When I think of an affordable compact SUV, images of a Suzuki are not what first comes to mind. With an already full class of contenders, what could the Grand Vitara do to stand out?

The exterior of the Grand Vitara is appealing, I will give it that. Our Limited model came with 18″ wheels that provided an aggressive stance on the smaller size but the road noise associated with the larger tires provided that a not-so-grand roaring sound as a majority of driving does in fact occur in the city. The Grand Vitara offers a great view of the highway with limited visibility issues. The typical stiff ride one comes to find in an SUV wasn’t horrible but don’t expect cushiness when crossing a set of railroad tracks or a rough patch on the highway. It does alright, but nothing more.

The 3.2L V6 was responsive but for something this size, the fuel economy wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The initial estimated until empty flashed 275 miles but it came up short after less than a week of long highway driving. When pennies are being pinched and cheap gas is at the $3 mark, the consumer wants a compact SUV that is fuel efficient but the Grand Vitara doesn’t measure up. Suzuki estimates 17mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway and with a 17.4 gallon tank, you do the math.

The Grand Vitara offers the safety and security that is typical. Front and side impact air bags, 100,000 mile/7-year powertrain limited warranty that is fully transferable, tire pressure monitoring, ABS, Electronic Stability, Homelink, Smartpass keyless entry and ignition. There are not many options as most come with the trim package associated, ours being the Limited. The dash is simple and easy, not over the top with all black finishes and silver accents. The tacky faux black marble used sparingly could be left out completely though. The pop-up removable Garmin navigation had it’s own place to rest in the center of the dash providing a clear view while driving.

The ability to remove the GPS device to enter data is nice and easy to use. The leather seating is included but the seats are not as comfortable as they could be. Stiff and somewhat cheap, the idea of remaining in them for a long road trip doesn’t leave me excited. The heated seat feature only allows for one temperature and it seems to trickle off the longer it is left on to the point you don’t even realize the heat is even on. Leg room was ample in both front and rear seating surprisingly. A power tilt and slide sunroof, cruise control, tilt leather steering wheel, power windows/doors/locks, heated mirrors, CD/AM/FM 7-speaker audio wrap up the comfort and convenience associated with the Grand Vitara. Additional features (the all season cargo mat, floor mats, premium metallic paint and Bluetooth) brought the Suzuki to $27,653. Though the radio is XM capable, it is not included nor was there a iPod adaptor for the USB port. The quality of the audio wasn’t anything worth bragging about either. The rear cargo isn’t spectacular – it lacks in actual floor space, is compensated with height for those motivated enough to stack and arrange their belongings in order to shove them all in without laying the rear seats down.

There wasn’t anything that made the Grand Vitara scream “HEY LOOK AT ME!” It was just simply OK. Not great, not bad, just OK. Can any manufacturer afford to just be OK? If Suzuki really wanted to gain interest, I feel a lowered price instead of remaining so close to their competition would give them a better edge. The interest would spark if the Limited came in under about $5000 less but for this price, I just don’t see the Grand Vitara at the top of any list.

About The Author

Sarah Mullins is Blast's Automotive Editor

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