2006 Grand Vitara New Car Test Drive
Nowadays there are many choices among small SUVs. Most owners have no desire to ever go off-road. No problem, the front-drive Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s of the world do just fine. Some occasionally want to wander onto dirt roads, nothing serious mind you. An automatic four-wheel-drive system works fine, and there's the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage for them.
Then there are those who really dig an SUV for what it was originally intended. They want to get down and dirty and go where low gear and a locked differential is a necessity, not a luxury. Their choices are limited to Jeeps and a few others.
The all-new 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara has just expanded this latter category.
Unlike the previous Grand Vitara, this is no small toy-like off-roader. Finally befitting of its grand name, the 2006 Grand Vitara is a grownup, five-seat, V6-powered SUV with enough sophistication that it's just as much at home on the highway as it is way off the highway.
Technically, the 2006 Grand Vitara comes in just one trim level, but several variants are available, featuring two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, automatic or manual transmissions, cloth or leather, and other features. All are well equipped.
The 2.7-liter V6 engine comes standard on all models. Also standard: automatic climate control with a micron air-filtration system, cruise control, digital clock with outside temperature and fuel consumption indicators, power door locks with a remote key, power mirrors and power windows. The standard sound system features an AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA unit that is XM Satellite Radio-ready and features steering-wheel-mounted controls.
The base Grand Vitara 2WD ($18,999) uses rear-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission. (All prices are manufactured suggested retail and do not include the destination charge.) A five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission is optional ($1,000).
The base Grand Vitara 4WD model ($20,199) uses a full-time single-mode four-wheel-drive system.
A Premium Package ($900) includes alloy wheels, privacy glass and six-disc in-dash CD changer.
The XSport ($21,099) includes the Premium Package along with the five-speed automatic and a SmartPass keyless entry and start system. The XSport 4WD model ($22,499) features a full-time four-mode four-wheel-drive system.
The Luxury model ($22,999) adds leather seating surfaces, woodgrain trim, electric sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, a HomeLink wireless control system and some other minor upgrades. The 4WD Luxury model ($24,399) features the full-time four-mode system.
Textured fender flares are available as a dealer-installed accessory (about $400).
Safety features that come standard on all models include an Electronic Stability Program with traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. That's an impressive array of active safety features, which work together to reduce the chance of skidding and help drivers avoid accidents. Passive safety features include six airbags: advanced dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection for driver and front passenger, and front and rear side-curtain airbags for head protection for the four passengers in the outboard seats.