warranty coverage, if available. Cross shop against the Jeep Wrangler if you’re after an off-road ready model.