2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara review By Colette Fischer

Suzuki Grand Vitara / Reviews / 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara review By Colette Fischer

Getting a good deal feels good. Strike that - it feels glorious. For instance, just the other day I bought a new pair of cords because they were just too good a deal to pass up. After a few enthusiastic glimpses in the mirror (while my 3-year-old oozed buckets of drool while licking his reflection), I decided they fit the bill and hurriedly took them to the cashier. Giddy with joy over scoring such a deal, I joined my son in skipping out to the car.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara impresses in much the same way. It may not be a glitzy brand, but it packs some serious value. Suzuki has cast aside frivolous fluff in favor of functional features at an extremely attractive price for a four-wheel-drive SUV: $23,749. That figure includes a standard sunroof; a six-disc CD changer; multiple steering-wheel controls; split, reclining rear seats; heated sideview mirrors; and keyless start. Not bad, huh? I suspect many a family might be willing to compromise when this car's pros and cons are tallied up. To see how the '08 Grand Vitara compares with last year's version, check out a side-by-side comparison.

Keyless entry and start are easy to get addicted to, especially in cold weather. Usually I rush the kids out the door on frigid school mornings while picking up a trail of lagging belongings, conveniently dropped because 'it's sooo cold.' Needless to say, my hands are full with carrying, towing and ferrying over snow, and the faster I get my gang into the car with the heat cranking, the better. That's why I truly appreciated the ability to clip my keys into my purse while still inside and avoid that last-minute key-search out in the cold. Just push the exterior door handle button and the door unlocks effortlessly. Then hop into the driver seat, with purse nearby, turn the ignition dial and the motor starts right up. What a fantastic time-saver!

I was also impressed with the Grand Vitara's lineup of airbags, which includes dual-stage front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. I also appreciated knowing the car was outfitted with an electronic stability system and a tire pressure monitoring system. It's good to know Suzuki doesn't skimp on safety to keep prices down.

The rear of the cabin proved to be very basic. My kids had trouble getting at the rear cupholders, which are too low to the floor on the back of the center console; we even had a spill because of their awkward placement. There are, however, pockets on the back of the driver and passenger seats where the kids can stow their books (and maybe even a skinny water bottle), plus small compartments in the doors to store their leftover snacks.

Speaking of snacks, on one outing my boys enjoyed some yogurt tubes in the backseat, one of which apparently had a mind of its own (well, that or one of my boys got squirt happy). Either way, I had what appeared to be a small mess. After an unsuccessful cleanup attempt with a baby wipe, though, I realized round two would require a more robust cleaning strategy. I was aghast at how much effort it took to rub the small streaks of yogurt out of the cloth interior. This should have been a minor task, but my red, raw scrubbing hands on that frigid day would tell another story. Yet more proof that cloth seats are to be avoided at any cost.

Suzuki's Grand Vitara wasn't thrilling to drive, but it's pleasant enough - and pleasure becomes relative when price enters the mix. If you're part of a family of four that's looking for functionality AND great value, this SUV might just have you shouting for joy.

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