By on July 13, 2012

The Suzuki Grand Vitara was the second worst-selling small SUV in America last month, with 419 sold. The only competitor that fared worse was the now-dead Mazda Tribute, which sold 1 unit (ostensibly a remainder car).

It’s not often that one hears about a facelift for a vehicle that they totally forgot was even on sale, but for 2013, the Suzuki Grand Vitara will be getting a revised look.

The worst part about it is that the Grand Vitara doesn’t look half bad. A look at the spec sheet reveals a $19,649 RWD manual version(!) in addition to the usual 4WD. Too bad for Suzuki that there’s just so many good cars worthy of consumer dollars out there, compelling reasons for buying a Grand Vitara don’t really exist.

P.S. Can anyone answer what the purpose of the fender mirror is?


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50 Comments on “If A Suzuki Grand Vitara Gets A Facelift, Does Anyone Care?...”

  • avatar

    I think the accepted answer is “no”. No one at all cares. Even Suzuki dealers probably don’t care. What I’m waiting for is an updated Suzuki Equator, but I guess they don’t want to mess with success. haha.

    BTW, Suzuki’s web site says 0% is available for 72 months on all new 2012 models. In case anyone cares.

    • 0 avatar

      People should care. This is not an SUV. It is unibody, and although it is rear wheel drive it has an independent rear suspension. It is a station wagon.

      The internet constantly whines that there is not a cheap, rear wheel drive station wagon with manual transmission available on the market.

      There is, and it is called the Suzuki Grand Vitara.

      Sure, it is a bit too tall, and a bit too heavy. But it proves that a rear wheel drive unibody wagon with independent rear suspension, along with all US mandated safety features and power windows, locks and air conditioning, can be done for under $20K.

      Suzuki would be smart to drop this and lighten it and sell it as a cheap rear wheel drive wagon instead of continuing to chase after cute ute buyers.

      • 0 avatar

        I would definitely look at it differently if it was more around the height of a volvo v70. The fender flares are a bit too much though, and no I would never have guessed that it was RWD.

  • avatar

    The fender mirror looks like it would be handy for parallel parking. I come fairly close to caring about the eventual demise of the Grand Vitara’s tenure on the US market. I once spent a few weeks driving a Samarai around Costa Rica, and my father rented a GV during an emergency trip to snow bound Taxachussettes. Both performed flawlessly. The GV is a real SUV in a world of CUVs. Unfortunately, very few people need an SUV. What they need is the space and all weather capabilities of an SUV, and CUVs have that without the baggage of superfluous low range transfer cases, huge suspension travel, and truck-like towing capability.

  • avatar

    Suzuki needs to stick to building motorcycles.

    Besides, that CUV has jowls.

    • 0 avatar

      They are dying in that realm too. What they really need to do is inject their motorcycle DNA into their cars. 9000 RPM Swift GTI? Sounds good to me.

  • avatar

    I really want to care. Sadly, Suzuki gives us terrible powertrain options.

    There’ve been at least 3 times in my life where I wanted to buy one, but either manual trans or 4-cylinder negates low range, at least in Canada.

    This’d be a great little rural runabout, if you could have more options a la carte.

  • avatar

    These guys need to get serious or give up. When you are dead last you need to be willing to sell at a better price. Their dealers are jokes and they are run like used car lots.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re paying the price for having sold rebadged Daewoo Lacettis, which destroyed all their consumer scores, brand equity, and customer loyalty. It was so devastating that GM saw it as an opportunity.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes because the Cruze has been such a flop (from a sales and quality perspective)!

      • 0 avatar

        Chevy sold 800,000 Citations in the first year too. I suppose a Daewoo isn’t a step down from a real Chevrolet the way it was from a real Suzuki too.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Cruze scores continue to be pathetic compared to the competition. The latest problem is oil burn with the 1.4 thanks to deficient cylinder sealing.

        Of course, over 30 unlucky Cruze owners can tell you that’s better than having the oil burn up your ride completely.

      • 0 avatar

        Going all the way back to the Citation when GM had massive market share and the “imports” were just getting into their stride is hardly comparable to today’s competitive market.

      • 0 avatar
        D in the D

        Really? I’ll bet it at least STOPS without a “floormat issue”. Yeah, really. Toyotas are junk, and STILL have issues today, This brand is crap, but one would be an utter fool to choose a Toyota over one. Both should fold up shops and go back home. Your 15 seconds are over. You are no longer welcome here. Keep your crap off of our roads…

  • avatar

    Suzuki still sells cars over here?

  • avatar

    If I needed a small 4×4 CUV/SUV used for a cheap price I’d seriously look at one. Still has low range, V6, well rated by the Off Road magazines. Then again I might just end up with an SX4 hatch 4×4 with a manual trans if I was in that situation.

    There are times I search for Veronas just to see how stinking cheap they are. That was a unique Suzuki design that did not sell well and I have a suspicion that the I6 would be hard to get parts for.

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      All Suzuki Veronas were rebadged — wait for it — Daewoo Magnus sedans. The I6 was Daewoo-designed, too.

      Nothing uniquely Suzuki about them.

    • 0 avatar

      Congratulations on your promotion. The school systems in New Mexico need all the good people that they can get, and I suspect you’ll do a great job. Challenge those young minds, dude!
      In all my years working with the industry, I’ve never quite understood Suzuki’s strategy in the US. They seem intent on staying here, though their product portfolio is clearly not geared to our market. They must have something in mind for the future, but they’re a company that keeps their plans close to the vest, so, who knows?
      The Vitara has been a huge success for them in other markets, so an update is justified, but US sales for this niche are mostly taken by the Patriot, despite the fact that the Vitara is a true SUV.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m in a district that is constantly under the NMPED’s ever watchful jaundiced eye. “May you live in interesting times.” would likely be the opperative phrase here.

        Personally I’m disturbed by the # of 4×2 Patriots that I see. In my area of NM 4×4 is actually useful (given the rutted dirt paths that turn into muddy trails at the passing of a storm). I also must conclude that those Patriots I’m seeing also have the smaller less powerful available engine. For some reason that just makes me sad.

  • avatar

    I believe fender-mounted mirrors are required in Japan. (Bertel could probably correct me.) Looks dorky but I’ve seen JDM cars w/these since the 1970s.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, what was the question? I was watching paint dry.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    blind spot mirror is my guess. by the way, where are all you poseurs who always keep saying if SUVs came in a manual you would like totally buy one?

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t speak for the poseurs but the real SUV enthusiasts also want 4×4 which unfortunately isn’t available with a manual. Too bad, this could be a cheaper, more efficient alternative to an FJ cruiser or Xterra.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Nobody cares because nobody sees them. I can buy all the upscale European makes where I live. However the closest Suzuki dealer is an hour away.

    • 0 avatar

      Annoyingly, you also can’t buy a Lexus or an Acura in Charlottesville. My ex-gf had to travel 70 miles to Richmond to get her Mini Cooper fixed with great regularity. Has the BMW dealer picked up a Mini franchise since?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        CJ, no Mini dealership yet. However the BMW dealer is adding another showroom. I used to live in rural Indiana. 2 hours to the Indianapolis BMW and 2 hours to the BMW dealer in Louisville. I don’t think a lot of people factor in an 1-2 ride on a flatbed when the car dies. However bout every Richmond run includes a stop at Trader Joe’s:)

  • avatar

    At first I thought it was a snorkel instead of a mirror…

  • avatar

    I’m trying to get 200k miles out of my 1997 Sidekick Sport JX (10k to go!), with the apparently undiagnosable rough-idle-in-temps-below-70-deg-F issue, and don’t see a good alternative for a replacement (and I’m not particularly fishing for any with this post). I haven’t kept up with the presence/absence of “true” 4WD and other features of the historical line of GV’s, but the stock 96-98 Sport JX has a distinctive “mini-Montero-ish” look, true lo/hi-range 4WD, tow hooks, 5MT, 120 honest hp, 4-cyl, 24 mpg, small turn radius, cool rubber bumpers along the fwd part of the A-pillars that let you wash your windshield while driving with windows open and not get drenched, and all the honest fun of a live rear axle and rear drums. (The JLX trim added autohubs, cruise, rear window washer and alloys, but methinks ruled out the MT) The biggest aspects that I find hard to duplicate in another small SUV are the 2-range transfer case,4-cyl engine, 5MT, and the side-opening rear door, which allows a bike rack to be secured to the external spare while not interfering with roof-mounted kayaks. The Sport, bless its tired heart, is a rugged true mini-ute (within its ground-clearance-limited constraints) in a sea of lesser, comfier wannabees. Too bad the Sport doesn’t have the aftermarket support of the Sidekick proper. The GVs have turned me off with the mileage penalty of the 6-cyl (and scarcity of MT).

    • 0 avatar

      My brother has an ’02 XL7 with the 2.7 and stick, converted to manual hubs and with A/T tires, and he gets an honest 25mpg in mixed/rural driving! Before the tires but after the hubs it got as high as 26.5! I know that sounds insane but these numbers are confirmed both with manual calculations and with a SGII. I guess it’s a combination of relatively light weight for an SUV plus short shifting the torquey 2.7 and driving with a light foot. The car is a hoot, both on and offroad, these are extremely underrated little trucklets! Yeah the interior is narrow and a bit cramped, and has a lot of cheap/nasty looking plastic, but for the kind of activities my brother uses it for (camping/hiking/MTB) it’s just about perfect.

  • avatar

    I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the GV. A former coworker had bought one for work duties and it proved to be a very decent vehicle. Decent cargo room, could easily tow a small loaded trailer, predictable on-road manners, and has been completely reliable (granted only 2 years and 60k+ miles). We were all surprised with the off-road capability. It carried about 550lbs of men along with several firearms, ammo, targets, beverages, and associated gear over a few miles of deeply-rutted trail without a single issue or complaint.

    As CJinSD said “The GV is a real SUV in a world of CUVs.”

    Best part is, you can have one at a great price. The former coworker mentioned in the anecdote above got a new auto 4×4 with V6 for just a sneeze over $21k. The dealers were and probably still are desperate. . .

    • 0 avatar
      Sylvilagus Aquaticus

      Wife test drove a GV a couple of years ago; while not top of the class, she liked it fine. I have a ’97 Sidekick that I haven’t been able to destroy in a quarter million miles (and then some) of commuting/farm/hunting lease driving. I haven’t had any breakdowns that have put me afoot and all it asks is routine maintenance. Yeah, it’s slow, it buzzes at 4k RPM at 75mph, and the mileage is no better on the GV than the old ‘Kick with the 1.8 four and 5 speed stick. The worst part of Zook around here is their dealers, who come off as note-lot hucksters who seem to mainly prey on recent immigrants with late night TV ads in multiple languages.

  • avatar

    Suzuki needs to leave the US market (along with Mitsubishi), and enjoy their unparalleled success in India.

    Suzuki: It’s OK; there’s a long line of other mfrs who didn’t make it as far as you did.

  • avatar

    Five years ago, I came very close to buying one of these. But the lack of a fold flat rear seat ultimately killed the deal and I bought an Escape instead.

    I still like them, but with Suzuki doing so poorly, I would say a purchase would be a gamble. The depreciation on one of these has to be horrifying.

  • avatar


    Haters are going to hate. Those who post nonsense about a car they know nothing about will pile on blindly.

    All of our Suzukis have been reliable. They have good warranties and Suzuki dealers have been unfailingly professional and have gone above and beyond in meeting our needs. (My current Suzuki dealer provides us with free oil changes at 3,000 mile intervals for as long as we own the car.)

    They’re great TOADS. (Tow a 4 WD automatic 4 wheels down and add zero miles on the odometer.)

    I’m also a long-term Suzuki motorcycle rider. Having ridden/owned motorcycles from every major motorcycle manufacturer in the past 40 years, I can attest to the quality and value for money of Suzuki products.

    Quit picking on the little guy.

    • 0 avatar

      I kinda agree w/ dancote here. I’ve owned Mitsu and Suzuki products (and an 05 Saturn Vue loosely related to the Vitara). They don’t invoke that gotta-have-it feeling nor carry a big market share. But They’re reliable, safe, and cheep to own.

      It’s a shame they don’t have the dealership network the Metro/Tracker names enjoyed. If Chevy still badged this as a Tracker, and loaded it’s dealers…you can bet our roads would be littered with them.

      There’s nothing wrong w/ this vehicle for 99% of the drivers out there.

  • avatar

    I owned a 2007 model until recently. Lousy dealer network (if you could find one!), but excellent vehicle. I’ve had several each of GM, Toyota and Chrysler products and none were as solidly put together as the SGV. 0% financing (as noted above – when you’re desperate to move product it does help)convinced me. I originally shopped CRV and RAV4-but found them both so overpriced (and the fact that every 4th house in the neighborhood had one!. I had the X-Sport model w/2.7L V6 (an actual Suzuki engine later replaced by a GM sourced 3.4L) which was a bit loud, but plenty powerful. I live in suburban No. Va and always got 19MPG. Only gripes were the back door (heavy and awkward) and the firm ride which wore on me during long rd trips. I always thought if they’d ditched the side-opening rear door, put in a mini-spare (acknowledging these things almost never leave the road) and lengthened it a few inches (to increase the 24cu.ft storage) they would have the perfect suburban, small-family, wknd fun vehicle to steal sales from the two front runners. Its a shame Suzuki isn’t serious about No. America. They are big players in Asia. Even now, having replaced mine with a bigger CUV, I wish I’d had a Suzuki-designed option in the 7-seat CUV category. I always felt I got a lot of vehicle for very little money. Rock solid, inexpensive and unique style were a winning combination for me.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    As I recall when the Grand Vitara first came out a few years back there were complaints in the car magazines about its lousy mileage , lack of cargo space and high price . And as far as I know the odd fender mounted mirrors are required for the JDM , which this car obviously is with RHD . Around here ( Houston ) the local Suzuki dealer just shut down . It was the closest new car dealership to my house ( and this isn’t the greatest neighborhood ) and , yes it resembled a used car dealership , being rather small with signs only in Spanish and a lot of total POS used car inventory . As I recall the place also usually had a sign trying to hire bi-lingual salesmen .

  • avatar

    GV is pretty good. Now that Pathfinder and Explorer moved on cross-over architecture, GV is the only small SUV left in the market. Most importantly, it has a real low range.

    Unfortunately, Suzuki does the same moronic thing everyone else seems to be doing: in order to get a decent powertrain spec, you have to pay for useless luxury options. As a result, it may be the same price as Liberty, which offers the same capability at its _lowest_ scale of options (obviously Liberty loses dramatically in mileage, but that’s different from the up-front price).

    I looked closely at the “current” generation, the one before the one in question. Decided that I can afford more of a jeep than this. But it was pretty good for what it was.

  • avatar

    The redesign matters because Europe is a thing which exists, and The Grand Vitara doesn’t sell badly here.

    Also the fender mirror is to help judge the size of the vehicle better when parking, and also covers some of the blind spot to the side.

  • avatar

    The Suzuki dealer in our town merged with the Saab dealer, which was previously a Saab / Saturn dealership. Talk about bad karma…

  • avatar

    gslippy said:

    “Suzuki needs to leave the US market (along with Mitsubishi), and enjoy their unparalleled success in India.”

    I’d like to know…why???? Why should they leave or quit because they are at the bottom of the sales chart?

    Are we playing Highlander ‘There can only be one!’.

    As consumers WE ONLY benefit from competition, choice, options, variety etc.

    I hope they stay, I hope FIAT does well, I hope Mazda survives, I hope we get Alfa or Peugeot back, and so on.

    For those hoping for the death of Suzuki in N.America, the logical endgame of that thought process is all new cars will be either GM or Toyota – or perhaps a merger of the two – what a bright future for automotive enthusiasts to wish for!

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not saying they build bad cars, nor am I against competition.

      Suzuki and Mitsubishi must be close to losing money in the US market, to the point where they can no longer afford to support their customers through a viable dealer network, and provide a nice pipeline of competitive products. Mazda is flirting with the same fate.

      Consider why the hundreds of car mfrs in the US in the early 20th century all disappeared, leaving us with a handful of fairly strong players.

      Really, how many small SUVs does the market need? Does Suzuki offer anything distinctive which buyers simply must have? Even the cool Kizashi can’t get traction due to Suzuki’s tiny market presence.

  • avatar

    The fender mirror might be for towing. The little ‘Zuke has an unusually high (for a North American four-banger) towing capacity of 3,000 pounds. That, plus its rugged construction probably makes it the most underrated “cute ute” on the market. Think XTerra Lite and you get the idea.

  • avatar

    At one time I was looking at a Grand Vitara, Kia Borrego and a Mitsu Montero LTD thinking I could buy’em at fire sale prices. Borrego and Montero are long gone… Can’t recall why I never followed thru on any of these models…

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