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Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005) Buying Guide

Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)
Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998-2005)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

The perfect car for hairdressers who like to go off roading, the Grand Vitara has a bit of an image problem, but is surprisingly capable in the rough stuff. It's also not bad to drive on the road, although the engines are a bit on the gruff side. Avoid tarted up cars with naff bodykits and huge wheels; they look ridiculous but at least they'll probably have been pampered.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Reliability
Off-road ability
Good to drive
Bland interior
Noisy engines
Thirsty V6 powerplant
Key Dates 
4/98Grand Vitara launched with 2.5 V6 petrol engine. Available as five-door only.
9/982.0-litre turbodiesel engine now offered.
5/992.0-litre petrol engine arrives with three door soft-top or estate bodystyles.
10/00Five-door estate now available with 2.0-litre petrol engine.
3/01Power boost for 2.0 TD engine, from 86bhp to 107bhp.
9/01Seven-seater XL-7 joins range with 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine.
4/03Facelifted Grand Vitara appears with colour-coded bumpers and specification changes. 1.6-litre petrol engine also joins range.
Checklist 
  • Check for worn suspension if car has been used for towing.
  • Check condition of brakes and tyres; the latter wear unevenly.
  • Brake calipers can stick on; see if the car rolls freely down a slight incline.
  • Transmissions get very noisy once due for replacement.
  • Engine overheats due to poor coolant circulation. This can lead to a cracked cylinder head in extreme instances.
  • Listen for noisy wheelbearings as you corner; they can fail prematurely. Cars with ultra-wide wheels are especially likely to be suffering from worn wheelbearings.
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