Suzuki Grand Vitara II, because you can’t call it Vitara II or Vitara III or Vitara+. No, Suzuki Grand Vitara II. The only thing grand about this car is the price and I don’t understand why.

You might ask if I have a personal issue with the Suzuki Grand Vitara II and the answer is yes. If I were to find an equivalent car to the Suzuki Grand Vitara II, then it would most likely be the Audi A4 B6 or VW Golf IV. Suzuki Grand Vitara II – the Audi A4 B6 of the SUV world.


Why so much hate and so many assumptions?

  • Because the Grand Vitara II was a semi-reliable car when it was new and it was part of the first small-engined SUV brigade, like the Hyundai Tucson or Toyota Rav4 and that gave it a reputation as an incredibly reliable car and that’s how the prices exploded like my brain when I learned that when two people kiss they basically form a really large digestive tube. I’m sorry, but a used Suzuki Grand Vitara II costs as much as a used Touareg 2.5 TDI or a Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi, cars in a higher class.
  • Except that inflated prices only tell half the story. Because there are cars with a reputation more bloated than Cecilia, my go-to doll for every Saturday night while watching The Food Network in marathon mode, the Suzuki Grand Vitara II has fallen prey to success and also fallen prey to morally dubious sellers. 
  • But let’s get on with the actual car, because there are some noticeable differences from the previous version. This Vitara is actually a fully fledged Suzuki and no longer has GM’s influence (except for one engine). It no longer has a ladder-frame construction as it’s unibody. It’s got MacPherson struts in the front and multilink independent suspension in the back. It has a low gearing transmission and locking differential. It has full time 4WD system (except some models in Australia which were RWD). It came as a standard 5 door SUV but also a mall crawler / beach thrawler 3 door coupe SUV. So you did have alot of reasons to buy a Suzuki Grand Vitara II.


Suzuki Grand Vitara II Engines


  • 1.6 M16A of 106 horsepower  – A simple, old-fashioned engine. It’s chain driven, it’s a revs dependent engine, it’s absolutely decent on the Suzuki Swift and the SX4 but it has no business being on the Vitara. At most it can be adequate on the 3 door version mall crawler, but that’s about the full extent of it’s abilities. 
  • 2.0 J20A of 140 horsepower  – That brings us to the most popular petrol in the Suzuki Grand Vitara II in Europe at least. It’s part of the “J” generation, just as the 1.6 petrol is part of the “M” generation and you better watch out for the stretched timing chain issues and the oil consumption.
  • 2.4 J24B of 170 horsepower – What an absolute cracker of an engine. In the sense that the engine block tends to crack and retire early. 
  • 2.7 H27A V6 of 185 horsepower – Mostly used in the Suzuki XL-7, this engine was also used for a brief moment in the North America version of the Grand Vitara. So it has the standard stretched timing chain and oil consumption issues, with added oil leaks and faulty valve covers.
  • 3.2 N32A of 227 horsepower – After the 2.7 V6 saga the japanese turned once more to GM and they supplied them with the “High Feature Engine”. Developed by Holden, used by Daewoo and Chevrolet and Suzuki, and developed even further by the italians at Alfa Romeo (the 3.2 JTS used in the 159 and the Brera, not to be confused with their own V6)


1.9 F9Q DDiS of 130 horsepower – The same 1.9 dCi used on the the Renault Megane or Laguna, the modest F9Q doesn’t impress us with anything, neither positive nor negative. Just know that the engine and gearbox are tuned for the long distance and not for cruising around town. Otherwise, if you replace the timing kit and the water pump at the same time, it shouldn’t raise your blood pressure too frequently..


Suzuki Grand Vitara II Common Issues

  • You’ve got a lot of things to check on a Suzuki Grand Vitara II so get comfortable and turn on the air conditioning. Actually, that would be the first item to check, because the Grand Vitara II has a habit of eating AC compressors. If it doesn’t give you cold air, you’ll have to bribe it with some money.
  • No meal without fish, Nicolae Ceaucescu once said. No desk too small for 2 persons, Bill Clinton once said. And no car without rust, Suzuki once said. In the 2000s to be more precise, coincidentally when the Grand Vitara II was being produced. Especially bad on the frame and suspension parts.
  • The boot gaiters of pretty much every suspension components are made of swiss cheese and they are so accurate that you can sell them at the supermarket as swiss cheese. So if you hear strange sounds from the suspension, it might be from there.
  • No meal without fish, Nicolae Ceaucescu once said. No desk too small for 2 persons, Bill Clinton once said. And no car without the cheapest plastics and interiors, Suzuki once said. In the 2000s to be exact, that’s when the Grand Vitara II was being produced. In fact, that’s pretty much how it goes even today, isn’t it, the Vitara IV?
  • Tires need to be inspected and checked every time you start off because the Grand Vitara has a tendency to chew them from the inside. Be careful with the tires.
  • The manual gearboxes can develop abit of a drinking habit so make sure to check the fluid level every week. The ancient automagic gearboxes are fine however.


Suzuki Grand Vitara II Verdict

You don’t have to be a graduate of the college of life to know that I’m not the biggest fan of the Suzuki Grand Vitara II. And I wouldn’t have a particular beef with the car if it didn’t cost used as much as a Touareg or Q5. Seriously, a used 2011 Grand Vitara costs as much as a used 2010 Audi Q7 (in Europe atleast). I mean, what are we talking about? I’m not a fan of Audi or VW and definatelly not a shill, but to pit a low-cost car up against cars where you’re already paying for the logo and not the car, that’s aspirational. And look, people are buying the Grand Vitara by the truckload. And the dealers have seen this and so a used Suzuki Grand Vitara II is a lottery that I certainly don’t want to participate in.


What engines do you recommend? For petrol probably the 2.0 petrol 140 horsepower unit is the best bet, with all its issues. But by far the most in-character engine is the Renault 1.9 DDiS 130 horsepower diesel.