Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $6,900*

2000 Suzuki Vitara 4-door wagon

2000 Suzuki Vitara 2-door wagon

2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara interior

2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara

2002 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4-door wagon

  • Off-road capability
  • Maneuverability
  • Acceleration
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room
  • Visibility

Off-road ability is the Vitara’s strongest quality. Both body styles have been priced to attract young buyers who crave a 4×4 image, but they’re also-rans in room and comfort.


Replacing the previous Sidekick, Suzuki’s new compact Vitara sport-utility vehicle came in four-door wagon form with a four-cylinder engine, and as a two-door convertible on a shorter wheelbase. Suzuki also introduced a Grand Vitara wagon with a six-cylinder engine and beefed-up body, as well as additional standard features.

Built on the same wheelbase as the Sidekick, the Vitara had a slightly longer body, more interior space, and fresh styling. All versions came with either rear-drive or four-wheel drive. With 4WD, the model designations added an “X.” The 4WD system included low-range gearing and could be shifted “on the fly” between 2WD and 4WD-High, but was not intended for use on dry pavement.

Rivals included the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Kia Sportage, and Toyota RAV4. Chevrolet offered a closely related Tracker, built by Suzuki from the same design as the Vitara, but with no V6 engine choice and no equivalent to the Grand Vitara.

Grand Vitaras actually went on sale first, with a 155-horsepower 2.5-liter V6. Choices included the JS and JS Plus with two-wheel drive, and JLX and JLX Plus with 4WD. “Plus” versions included alloy wheels and antilock braking (which was not available on other models).

Vitara convertibles had a folding soft top over the rear seats. JS and JX two-doors used a 97-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, while JLS and JLX two-doors, and all wagons, got a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that made 127 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with four-speed automatic optional.

Yearly Updates

2000 Vitara
A new top-line Grand Vitara Limited joined the group for 2000, and was the only model with leather upholstery, deep-tinted glass, and fog lamps. Grand Vitaras were outselling regular Vitaras by a 5-to-1 ratio, though that margin would later drop to 2-to-1. Antilock braking was standard only on the Grand Vitara JLS Plus, JLX Plus, and Limited.
2001 Vitara
Only detail changes in equipment marked the 2001 models. A revised audio system incorporated a CD player. Regular Vitaras displayed a revised grille, and the Grand Vitara Limited got new-look alloy wheels. All models except the Limited had new seat fabric.
2002 Vitara
This year, the Grand Vitara’s V6 engine gained 10 horsepower and the Grand Vitara Limited was available with heated front seats. Four-wheel-drive Limiteds came with heated door mirrors. All Vitaras gained rear child-seat mountings. The original Vitara’s 1.6-liter engine was dropped.
2003 Vitara
Gone for ’03 were JLS, JLX, and Limited trim levels, replaced by simple 2WD and 4WD designations. A restyled dashboard and center console freshened the cabin.
2004 Vitara
Only the 4-door wagon bodystyle and the 165-hp V6 survive for the Vitara in 2004. The 2-dr bodystyle and the 4-cylinder engine were cut this year.
2005 Grand Vitara
Suzuki’s smallest and oldest SUV loses its base Vitara model for 2005.


longitudinal front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive

Three engines have been available in Vitaras. A 1.6-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder in Vitara JS and JX convertibles produced 97 horsepower until it was discontinued after 2001. The 2.0-liter four in Vitara JLS and JLX convertibles and all wagons made 127 horsepower. Grand Vitaras carried a 2.5-liter V6, rated at 155 horsepower (raised to 165 in 2002). A five-speed manual gearbox was standard, with a four-speed automatic transmission optional. The 4-cylinder engine was cut in 2004.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 127
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 134
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 155-165
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 160-162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 97
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 103
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Four-cylinder Vitaras are slow, with coarse engines. A V6 Grand Vitara is a little quieter and quicker, but acceleration is only adequate, taking a leisurely 11.5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Automatic-equipped 4×4 models have averaged 17.9 to 20.7 mpg and furnish timely downshifts when coupled with the V6 engine. The manual gearshift is vague, with long throws.

Suzuki’s 4WD system is less convenient than a permanently engaged unit used in the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute, or Subaru Forester. Those rivals lack the Vitara’s 4-Low range for off-road work.

All models deliver an uncomfortably choppy ride on all but smooth surfaces. Directional stability is compromised by crosswinds, and steering feel is indistinct. Hard cornering brings marked body lean and only moderate grip.

Braking fails to inspire confidence, yielding substantial nosedive, inconsistent pedal action and, even with ABS, rear-wheel lockup in simulated panic stops.

Interiors are not especially hospitable, even on Grand Vitaras. Chair-height front seats are short on thigh support and rearward travel for long-legged occupants. The rear bench in both body styles is hard, has an even shorter cushion, and offers scant leg space. Step-in height is reasonable, but rear entry/exit is hampered by very narrow door bottoms in wagons.

Although the dashboard layout is good, audio controls (until 2001) were small and poorly marked. Interior storage is adequate, but cargo floors are short and space is modest for a wagon, even with rear seats folded. Worse, the one-piece cargo door on both body styles opens to the right, blocking loading from the curb.

Visibility is poor to the rear, but otherwise good. The air conditioner struggles to cool the cabin on sunny days, and most interior materials have a low-buck feel.


Model Tested: 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 2
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 2
Steering/Handling - 2
Quietness - 2


Controls/Materials - 3
Room/Comfort Front - 3
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 2

Total: 29


2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
86.6 152.0 67.3 66.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
33.7 14.8 4.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.9 39.5 41.4 30.5
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.6 164.6 70.1 67.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
44.7 16.8 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 39.6 41.4 30.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Fuel pump
Description: Suzuki is recalling 59,888 Grand Vitara SUVs from the 1999-2001 model years. When temperatures drop below minus 13 degrees (F), moisture can freeze in the fuel-pressure regulator. That could lead to fuel leakage, which could cause a fire in the presence of an ignition source.
Keyless entry
Description: Keyless-entry keyfob battery dies prematurely due to bad diode inside. Only applies to units with Suzuki name in white on fob. (1998-2002)
Suspension problems
Description: Vibrations from the front suspension and steering, especially at speeds in excess of 55 mph, make vehicle difficult to control. (1999-2002)

Recall History

Description: The steering shafts could separate due to a cracked coupling. Steering control could be lost without warning.
Description: An electrical short circuit could occur due to pinched wires between the rear stereo speaker and the speaker retaining plate.
Description: Seatbelts may not properly restrain occupants because of undertorqued lower- anchor bolts.
Description: Brakes may be inoperative due to a malfunctioning lamp-actuating switch.
1999-03 Grand Vitara
Description: Under ambient temperatures below -25 degrees (C), moisture may freeze in fuel pressure regulator; at time of start-up, fuel pressure may increase, causing fuel loss at pipe/hose connection.
1999-05 Grand Vitara, w/16-inch wheels
Description: Front brake discs may break under severe driving conditions.
1999-2004 Grand Vitara
Description: The accelerator cap may be faulty causing the accelerator cable to fray, resulting in the gas pedal possible sticking. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2000-01 Grand Vitara/Grand Vitara XL-7
Description: In cold weather, moisture can freeze and expand in the fuel-pressure regulator, causing fuel loss at the fuel-pipe/fuel hose-connection upon startup
2001 Grand Vitara
Description: Tire-information label is not permanently affixed as it should be.
2001-04 Grand Vitara XL-7
Description: Under ambient temperatures below -25 degrees (C), moisture may freeze in fuel pressure regulator; at time of start-up, fuel pressure may increase, causing fuel loss at pipe/hose connection.
2002-03 Grand Vitara
Description: Windshield may not be properly secured to the vehicle. Dealer will inspect and replace affected windshields.
2004 Vitara
Description: Under ambient temperatures below -25 degrees (C), moisture may freeze in fuel pressure regulator; at time of start-up, fuel pressure may increase, causing fuel loss at pipe/hose connection.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

Share this: