Suzuki Grand Vitara?

Submitted: Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 11:51
ThreadID: 143160 Views:3643 Replies:7 FollowUps:9
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Hoping for some frank advice.
I am looking for a 2nd hand compact vehicle that performs well in the cities and on highways, but can also take me on tough 4WD only dirt roads, etc, in the outback.
I am not planning serious offroading or beacj driving, etc..., but I want something more capable than (but not bigger than) my current car - a Golf Alltrack. In other words, something with dual range real 4WD abilities.
My current thinking is a late model Grand Vitara with the 6cyl 3.2l engine. Seems to me like a smaller alternative to a Prado.
Very keen on any frank advice on the GV or any suggested alternatives for a real beginner in this space.
Also, intending to get the auto version rather than manual as my wife will be using it as a daily driver around Sydney streets.
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 15:25

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 15:25
Have you thought that through? If you aren't looking for anything 'serious offroad', dual range will be a waste. You won't go anywhere in the outback that a nutter in a forester hasn't been for example.
The v6 vitara is more 4wd than a sube, but a mixed bag reliability wise depending on the year model. Do your research. Compact 4wds are few and far between whereas a good AWD will expand your target market considerably. Only you know the answer to that though.
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Follow Up By: Alan S18 - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 15:39

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 15:39
Thanks so much for the advice - all good points.

My approach is informed by the central Australia trip I did last year, where 90% was fine in my AWD golf, but some options were off the table or more risky without a real 4WD (like the Ernest Giles Rd or the Mereenie Loop) and some potential side trips along the way like the Painted Desert. Hence my search for a bit of a step up.
I am focussed at the moment on 2010- 2014 GVS with low mileage and probably the 3.2 engine. I haven't come across too many reliability issues if they have a good service record, but I'll look more closely. Thanks again for the great advice.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:15

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:15

My dad has an old Vitara and unfortunately you are wrong on a couple of issues and you will find that the Vitara will go far further than an AWD for three main reasons….

1 A true tried and tested four wheel drive, and will go many places that bigger four wheel drives will not go because of their size and weight.

2 Dual range transfer case.

3 Ground clearance.

That’s why when you do many true four wheel drive tracks, say in the Flinders Ranges, many will advise what tracks are true suitable 4 wheel drive tracks and what are AWD tracks.
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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:21

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:21
I think we are agreeing Stephen, I did say that the vitara is more 4wd and agree in tough country it would and should fare better.
For the record though, a forester has 220mm clearance, a GV has 200mm.
I probably wouldn’t take a forester on the boggy hole track but I’ve seen bog standard hired rav 4’s on all the others mentioned in central Oz.
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:31

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 16:31
"more risky without a real 4WD (like the Ernest Giles Rd or the Mereenie Loop) and some potential side trips along the way like the Painted Desert."

Really? We've done all of those in a stock-as-a-rock SG Forester (2007).

Ones we wouldn't try are Chamber's Pillar (went there in a Hilux) and the far end of Palm Valley - both would be require the 'Lux.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 20:23

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 20:23
I've been to Chambers Pillar twice and the end of Palm Valley in a Freelander 2 which is on a par with a Forester, similar size and no low range. A mate did the Simpson and the Hay River track in a Forester. I've also owned an earlier model Grand Vitara so feel qualified to give an opinion. The GV is probably the worst ride and fuel economy of those I've already mentioned. What about a Pajero Sport? It's only around 200mm longer than the GV and does the lot in comfort with good fuel economy.
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Reply By: Phil G - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 18:44

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 18:44
As an outback tourer, it won't be perfect, but with good planning, it can do the job. Seen a few in teh sand and they do well (clearance permitting).

The V6 were last made I think in 2010, so you're looking at vehicles 12+ years old.
Payload is 417kgs - not much to work with. But the secret to these small 4wds is to keep them light.
Fuel consumption was 10.5 L/100k Combined from a 66L tank. - when the going is good, will get you 500km. For something like a Simpson Desert Crossing you would need to carry petrol in jerrys which is hard - roofrack is really the only option.

They did make a Grand Vitara 1.9 turbo diesel but they were all manuals - I have no idea what they were like but the numbers are a lot more impressive - same size tank and it gets 6.8 L/100k so I'd expect an 800km range. And 458kg payload.
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Reply By: Hoyks - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 21:28

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 21:28
I love suzuki's, but not really set up to be an outback tourer. The size, payload, fuel type and volume all conspire to make them impracticable.

The vitara doesn't have a lot of ground clearance out of the box, and when you load it up with camping gear you lose even more. They could do with a bit of a lift and heavier rated springs in the back so it doesn't drag its bum in the dirt when loaded, but will be rough to drive the other 51 weeks of the year. More dirt orientated tyres with stronger construction would be a good idea, but will use more fuel and reduce your range.

As said, the payload is limiting. 2 up you're looking at 150kg, add in camping gear, food, and maybe a fridge then the cargo area is rapidly filling up. I used to fit 2 dogs on top of everything and it was a little cramped, but mine was a 3 door. It can be done, but you need to pack light.

The fuel tank size will limit you range, so you'll need extra fuel for contingencies. I'm not keen on petrol in the vehicle and it will eat into your load space, so a small roof rack is probably the go. That will add weight and drag, further reducing your range.

Petrol gives good power, but the fuel is much more volatile and I didn't like it being in the vehicle with me (I did it as I didn't have any other options). Diesel stinks, but much less likely to catch alight if everything goes pear shaped.
Everything being equal, you will use more petrol to go anywhere. I used to load up my Sierra and reliably get 400km from the 40L tank, I bought 7 seat diesel Nissan that weighed twice as much and could carry 3 times as much and still got 9L/100km and had a 70L tank to play with.

Like I said, Suzuki's are great and I'd get another one, but the underpinnings are still a Kei car which is designed for not going too far from home.

A good set of tyres, a good tyre gauge and a healthy dose of mechanical empathy and AWD's (with a centre diff lock) will go a surprising long distance off road.
Hell, with no mechanical empathy I used to take a ford escort into some places that a lot of 4x4 owners would think twice about.
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Reply By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 23:24

Friday, Jan 28, 2022 at 23:24
We have a 2018 GV...vertually the last one sold in oz...which we bought new. Have used it to explore around the mountain here...and in low 4wd it takes a good driver anywhere it will go. The 2.4 4 cylinder petrol is pretty much bulletproof...and has a reputation of long life with very few issues apparently.I have had a family member with a V6 petty...and he sold it because of the fuel consumption.."goes like a scalded cat and pass everything but a petrol pump " was how he summed it up. Ours regularly returns figures of 8.5 km/l to 9k/l on trips.Towing capacity is 1700kg braked....service id\s every 10.000 k ...and motor holds a decent amount of oil= long life. Runs a all wheel drive all the time in high range 2 wheel drive....which makes it an absolute hoot to drive ...specially on winding roads . Havent had it long enough to give you any long life issues ...but from the k,s done so far looks like it will be with us for n cheerfull to own and a hoot to drive . Has really good A/C.. only enough electrickery to be safe in OZ...and very easy to service...doesnt leak dust...and no rattles and squeaks so far anyway.
Plus its has the legendary Suzuki quality build and is all Japanese made.
I have heard...altho no first hand experience that the diesel was good while going ....but a world of pain when it maybe more info on that maybe about somewhere.

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Follow Up By: Phil G - Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 09:43

Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 09:43
And the Grand Vitaras were still made in Japan.
We have the smaller Suzuki Vitara Turbo - was made in Hungary and my daughter has a Suzuki Baleno - made in India. But both are about 4 years old and have been faultless.
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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 11:24

Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 11:24
Don't rule out a generation 4 Pajero for a mid size vehicle. Late NT (without the DPF) onwards to pre-DPF NX. They have 2WD, AWD, 4H and 4L, the 4 wheel independent suspension, means they drive like a sedan and have a good turning circle. They also have a 775kg payload, a proven bullet proof motor and transmission. I went from a Ford Maverick (GQ Patrol) to an NT, I think that model has the best compromise between ultra modern gee wizardry and bog basic like my Maverick, coil, points and carby, the smartest doodad in the vehicle was the Kenwood radio I installed.
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Follow Up By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 14:18

Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 14:18
We also have a 2021 Pajero NX GLX...and agree with everything that Warren far at least. It is a DPF model...and jury is out on that atm. Car has only just gone 10,000 k....and when hooked up to our van...just goes ' wot van? " and gets on with the job admirably....and with comfort and good fuel economy. So far I really like it ...but early days yet.....
BTW..I also did what Warren did...went from a 97 GQ Patrol to a Paj as well....still not sure if I made the right move there...but was offered a price I couldnt

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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 16:03

Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 16:03
On the basis that whilst not wanting to be driving seriously gnarly high clearance rocky country (which it would likely do better than many might think if driven with care), but want to travel on outback dirt roads & feel confident to manage soft sand when required, I think the Grand Vitara would do that on the basis that Stephen. L described.

I would be quite happy taking one down to Boggy Hole from Hermansberg. It's light weight would see it float over the soft sand section toward the end , using suitable tyre pressures.

It is the size/storage capacity which may be an issue for longer trips, but if you are happy to travel light I think it would work well. They have a good reputation for reliability.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 16:34

Saturday, Jan 29, 2022 at 16:34
I've a couple of camera club friends who went from a GV to an NW Pajero. The GV was great for them when they were working and doing short weekend trips to the high country. Once they wanted a tourer it was apparent that the comfort and load capacity didn't match their needs. I can see why GVs are perfect for motorhome users. I used a Sierra as a work vehicle in the late 70s. On a number of occasions the Toyotas and LRs were in low range and I hadn't even shifted into 4wd.
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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Sunday, Jan 30, 2022 at 18:17

Sunday, Jan 30, 2022 at 18:17
It’s hard to beat an older prado, they drive like a car, they carry up to 180 litres of fuel, and a 4cylinder diesel will return you 10l/100. Suzuki vitara is a good cheaper option, but won’t have range like a prado.
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Follow Up By: Alan S18 - Sunday, Jan 30, 2022 at 20:13

Sunday, Jan 30, 2022 at 20:13
Thanks, dozer. That sums up my thinking 100%. Of course, there's a big price differential, but I would opt for the prado every time if I could convince my wife to use one as a daily driver.
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