It's easy to forget about the Suzuki Grand Vitara when shopping for a new sport utility vehicle, unless you're a big budget watcher.
The 2008 Grand Vitara - which has seats for five, a standard V-6 and a limited powertrain warranty that lasts for 100,000 miles or seven years, whichever comes first - has the lowest starting retail price of all 2008 V-6-powered SUVs with four doors.
In fact, the Grand Vitara's starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $19,999 for a base, two-wheel drive model with 185-horsepower V-6 and five-speed manual transmission is just $384 more than the starting price for a four-cylinder-powered 2008 Honda Element. It's also just $329 more than the starting price for a 2008 Ford Escape with four cylinder.
The Grand Vitara doesn't get a lot of advertising push from Suzuki, Japan's smallest automaker.
But the nicely sized, 14.7-foot-long Grand Vitara has pleasant exterior styling, many standard amenities, including power windows, central locking system and automatic air conditioning with pollen filter, and six air bags.
It even boasts 7.4 inches of ground clearance, for the times a driver might have to go off road to get to a camping area or family cabin.
Still, sales fell 27 percent last year to 19,538 as competition intensified among SUVs - there are at least eight V-6-powered SUVs priced within $2,000 of the base Grand Vitara, including the 2008 Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.
The Kia and Hyundai SUVs also come with 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranties that are good for the mileage limit or 10 years, whichever comes first, and both posted sales gains in calendar 2007.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.