2001 Grand Vitara XL-7 New Car Test Drive
The new Suzuki XL-7 is more than just the largest sport-utility vehicle the company has ever made. Based on the smaller Grand Vitara, the XL-7 gets a longer wheelbase and a more powerful V6 engine. Plus, seats up to seven passengers, with a tiny third-row bench as standard equipment (a first in this class of SUVs). Overall, the XL-7 is longer than the Jeep Cherokee, wider than the Toyota RAV4, and more powerful than the Subaru Forester. Still, it's a lot smaller than either the Dodge Durango or four-door Ford Explorer. Suzuki calls the XL-7 'sensibly sized.'
The XL-7's advantages are price and maneuverability. Compared with the Durango and Explorer, the XL-7 is easier to park and costs thousands less.
Suzuki's XL-7 is available in four trim levels: Standard, Plus, Touring, and Limited. All can be ordered with either rear- or four-wheel drive.
Prices start at $19,799 for the rear-wheel drive Standard model, which includes air conditioning, power windows, door locks, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. The four-wheel drive Touring we tested topped-out at just under $25,000 and included antilock brakes, alloy wheels, a premium stereo system, and a sunroof as standard equipment.
All models are powered by a 170-horsepower V6 and all trim lines but the Limited offer the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.