A True Off-Roader?

Even though the spare tire isn't strapped to the undercarriage, the departure angle isn't great: 26 degrees. The offroad-capable Jeep Patriot's measures 32 degrees, and even the Escape — which makes no claim of offroad chops — has a 28 degree departure angle. The Grand Vitara's approach and breakover angles are similarly competitive but not exceptional.

It doesn't help that the Grand Vitara's ground clearance is listed as 7.4 inches. A true offroader has to provide better clearance. This is roughly what you get in the CR-V and RAV4; the Escape rides 8.4 inches off the ground and the Patriot starts at 8 inches and grows to 9 inches of clearance with the Freedom Drive II package.

The Grand Vitara's ostensible advantage over the others — excepting rock-crawling stalwarts like the Wrangler and Liberty — is its dual-range transfer case (the Patriot's atypical lowest CVT gear ratio is an effective alternative, but it's not a true separate low gear). The optional driveline is technically a permanent four-wheel-drive system, which means it's always activated and can't be switched to a rear-drive mode, even though it's based on rear-wheel drive. In normal driving, traction is aided by a standard electronic stability system and its four-wheel traction control. A dashboard knob offers 4H (4WD high) and 4H Lock, which locks the center differential. The low range is labeled 4L Lock. There's also an N (neutral) setting that lets you tow the Grand Vitara four-wheels-down behind, say, a motorhome.

See also:

Towing a Disabled Vehicle
Emergency Towing If your vehicle is disabled, it may be towed by a tow truck using one of the following methods: 1) Tow the vehicle with two wheels lifted by the tow truck and the other two whee ...

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 ...

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 times, ...

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