2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 Program #2026 |MotorWeek

27 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 Program #2026 |MotorWeek

Road Tests

2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 Program #2026

Episode 2026

It was in 1963 when most Americans got their first look at the Suzuki nameplate. But, it wasn#8217;t on a car. It was on the gas tank of a motorcycle. But the bikes were such a big success here that soon suzuki set their sights on four wheels.

And in 1985 they entered the U.S. auto market, where they quickly earned a reputation for making dependable and affordable small cars and tough little sport-utes. Why their V-6 Grand Vitara even earned our MotorWeek Drivers#8217; Choice Award. Well, now success has emboldened suzuki to try for the really big time ö family- size sport-utes.

And the gleam in their eye this time is called XL-7.

Actually, its full name is the 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7. But it#8217;s much more than the vehicle that we#8217;ve known as the Grand Vitara mini-ute for the last two years, 19.1-inches more to be exact, with over a foot of that being wheelbase, now measuring 110.2-inches. Which is 4.3-inches longer than that of the mid-size Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Yet the XL-7 retains the regular Grand Vitara#8217;s parking-lot-friendly 70.1-inch width.

This translates into a front cockpit with essentially the same dimensions as that of its shorter sibling, but with a higher level of standard features. Including air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel, and a full complement of power accessories.

Front seating is standard Grand Vitara too. They#8217;re well padded, but too short for folks with long thighs. They face a set of large, clear gauges and an attractive dash.

But we would swap positions for the stereo and vent modules, whose slide controls do seem a little dated.

Things are much more up to date in the rear seat, however. The longer wheelbase increases leg room by a full 6-inches. And the split bench seat can slide forward to make more room for third seat passengers.

That#8217;s right, third seat, a split folding bench. It#8217;s only big enough for kids, but it#8217;s also the only one available in the compact SUV segment. With the third row seat in place there#8217;s only 6.6 cubic feet of cargo space. But flip it down, and it expands to 37 cubic feet, albeit with a sloping floor.

Flip the second row down, and you get 73 cubic-feet. We#8217;ll pass, however, on the side-opening rear door, that makes curb-side loading difficult.

To haul all this around, Suzuki has equipped the XL7 with a standard 2.7-liter V6 engine. A larger version of the Grand Vitara#8217;s V6, this dual-overhead-cam, 24-valve power-plant makes 170 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. XL-7 transmissions include a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic. And it#8217;s available with a rugged, shift on the fly, part-time 4-wheel-drive system.

It includes low range, something that most compact competitors don#8217;t offer.

The body-on-frame XL7 also has 7-inches of ground clearance, making it a real off- roader, not a boxy all-wheel-drive car. And one that gets down the road quite well, too.

With an automatic, 0 to 60 takes 9.4 seconds. With a 1/4 mile time of 17.1 seconds at 78 miles-per-hour.

Compared to the original Grand Vitara V-6, the XL-7#8217;s off-line grunt is much improved. The gearing seems perfect to use every ounce of smooth power, and use it well enough to trailer tow 3,000 pounds. The XL-7 can also be towed safely behind a motor home.

Fuel use for our 4-wheel-drive automatic XL-7 is EPA estimated at 17 city/20 highway. We averaged 18 miles-per-gallon in mixed driving. No surprises here.

If not surprised, we were pleased with stops. Average distance from 60 was an arrow straight 111 feet. Our Touring-grade XL-7 included standard ABS front discs and rear drums.

Both nose dive and pedal feedback were moderate.

In daily driving, the XL-7 is also quite easy to live with. The ride is quite comfortable, even on choppy roads. While the front MacPherson strut, and rear 5-link solid-axle suspension, give it the same nimble feel as its car-based Honda and Toyota competitors.

But while it may offer a lot more standard features too, it#8217;s just as easy to pay for. Base price for a 2-wheel-drive Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 is $20,299. If you need 4-wheel-drive, the price rises to $21,499.

Now options and plusher trim will push prices up from there, but that#8217;s a remarkably low entry cost for a V6 powered, body-on-frame sport-ute. Especially one that offers third row seating.

As our friends at AMI Auto World Weekly said, #8220;The only problem is that those (other seven passenger) vehicles cost real bucks. The less expensive SUVs, with sticker prices under $25,000, still carry only five passengers. That is, until now.#8221;

The 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 represents another big step forward for a company that first caught the attention of American buyers with its tiny two-wheelers. And as Suzuki moves into the mainstream family SUV segment, proves that in no small way it has what it takes to play in the big four-wheel leagues.

Other articles of the category "Suzuki":

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