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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
highway passing can take patience with automatic transmission
kicks down a gear or two on barely perceptible upgrades
Cars and Driver
Merging on the freeway and climbing hills requires only modest throttle input
The 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara may be good for off-road expeditions, but overall it's only average. For the 2010 model year, the Grand Vitara is available with two engines: a four and a V-6-as are many of its competitors. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers EPA fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 highway with the five-speed manual, and 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway with the four-speed automatic.
Discussing the base 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, Motor Trend notes, "Merging on the freeway and climbing hills requires only modest throttle input, as does passing on the freeway," and says "the old-school four-speed transmission" notably "hampers the Grand Vitara," explaining that "in most situations it's not a problem, but if you hit an incline on the freeway, things get ugly." Edmunds adds that the 0-to-60-mph time of 10.2 seconds with the 166-hp four-cylinder engine is "slightly slower than the last all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V we tested."
In terms of fuel economy, Motor Trend reports the new four-cylinder "on regular-grade gas, got an average of 23.92 mpg in 90 percent highway driving, achieving a personal best of 24.56 mpg."
The larger 3.2-liter V-6 engine offered in the 2010 Grand Vitara XSport and Luxury models produces 230 horsepower and 213 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a more modern five-speed automatic transmission. It is rated by the EPA at 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway-the mileage for either engine is bested by others in the class.
Edmunds says the 3.2-liter V-6 isn't "necessarily a top choice for major towing duty," although with that engine "the Grand Vitara can tug up to 3,000 pounds." Motor Trend suggests "torque may be the culprit" for its seeming lack of thrust, "as the Grand Vitara's peak twist resides at 4,500 rpm." ConsumerGuide reports that "highway passing can take patience with the automatic transmission, which downshifts readily for more power," and "the manual transmission doesn't change gears smoothly when rushed."
Kelley Blue Book mentions that "hard cornering does elicit some body roll, but not an excessive amount." ConsumerGuide reports "marked body lean but good grip in fast corners," and points out that the steering is "nicely weighted," along with a turning circle that "is commendably tight," although "test AWD models exhibited some front driveline binding when turned fully to either side." They also note that "firm, easy-to-modulate brakes provided good stopping control."
Unlike some competitors, the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara provides legitimate underpinnings for drivers who take their off-roading seriously. Suzuki offers a dual-range, Four Mode four-wheel-drive system that includes a two-speed transfer case, providing low-range gearing for uses like climbing rough trails. According to Cars.com, "the four-wheel-drive system has a Low range and is intended for use only on slippery surfaces." There's also fully automatic single-mode all-wheel-drive option. Once the 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara leaves the pavement, according to Car and Driver, it really shines: "off-road, the Grand Vitara was pure Viagra, nearly as solid and capable as the Jeep."
The 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara gets mixed reviews for performance: commendable off-road, but sometimes sluggish when passing at speed.