Cargo & Towing

As noted, the Grand Vitara's maximum trailer weight is 3,000 pounds — twice that of the CR-V and four-cylinder Escape, but less than the Escape V6, which has car-based construction and better mileage.

The side-opening swing gate is another strike against the Grand Vitara. The design is necessary when you want to carry the spare tire on the back, but it requires a lot of space behind the car to open. Also, it swings toward the curb, so you're forced to load the cargo hatch from the street rather than the sidewalk. Current generations of the CR-V and Jeep Liberty have replaced their swing gates with liftgates, but the Toyota RAV4 still has the curb-side swing.

Compact SUV Cargo Volume (cu. ft.) Behind backseat Backseat folded Ford Escape 29.2 66.3
Honda CR-V 35.7 72.9
Jeep Patriot 23.0 62.7
Suzuki Grand Vitara 24.4 68.9 Toyota RAV4 36.4 73.0
Source: manufacturer data

In cargo capacity, the Grand Vitara is midpack when the rear seats are folded, but it's only slightly better than the Patriot behind the backseat and it significantly trails the rest. More of a problem, in my opinion, is the way the folding seats operate. Where most folding seats go into the floor and create a continuous cargo floor, the lowered Grand Vitara backrests are high. By pulling a strap at the seat's rear, you can tumble the whole seat forward 90 degrees, which helps, but then the seat might bang into the front seatback every time you hit the brakes. There's an old-school tether meant to secure the tumbled seat, but it attaches to the front seat's head restraint post. I can't say I've seen that before; usually it ties to a pillar. Even when cinched up tight, the backseat kept tugging on my seat. Again, annoying.

See also:

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