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2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport: Weidel on Wheels

2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport: Weidel on Wheels 1By Jeff Weidel

The 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara will not be a first choice for many shoppers. And if money is not an issue, the compact sport utility vehicle may not even make the finalists’ list. Many competitors have better credentials. But if money is an issue, don’t dismiss the Grand Vitara.

It has significantly improved in recent years and not only provides an impressive value, it has good qualities as a daily driver.

The 2008 Grand Suzuki XSport wasn’t a vehicle I couldn’t wait to bid farewell after a week’s drive. It’s an attractive model with an attractive price tag, $22,349. That’s a tough match for the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, among others in the competitive compact SUV field.

Not much has changed over the past year. But while the 2008 Grand Vitara is virtually the same model as in 2007, Suzuki is rumored to have vast changes planned for the 2009 model.

2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport: Weidel on Wheels 2

Suzuki doesn’t manufacture anything too fancy. However, car shoppers can no longer ignore Suzuki because its entire lineup has been improvement and the Japanese brand no longer travels down the budget highway.

Many Grand Vitara models include all-wheel drive, although the XSport was only a two-wheel version. Still, with decent power — all Grand Vitaras have the same 2.7-liter, V6 engine with 185 horsepower — the Suzuki handled a trip into the foothills of Auburn, Calif., just fine.

Not only did it perform, the XSport version with automatic transmission demonstrated solid road manners, providing a firm ride that didn’t get too upset by bumpy surfaces.

The Grand Vitara also took corners with confidence and braking is commendable. But the SUV was noisy when challenged on steep grades or at speeds above 65 mph.

Tthe XSport has the keyless Smarpass start option. Smartpass sends out a signal that allows the car to start while the key remain in the pocket or somewhere in the vehicle.

A previous problem, the Grand Vitara now offers significant interior space and the overall design is so improved it ranks among the best in its class. Stability control and antilock brakes are now also standard.

Front seat occupants can expect more than enough head and leg room. While not as spacious in the back, two people fit comfortably. Add a third person and no one is too happy. Cargo room is adequate.

FAST FACTS: 2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara XSport

Performance — 2.7-liter, V6, 185 horsepower; Estimated Gas Mileage — 17 mpg (city) 22 mpg (highway); Standard Features — Traction control, daytime running lights, sunroof, full spare tire, in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer, fog lamps, privacy glass, roof rails, power windows, doors, heated mirrors, tilt steering, climate control, center console, tire pressure monitor; Warranty — Powertrain 7 years/100,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper 3/36,000 miles; Corrosion 3 years /unlimited miles; Free roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

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