Styling

The Grand Vitara has been around in its current form since the 2006 model year, and its exterior design has aged quite well. It's one of the more conservatively styled crossovers out there, with a clean, well-proportioned look about it. (To see a side-by-side comparison of the 2009 and 2010 Grand Vitara, click here.)

The Grand Vitara has a full-size spare tire attached to its rear swing gate. It gives the crossover a more rugged look, but the gate's design can limit access to the cargo area; it's hinged on the passenger side and swings out wide, so if you're parallel-parked you might have to move the Grand Vitara to open the gate without hitting the car behind you. The passenger-side hinge also means the gate blocks curbside access when it's open.

V-6 Performance, Off-Road Features

I tested a top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive Limited trim level with the optional 230-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6. With just a handful of options totaling $524, our as-tested price came to nearly $28,000.

Around town, the V-6 makes the Grand Vitara feel energetic and lively. It's matched with a five-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly, and overall drivetrain refinement is good.

The V-6's responses are modest on the highway, but it keeps pace with fast-moving traffic without straining.

Crossover Gas Mileage (city/highway, mpg) All ratings are for automatic transmission models. Sorted by four-cylinder gas mileage.

4-cyl. 2WD 4-cyl. 4WD V-6 2WD V-6 4WD 2010 Chevrolet Equinox 22/32 20/29 17/25 17/24 2010 Hyundai Tucson 23/31 21/28 -- -- 2010 Toyota RAV4 22/28 21/27 19/27 19/26 2010 Honda CR-V 21/28 21/27 -- -- 2010 Ford Escape 21/28 20/26 19/25 18/23 2010 Nissan Rogue 22/27 21/26 -- -- 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander 21/27 21/25 19/25 18/24 2010 Subaru Forester -- 20/26* -- -- 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara 19/25 19/23 18/24 17/23 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan 18/24 18/24 -- -- *Turbocharged Forester gets 19/24 mpg.

Source: fueleconomy.gov

The Grand Vitara differs from crossover competitors in a few key ways. Like them, it features unibody construction, but it also incorporates a traditional ladder frame for extra strength. It's also the only one with an optional low-range four-wheel-drive system for difficult off-road driving, and that's supplemented by 7.9 inches of ground clearance on four-wheel-drive models (7.4 inches on two-wheel-drive versions). V-6 models with the low-range system also get hill descent control and hill start assist to help manage the Grand Vitara's progress on challenging terrain.

See also:

Emergency Service
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Clutch Pedal
Clutch Pedal Check the clutch pedal for smooth operation and clutch fluid level from time to time. If clutch dragging is felt with the pedal fully depressed, have the clutch inspected by your S ...

Warning and Indicator Lights
Front Passenger’s Seat Belt Reminder Light The front passenger’s seat belt reminder light is located in the center of the instrument panel. If there is a passenger in the front seat and the ...

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