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:

Highway Driving
When driving at highway speeds, pay attention to the following: • Stopping distance progressively increases with vehicle speed. Apply the brakes far enough ahead of the stopping point to allow ...

Instrument Light Brightness Control
Instrument Light Brightness Control Your vehicle has a system to automatically dim the instrument panel lights when the ignition switch is in the “ON” position and the lighting switch is tur ...

Warranties
The warranties covering your vehicle are explained in a separate New Vehicle Warranty Information booklet given to you at the time of sale. Please read this booklet carefully so you can understand ...

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