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2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Overview
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2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 5.1

The Suzuki Grand Vitara can feel like an orphan in the compact SUV segment. While competitors such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson sell in droves, Suzuki's lone SUV often falls off buyers' radar – if they even know about its existence in the first place. Without significant updates since 2006 and its reliance on an outdated powertrain, it's easy to see why the Grand Vitara is in this predicament. Yet the GV is not without its merits. The 2012 Grand Vitara has a starting price below $21,000 and remains among the few compact SUVs that are capable off-road, especially when equipped with a 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system that has low-range gearing. The Suzuki Grand Vitara is also a friend to RV owners, since certain models can be flat-towed.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a small, relatively inexpensive SUV that's rear-wheel drive (RWD) or offers low-range gearing for better off-road capability, the Grand Vitara might be worth a look.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Grand Vitara lacks the power, fuel economy, sophistication and dealer network of competitors such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and Kia Sportage. If serious off-roading is your thing, a Jeep Liberty or Nissan Xterra might suit you better.

What's New for 2012

Only minor changes are in store for 2012 Grand Vitara models, including a slightly modified tailgate design (that nixes the spare tire on some models) and upgrades to the navigation system that include voice recognition and information such as traffic and weather updates.

Driving the Grand Vitara

Driving Impressions Suzuki's Grand Vitara is a suitable partner for short commutes or longer journeys that involve off-pavement excursions. The GV's integrated unit body and strong ladder frame create a solid platform,...

and its independent suspension feels well-controlled. Athletic it's not, and with only one engine option good for just 166 horsepower, it's near the bottom of its class in terms of power output. Technically the Mazda CX-5 has less horsepower but, unlike the Grand Vitara, that small SUV is a hoot to drive. The GV does have precise steering and a relatively tight turning radius of 36 feet, which means better access to parking spaces and less of those embarrassing 3-way turns. One of the Grand Vitara's few high points is the 4-mode 4-wheel-drive system in top-of-the-line models. The system makes the SUV suitable for rolling over snow, mud and rocks.

4-MODE FULL-TIME 4WD
Available only on the highest-trim (and thus most expensive) version of the Grand Vitara, this system stands out among the current crop of small SUVs and "soft-roaders" because it has low-range gearing. Low-range gearing is usually reserved for serious off-road vehicles, as it helps them traverse steep, rugged terrain.


NAVIGATION SYSTEM
Every trim level of the Grand Vitara comes with an integrated touch-screen navigation system that also relays traffic information, gas prices, flight times and other useful, up-to-the-minute information.

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Details
Interior

The 2012 Grand Vitara has a pleasant, functional interior that can seat up to five in its two rows. The cabin is not overly exciting, but neither is it complicated. Large dials make it easy to turn up the air conditioning or dial down the volume when that annoying commercial comes on the radio. Cloth seating is standard, with leather available in Limited versions. Hard plastic remains, but gauges and dials are easy to read. Fold-and-tumble rear seats help create plenty of space for groceries or for hauling home that flat-screen TV.

Exterior

Suzuki's Grand Vitara has traditional SUV looks: Boxy, confident and exuding strength. The vehicle's sharp angles stand in contrast to the curvy looks of modern crossovers, but still hold up relatively well in the half-dozen years it's been since the GV was redesigned. The vehicle features 7.4 inches of ground clearance, decent for off-roading but well short of the 8.7 inches found on the Subaru Forester. An old-fashioned swing-out rear door can make loading cargo a hassle if parked in a tight space. Base and Premium models come with 16-inch wheels, while Limited versions ride on larger 18-inchers that help sharpen the vehicle's handling.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The biggest surprise about the 2012 Grand Vitara is that even base models come with a touch-screen navigation system that is an asset for not just finding the best route to your destination, but for obtaining movie times, the weather forecast and more. All GVs also come with automatic climate control, automatic head lights, keyless entry and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/satellite radio. All new Suzuki autos come with a transferable 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Optional Equipment

Most options for the Grand Vitara are bundled with trim levels. Premium trim models add cruise control, Bluetooth and available full-time 4-wheel drive. Top-of-the-line Grand Vitaras in Limited trim have a power sunroof, leather seats, premium 7-speaker audio system with subwoofer and 18-inch wheels. Limited models are the only versions available with the 4-mode 4-wheel drive system.

Under the Hood

Since dropping the V6 option after the 2010 model year, the Grand Vitara retains just one engine choice: A 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 166 horsepower; this engine is now among the least-powerful in the segment and further shows its age by being connected to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Base models are linked to a 5-speed manual transmission that earns a respectable 26 mpg on the highway.

2.4-liter inline-4
166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (RWD, manual), 19/25 (RWD, automatic),
19/23 (4WD, automatic)

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Buying this car?

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.2
Out of 10

Based on 200 Ratings for the 2006 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    8.8/10

It has been reliable and comfortable.

By on Sunday, June 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Excellent Value and Reliability

By on Friday, June 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Great little vehicle

By on Monday, May 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

6 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Never neededanything other than normal maintenance

By on Monday, April 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

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."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Solid, dependable, comfortable, unstoppable

By on Saturday, April 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

4 people out of 9 found this review helpful

170k miles with no issues!!

By on Saturday, April 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 170,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Everything!!"

Cons: "Nothing comes to mind any more"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is my annual review of the vehicle. Last review Feb '13 at 145k. '07 Grand Vitara survives another brutal winter in Northern Mi in style. This is the most amazing vehicle ever. Finally, a minor maintenance issue: insignificant leaks from rear axle seal and transfer case. Cost $320. Not bad after 7 yrs and 170k miles. Suzuki pulls out of US market. GM posts record profits amidst major recalls. You be the judge."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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