In a market dominated by notable names such as Toyota and Honda, the often overlooked Suzuki Vitara and Grand Vitara represents the hidden gems in the mini sport utility class. Both vehicles offer everything their counter parts do and more. For example, the Vitara comes in both 2- and 4-door trim. The 2-door version is the choice for young enthusiast drivers on the go, and among its features are a removable canvas top, 4-passenger seating and a price tag of $15,599. The 4-door version, which comes in at $16,799, is bit larger and is aimed at a more mature audience. One look at the Vitara and it’s easy to see this mini utility is not your run-of-the-mill teenage fashion cruiser. Its allover appearance, while not head turning, is strong and serious. Under the hood of both models is a 2.0 liter inline 4 producing 127 bhp at 6000 rpm and 134 lb.-ft. of torque at 3000 rpm. It mates to either the standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic with lock up torque converter.
The rear drive JS is for the on-road crowd; the 4wd JLX, with its shift on the fly 2-speed transfer case, is for the mudslingers among us. The 2-door Vitara is extremely nimble; its diminutive size is ideal for in-town commuting. It rides on an 86.6-in. wheelbase and features a taut MacPhersonstrut front suspension and a live axle at the rear. The 4-door Vitara is also quite agile, despite being 11-in. longer than its 2-door stablemate.