2001 Vitara New Car Test Drive
Suzuki used to be among the few manufacturers of small sport-utilities. It's now a crowded field, with the recently introduced Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Escape, and Mazda Tribute, along with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Today, consumers have a lot of choices.
Suzuki's Grand Vitara still shines when it comes to serious off-road driving as it's equipped with a two-speed transfer case, body-on-frame construction, and a suspension designed to go off road. The Santa Fe, Escape, Tribute, and the redesigned Toyota RAV4 do not offer the type of equipment for real off-pavement adventures.
Together, Suzuki's Vitara and Grand Vitara are available with four- and six-cylinder engines. There are two-door convertible and four-door wagon body styles, with either two- or part-time four-wheel drive. Changes for 2001 are minimal, and include redesigned front and rear bumpers, a new stereo system with larger, easier to manipulate controls, and a few more standard interior features.
Suzuki offers a full line of mini sport-utilities, from the entry-level two-door Vitara JS with two-wheel drive and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine to the loaded Grand Vitara Limited with four doors, four-wheel drive, V6 and automatic transmission. In between is a line of four-door models with four- and six-cylinder engines.
Suzuki's nomenclature uses an X to denote four-wheel drive, so JX and JLX models come with four-wheel drive. Generally, four-wheel drive adds $1,000 to the bottom line. An automatic transmission also carries a $1,000 price premium.
The least-expensive model is the $13,899 two-door Vitara JS. It comes with a convertible soft canvas top with a plastic rear window. It's powered by a 1.6-liter 16-valve four-cylinder engine that produces 97 horsepower to drive the rear wheels. Two-door JLS and JLX trim levels come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 127 horsepower. They also come with air conditioning as standard equipment.
Four-door Vitara models start with the $15,599 JS. All Vitara 4 Door models come standard with the larger 2.0-liter engine.
Grand Vitaras start at $18,399, and include a 155-horsepower V6.
The top of the line model is the $22,999 Grand Vitara Limited, which includes a hard cover for the external spare tire, privacy glass, fog lamps, leather upholstery, and a choice of either stark white or black exterior colors, plus gold badging.