Overall, the Grand Vitara's interior can feel quite basic in its lesser trims, but our V6 Limited test vehicle, at about $27k, felt quite extravagant, with nice heated leather seats, heated mirrors, a garage-door opener, keyless entry and start, and XM satellite radio. However the sound system was a letdown, with boomy, muddled sound coming from the door panels paired with flimsy tweeters up by the A-pillars together producing an unsatisfying result, with rock music especially.
The real star of the interior however is the included Garmin touch-screen navigation system, which is right at the top of the dash and flips up easily only when needed. It has a bright color screen and includes lane assist and a 3D view that's better than what many other OEM systems have, plus in the Limited it includes MSN Direct, with gas prices, news, weather, and even flight information—with a year of service included.
The Grand Vitara has a true neutral setting for the Four Mode four-wheel drive system, which makes it a good choice for flat towing behind RVs. On the off-road side, the Limited upgrades to Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control, which helps maintain stability.
While some things change, others stay the same. One continued disappointment is that the cargo floor is a bit higher than you might expect. The side-opening tailgate is definitely one of those things that you should test at the dealership or better yet out on the test drive with a load of groceries, but with a strut mechanism to assist you it's not nearly as difficult to open as you might expect, looking at the hatch-mounted spare. On the plus side, the Grand Vitara's backseat is proportioned just right to fit two adults comfortably.
Although we think Suzuki could use a compact crossover in its lineup—especially one that has the Kizashi's new attitude—we understand that a relatively small brand in the U.S. needs to pick its battles. And with a level of toughness and SUV authenticity, combined with refinement, in the Grand Vitara, there's already a lot to like.