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2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara X-Sport

Second Time’s A Charm   

     Last winter we had the chance to sample the Luxury version of the Grand Vitara. It was then we said that Suzuki finally had a serious contender in the small-SUV game. Considering how impressed we were with this little runt the last time around we didn’t expect anything less from a so called “lesser” model, and so we welcomed the Grand V for a second round in AT’s fleet.
     Little discernable difference exists between the exterior of this model and our more expensive Luxury model. The same handsome face with projection beam headlights rolls along on the same short, stout, and upright body. Rolling stock consisted of 16” 5-spoke alloys in place of 17” 5-spoke alloys. Sure the 17’s are a bit more stylish but few will really miss them. Instead of Shining Red Pearl our ruggedly handsome tester was bathed in Racy Red and the spare tire cover wore a unique graphic decal. And while Suzuki’s color designations don’t reflect the rugged attitude some of the male buyers may prefer, a Silky Silver Metallic Grand Vitara might just offer something attractive for both sexes.
     Inside we find the same quality pieces as in our upscale Grand V. Materials are soft touch where they need to be and cleverly fashioned. Metallic look pieces are splashed throughout the cabin to break up the otherwise monotone black interior. Trim pieces from the shoulder level up are a lighter grey, but the cabin is still dark.     Personally, we found the Luxury model’s cabin to be a cozier place to perch for a while, warm and inviting in shades of beige. But the black/grey on red theme does suggest sporty. We didn’t really miss the faux wood trim either. But look past the monotonous colors and you will see seats trimmed in as good as or better than Mazda quality cloth. Again our model came equipped with the SmartPass keyless entry and ignition system but this time around our crew was a little more welcoming once the prior conveniences had been fully realized.
     Down in the engine room we find the same 2.7-liter V6 that was found in our last two Suzuki SUV’s, the previous Grand Vitara and an XL-7. It is a tried and true motor but on the smaller side of the competition. Still, with only 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque and 3682 pounds to motivate, the Grand Vitara manages quite well thanks to its wonderful 5-speed auto. We sang its praises last time around and we are singing them again. This tranny does the best it can with what it has to work with. While it would be nice if an extra 20 or 25 stallions showed up for duty, all Grand Vitara’s are rated to haul up to a 3000-pound trailer, which means toting your 480-pound Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle will be no problem. Last, but certainly not least, the Grand Vitara’s drivetrain is a true rear-wheel-drive-based 4-wheel drive system. The engine is longitudinally mounted and power flows to the rear tires first. You won’t find jittery steering inputs from nasty torque steer like on other competitive cute-utes.
     A couple years ago it was very easy to bypass the Suzuki dealership, in fact it was advised. But nowadays the Grand Vitara gives Suzuki a serious contender in the small SUV category. Carrying a window sticker of only $22,699, our X-Sport edition Grand V handily undercuts the likes of the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox, and it carries a fantastic 100,000-mile 7-year warranty. Yeah, we had concerns about the “lesser” Grand V satisfying our already whetted tastes, but those concerns were quickly put to the curb.

The Good:
Fantastic 5-speed, fantastic warranty, fantastic trimmings, ruggedly handsome.
The Bad:
2.7-liter V6 and rear drum brakes.
The Verdict:
The budget trucklet that doesn’t make you feel like you’re on a budget, just add 20 horsepower please!


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