Ride & Handling

The Grand Vitara has independent front and rear suspensions, which remains the exception among offroad vehicles, but I didn't find the ride particularly carlike. The firmness is more like a conventional truck's, and both I and some of my colleagues rate it on the low end of compact-SUV comfort. My test car had the standard 16-inch wheels and thus taller tire sidewalls, so it's possible the optional 17-inch wheels and lower-series tires (standard on the Luxury trim level) would be firmer still.

In terms of handling, the Grand Vitara feels reasonably grounded for an off-roader, but it's not sporty. The suspension allows for some sideways hop when cornering on rough pavement. At 36 feet, the turning diameter is decent, especially compared to the Honda CR-V, which needs almost 2 feet more, even with front-wheel drive. That said, the Grand Vitara's driveline noticeably binds when you turn with the steering wheel turned all the way. Not to say it's damaging itself, but it doesn't feel right.

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