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.

See also:

Seat Belts and Child Restraint Systems
WARNING: An air bag supplements, or adds to, the frontal crash protection offered by seat belts. The driver and all passengers must be properly restrained by wearing seat belts at all time ...

Steering Wheel
Steering Wheel Check the play of the steering wheel by gently turning it from left to right and measuring the distance that it moves before you feel slight resistance. The play should be betw ...

Assist Grips (if equipped)
Assist Grips (if equipped) Assist grips are provided for convenience. CAUTION: To avoid damaging the assist grip and the molded headlining, do not hang down the assist grip. ...

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