Suffice it to say that Suzuki has never stunned North American consumers with beautiful automotive designs. In point of fact, reviewing their history reveals a certain manic quality, little of it pretty. Oddball propositions like the toy-like X-90 and character-free Esteem have given way to the likes of Suzuki's ill-proportioned Aerio and milquetoast non-statements on the order of the Verona and Forenza. But there are tangible signs that the automaker is finally finding the plot– the inexpensive Italdesign-penned Reno and the tweener SX4 crossover are both attractive propositions. But the offering most likely to become the company's poster child is the all-new-for 2006 Grand Vitara. A direct replacement for its tired, boxy predecessor that reigned from 1999-2004, the new Grand Vitara is infinitely more compelling with even just a cursory glance. By comparison, yuppies ought to be clamoring for the reborn GV like it's next year's Ikea catalog. Simply put, it's a looker. The strong lines of its clamshell-style hood set the tone, creating a defining ridge across the top of the rectilinear grille, lending the clear-lensed headlamps a bit of edge. The former element is of the blacked-out cross-hatch variety, with a thin, u-shaped chrome lip adding definition and a bit of class. Even when viewed from the dead-on, the GV's meaty fender flares lend it a properly butch stance, particularly as they mold so nicely into the bumper, itself augmented by a pair of blisters housing auxiliary driving lamps. Complaints? Well, the chrome 'S' badge on the nose is a bit outsized, coming across like a Superman logo reinterpreted by an anime artist. But it's hard to blame Suzuki's designers for wanting to get the message out that they're finally in the business of making attractively styled vehicles. (Click here for the full walk-around, along with more commentary) Move along the Suzuki's profile, and pleasant details abound. The aggressive headlamps curve around to the side ever-so-slightly, neatly incorporating a turn signal slash. Moving rearward, the flares once again take center stage, rising to nearly meet the hood crease in the front. Arguably the GV's nicest detail, the small, well-rendered side vents at the trailing edge of the hood line add character to the profile while reinforcing the visual heft of the hood itself. On the passenger side, the rear fender's arc is actually broken up by the round filler neck access door, but it's almost as if Suzuki's showing a bit of swagger in its assembly techniques, as the tricky flap on our tester fit perfectly, with nary a line interrupted. Meaty door pulls prove easy to grab, and house small oval rubberized buttons at thumb's reach (more on these in a future installment). The 17" wheels on our top-rung Luxury-spec tester are of the five-spoke variety, but feature strong detailing that combine with the flares to give the Grand Vitara a pugnacious, confident stance. Premium and Luxury trim level models gain a pair of close-cropped roof rails (but X-Games enthusiasts will need to order accessories in …
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|MPG||19 City / 24 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||185 @ 6000 rpm|
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