Grand Vitara Frequently Asked Questions

This page will contain the frequently asked questions about the Suzuki Grand Vitara car range over the years. Most relate to pre-2006 models but I'm slowly adding post 2006 and current model info as I get the time.  Note that these where written many years ago and things have moved on.

When should 4wd be engaged

I have had many messages telling me of problems with the 4wd system.  Since it is clear that in all situations 4wd system has been engaged incorrectly I have decided to write this section. 

The PRE-September 2005 Grand Vitara's 4wd system uses the traditional part time arrangement where the driver decides when the 4wd system should be used.  The 4wd system on the Grand Vitara is not complicated and is very reliable when used appropriately.

These SGV's 4wd system should not be used on normal roads.  If you want 4wd on normal roads or more appropriately All Wheel Drive (AWD) you should consider another car.  AWD Subaru's and the Toyota RAV4 are good examples.  However they do lack low range gearing.

The difference between the Grand Vitara's system and these other ones is quite simple, newer 4WD systems have a computer and a centre differential controlling the power being sent to each wheel the SGV doesn't. Note that in most normal road driving these AWD are using only 2 driving wheels anyway- or more.  Since the SGV does not have a centre diff or computer - power is being sent to all 4 wheels with grip hence causing damage to the hardware if 4WD is used on a normal road.

4WD modes should only be used in situations where there the surface of the road is loose - namely dirt or gravel roads.  Once the roads are back to normal it should be turned off.

The benefit of a manually activated 4wd system with the low range gears like the SGV is mainly to do with fuel savings and drive train wear. If you don't want to learn how to judge the situations that require 4wd then you should consider another type of 4WD car. Automatically activating 4wd systems or on demand systems are getting better but it may or may not work when you need it if using older traction control systems.

Now AFTER September 2005 SGVs have a 'full time' system hence only low high range and diff locks can be selected.  Should solve a lot problems with those who don't know when 4wd should be used. See Technical page for my opinion on various 4wd systems.

Interesting Notes

- Like all Japanese 4WDs body shapes tend to last much longer than their car counterparts. The original Vitara model lasted close to 10 years.
- Suzuki has begun releasing 'special' GV packages eg. Safari, Limited Sports Edition, Freestyle etc...
- This means that sales are probably stalling due to the much increased competition and the perception of an aged model.
- In early 2002 Suzuki in Australian released the Wide Body GV 2 door.

Grand Vitara Fuel Consumption Pre-Oct 2005

These are from my own experiences and other owners :

3 Door
2.0 L4 Petrol : Highway 9.5lts per 100ks 110kph)
2.0 L4 Petrol : City 10-11lts per 100ks
2.0 L4 Petrol : Highway 12-13lts per 100ks (130kph)
2.0 L4 Petrol : Beach work 4WD 14-15lts per 100ks

5 Door
2.5 V6 Petrol : Highway 12lts per 100ks (110kph)
2.5 V6 Petrol : City
2.7 V6 Petrol : City 13-14lts per 100ks (110kph)
2.5 V6 Petrol : Highway

What is the 'shift lock' button?

Well everyone the mystery button is to allow you to move the transmission lever without the key in the ignition and/or foot on the brake pedal.  Note that in some cars you can't remove the key unless the gearbox is in P or Park mode. 

This applies only to automatic transmissions.  Most modern cars have this button.

Why have such a button ?  Probably is case the mechanism break down I suppose ?

Interesting that in new cars such as the Lexus IS250 it has just a start button and no requirement to press the keyfob.  You just need to be in close proximity to the car to be able to open the door 'button'.

Model updates

Finally an all new model has been released From October 2005 onwards the new version was released worldwide.  Mind you Sth America already had it months earlier.

For 2003 Suzuki have revamped the entire dashboard/instrument panel on the XL-7 and 4 door Grand Vitara.  It looks fantastic and certainly better than the others in it's class for this year anyway.  It features 'Lexus' like instrumentation centre console, stereo etc...  All my complaints have been answered !

Suzuki really does some odd things.  First they update the 2003 interiors on all the models including the XL-7 and 3 months later release a facelift for the XL-7 so odd.

The 2004 XL-7 now also comes with a 5 speed automatic.
The Aust versions have 2 equipment levels one with everything including leather and sunroof and the standard version.

The most disappointing aspect about the latest update is the omission of lumbar support on all versions !  Also the inclusion of audio controls on the steering wheel - that's right.  Cruise control would have been a MUCH better inclusion.  The stereo doesn't exactly set benchmarks for sound quality or volume in fact integrating the stereo is itself disappointing.

In fact the whole car industry seems to want to limit CHOICE for us consumers by making it as difficult as possible to change stereo's (one example).  Don't they get it - we want to replace them because they give us crap standard ones.  Tell them NO.  Say to the car dealer that it not good enough.

Misc notes

In Australia there are 2 major Suzuki importers.  One for QLD and Nth NSW and the other one for the rest of the country.  Both importers bring in different specs of the same car. 

For example QLD 2 doors do not have side cladding or roof rails.  QLD gets various special editions the rest of the country don't.  So check the specs before you buy it may be better to shop interstate!

Extra advise if you're considering to purchase :
If you don't go off-road regularly and generally hang around the suburbs and the city :
-get the auto-transmission
(Only get the manual if you do go off-road or are willing to put up with tough gear changes until the box lossens up)
-get the 2 door
(The short wheel base makes parking and U-turns so  easy unless you have a family or course then the 4 door is fine.)
-Replace the OEM tyres with something else.
-get as much optional stuff you can as part of the purchase price.  (eg. fog lights, alloys, tint.)

Misc Rumors

Grand Vitara problems prior to 2006 - mechanical or otherwise.

I've checked out the much rumored cam chain problem and I have concluded that its just a disgruntled owner who doesn't know any better and has decided to flame the car/or probably wasn't the told the truth about what the problem was or simply didn't service the car even what I suspect - entirely fantasy - whatever. Anyway it appears like a whole lot of crap to me. The engines in the Grand Vitara has been around for years. They are used by Chevrolet and Kia GM etc... since none of the other makes have the problem so you work it out.

The latest 2007 Suzuki SX4 believe also uses the J20A engine.  No better recommendation of reliability than that.  Speaking of which the engine is getting old but it is reliable.

Chains are reliable and rarely break - they are made of metal you see. Check out the BMW problems with rubber cam belts.

So yes everyone who lives in the real world you could get a lemon. Even Mercs, BMWs, Rollers make them.

And don't get me started about the roll over thing again.


 Other car comparisons and reviews
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 Suzuki Grand Vitara Review
 Model news 2006 to 200?
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Frequently Asked Questions
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 Technical & Mechanical Specifications
 Technical & Mechanical Specs  (2008)
 Archived material
 3 months review
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This site went live during January 2003.