By KBB.com Editors
The junior member of Suzuki's appealing sport utility vehicle lineup, the compact 2009 Grand Vitara provides a comfortable, versatile and very livable alternative to a conventional station wagon or crossover utility vehicle – and has the power and mechanical capability to complete its mission on or off the road. Available in base, Premium, XSport and Luxury trim, this slick Suzuki offers room for five, a generous assortment of standard features plus the choice of rear- or full-time four-wheel drive, and wraps it in one of the longest and most owner-friendly warranties in the business. It needs all of that to compete in one of the toughest and most heavily populated markets, a segment where it must take on everything from the Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Mitsubishi Outlander and Saturn VUE to the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.
Those seeking a combination of practicality and capability in a vehicle that's easy to drive, easy to live with and doesn't cost a fortune in gas should find the 2009 Grand Vitara well worth a look. The availability of the 4-Mode full-time four-wheel drive system adds even more all-season and on- and off-road appeal to the mix.
Buyers who demand a premium level interior with such options as navigation may be happier with the Honda CR-V. Those who expect a high resale value when it comes time to trade in their cars won't be happy with the Grand Vitara's middle-of-the-pack ranking.
Along with a revised front end, the 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara touts two new engines: a 2.4-liter four cylinder and a 3.2-liter V6. Interior improvements include illuminated steering wheel controls, a sliding feature added to the center armrest and sun visors and improved ventilation and audio controls.
Driving Impressions Rear-drive or four-wheel drive, the 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara has a solid feel, thanks to its integrated body-frame construction that combines the best of unitized design with supplemental full length...and width structural rails. Its compact size and fairly tight 36.0-foot turning circle makes maneuvering easy even in relatively tight confines. Tire drone and wind noise do get a bit more pronounced on rougher roads and at higher speeds, but overall isolation levels are livable if not best-in-class. Standard stability control and anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution give the Grand Vitara a confident character regardless of the number of wheels being driven. Hard cornering does elicit some body roll, but not an excessive amount; after all, it's not a sports car. The supplemental low-gear range gives four-wheel drive versions impressive off-road capability, although the additional weight does impact on-road performance and fuel economy.
Optional 4-Mode Full-Time Four-Wheel-Drive
The Grand Vitara's versatile 4-Mode full-time four-wheel-drive system features a locking differential with 4HI, 4HI and 4LO lock modes and incorporates a locking center differential to help tame everything from slick pavement to rocky trails. It also has a convenient "neutral" setting that permits easy flat-towing, such as behind a motor home.
Available SmartPass Keyless Entry System
A feature normally found on more expensive vehicles, the available SmartPass system lets you leave the key/transmitter in your pocket or purse and lock and unlock the Grand Vitara by pushing a button on the door handle and start or stop the engine by turning a switch on the steering column.
The Grand Vitara's tastefully designed cabin complements hard-plastic trim elements with numerous soft-touch surfaces. Cloth upholstery and silver plastic accents on the base, Premium and XSport are replaced by leather and faux wood in the Luxury model. All boast legible instruments, logical control layouts and three 12-volt power points. The comfortable front seats provide good lateral support while the seatbacks of the 60/40-split rear bench offer adjustable reclining and room for two six-foot adults or three kids. Flipping and tumbling both sides to their forward position increases cargo capacity from 24.4 cubic feet to 68.9 cubic feet (marginally less with the optional sunroof).Exterior
The Grand Vitara applies traditional SUV styling cues to a scaled-down package with just the right rounding of contours to yield a clean and contemporary appearance. Up front, its black mesh grille and lower front air-intake inserts are punctuated by a prominent chrome Suzuki logo, while the large right-hinged rear tailgate mounts a full-size spare tire in an available lockable hard-shell case. A large upright glass area ensures good driver sightlines, and well-sized doors, plus a big swinging tailgate to simplify loading of people and cargo. Purposefully bulged fenders house 225/70 all-season tires fitted to 16-inch steel wheels on the base model and aluminum rims on the XSport, while the top-line Luxury model has 225/65 tires on larger 17-inch alloys.
All 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitaras include a generous set of standard features. Even the rear-drive base model with a five-speed manual transmission includes power windows, locks and mirrors, 16-inch wheels, automatic digital climate control, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, tilt steering wheel and automatic headlamps. The Premium adds privacy glass, a spare tire cover, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls and on four-wheel drive models, heated side mirrors. Step up to the XSport or the leather-trimmed Luxury model and you gain a five-speed automatic transmission Hill Descent Control and Hill Hold Control, upgraded audio package with six-disc CD changer, power sunroof, roof rails, SmartPass keyless entry and starting, fog lamps, alloy wheels and more. On the safety front, Electronic Stability Program ,anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags are standard across the lineup.
Beyond the specific feature enhancements included in each of its three trim levels, Grand Vitara factory extras are relatively few. Base model buyers can opt for the automatic transmission, hard-shell spare-tire case and a cargo cover while the 4-Mode full-time four-wheel-drive system is available on all Grand Vitaras. Key dealer-installed options include Bluetooth wireless connectivity, XM Satellite Radio and an iPod integration kit.
A new 2.4-liter four cylinder is added to the lineup, offering improved fuel economy and a lower base price. The 2.4-liter produces 166 horsepower and earns an impressive 26 miles per gallon highway when teamed with the standard five-speed manual transmission. The XSport and Luxury models are powered by an all-new 3.2-liter V6 engine that makes 230 horsepower, an increase of 45 additional horsepower over last year's 2.7-liter V6. Despite the increase in power, the new V6 delivers better fuel economy estimates in both city and highway driving. Both rear-drive and four-wheel drive models can tow up to a 3,000-pound trailer.
2.4-liter in-line 4
166 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (RWD, manual), 19/25 (RWD, automatic), 19/25 (4WD, manual), 19/23 (4WD, automatic)
230 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
213 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (RWD), 17/23 (4WD)
By jeff on Friday, July 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,250overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "great in snow"
Cons: "cant keep drive train running,poor gas millage for"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Bought new from dealer. Have only 43250 miles In 5yrs. Have had replaced traction/brake controller$2500,transfer case failure replaced ,clutch,transition replaced ,rear wheel drive shaft replaced,latest rear end gears went south replaced,now having vibrations from drive train issues awaiting suzuki tech's salutations as to what next is wrong with the Drive train. Have had replaced rear window due to driving not working. Had factory recalls done for Main belt mentioned also for passenger's air bag controller in seat replaced. I have replaced all four tires $700 have had wheel alignments done oil changes replaced air filters. All in just 43250miles. I really enjoy my suzuki it is great in our winters here in the east. But in my opinion I have a lemon plane and simple. Glad I bought their extended warranties cause this has been the worst care I've ever own and my only NEW car I've ever bought. Most likely last. Will let someone else enjoy ALL The new car repairs needed to keep the thing rolling back and forth to my work of only 4mile trip each way to work and back"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By JP on Sunday, June 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "4wd great and climate control great."
Cons: "Windows fog up."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"After looking at the interior or Rav 4 while shopping for a new car, the Rav4 and Grand Vitara look similar, they have the same features."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By DJ B on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great ride. Comfortable seating. Luxury feel."
Cons: "low beams mainly (read review) Only 19mpg Highway"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought brand new with 7 miles on the odometer in March '06. In more than 8 years I have replaced tires ($700), & Cat. Converter ($900). Minor cheap maintenance such as alignments, and oil changes w/tire rotations. Battery replaced ($100) after 6 years. My wife would constantly leave interior lights on throughout the night, so... NO Engine issues. NO tranny issues. NO electrical issues EVER. In fact the transmission shifts so smoothly I have to listen for it. I have leather seats that are SO comfortable. I have seen bmws, lexus, etc. with leather seats that start to fade, crack, split and look terrible after 80K, but NOT my Suzuki. After I clean/condition it, it still looks brand new and firm even when approaching 110K! The car runs strong even after 3 accidents. Yes, 3. I was never at fault, and the car was in the body shop for a TOTAL of 8 weeks. After all the body repairs, this car still runs like the day I got it! My title will most likely be a "salvage", but I really don't care. The car took 2 rear end hits and a fender bender like it was no big deal. Never been garaged or overly pampered. The OEM tires need to be replaced as soon as you can! Buy a good set and it will transform your car and will actually last a lot longer than the ones that came on the GV (yokohomo, IIRC) My key FOB is great. It senses where keys are. You cant lock your keys in the car! Its impossible. Unlocking it requires me to be close to the car. It senses the key in my pocket. Cons: (Known issues with these GV) - I feel its a little "noisy" in the cabin. Not a lot. Music will drown that out quickly. - Alignments can be tricky. Expect 2/yr. I had to tell the Suzuki dealer that there is a new alignment spec for these cars. They kept going until they got it right. - Low beam headlights aren't the brightest, even with aftermarket bulbs. Its common with these cars to go through bulbs quite frequently. I can go 3-8 months between bulb changes. - Small issue, but I WISH it chimed when the gas gets low. The only indicator is a small orange light. -The car comes with something that I refer to as "Downhill Brake Assist". When you are traveling down a hill, and begin to brake, the car will drop gear for you to prevent you from accidentally losing control I guess. While not really an issue, it takes a while to get used to this! That's it. Good in snow w/o snow tires. Great in heavy rain with good rain tires. I strongly recommend buying one!"
By Al on Monday, May 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great small SUV, very roomy, great on gas."
Cons: "Slow on the take off! But great on straight away."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this SUV seven years it has started everyday, very reliable. It's great on gas. The only thing I have replaced are tires in seven years. I have to admit its a little slow on the take-off, but fast on the straight away."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Lady Di on Monday, April 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "easy to drive & park"
Cons: "prefer better mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is very dependable and never required anything but normal maintenance - basically oil changes, wipers & headlights."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By PA driver on Saturday, April 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good on gas and full of luxury features"
Cons: "Oil filter is in the most unreachable spot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife drives this SUV through snow and slush all winter long. I put Michelins on it instead of the junk OEM tires and nothing can stop this vehicle."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful