Crossover SUV Comparison: 2010 Subaru Outback, 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander, and 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Suzuki Grand Vitara Limited V6 4WD
While it's built using the unibody construction that typically categorizes a crossover, the Grand Vitara has a lot in common with a more traditional SUV. Its boxy shape and general proportions suggest a vehicle that's a downsized truck, rather than a hopped-up wagon. As its mechanicals indicate, it also has some off-road potential. There's a low range, a locking center differential, and hill-descent control.

At $28,448, the Suzuki Grand Vitara is significantly cheaper than the other two crossovers here. However, it also comes up short on content, without satellite radio, a power driver's seat, or a USB audio input. The navigations system is just a small, portable Garmin unit that's tucked into a flip-up lid on top of the dash. It's an affordable solution, but so is buying a Garmin from your local electronics store, and it can't provide the larger screen and more complete features of an integrated unit.

The current-generation Grand Vitara was released for the 2006 model year and already it feels and looks tired and dated. The simplistic exterior design fails to stand out, and the cabin's style and materials are more suitable for a $17,000 car. The interior execution is clean and well assembled, but the cockpit clearly lags behind the competition. For example, the faux burl wood accent pieces are both unconvincing and out of place in this Suzuki.

I love that the Outback is still basically a wagon. It would fit my needs for a family hauler, flyrod holder etc. And you don't have to step up on footboards to get into the thing. But when I got into one, looked at the dashboard and asked the saleman where the temperature gauge was ..... and he said there wasn't one but it had this nifty MPG gauge! Needless to say I was dumbfounded. No temperature gauge on a $25-$35,000 car? I get miffed getting into pickup trucks without voltmeters, oil pressure gauges and transmission oil temp gauges. Idiot lights are for idiots. Subaru design management must think I'm an idiot. Sorry Subaru, sale lost.
@bob_adams I agree that the lack of a temperature gauge is a significant oversight on Subaru's part. I also agree that analog, instantaneous MPG gauges are largely useless. In fact, they're a distraction.
I've been shopping for a replacement for my 1992 Volvo 240 S/W. I love this rear wheel drive car with room enough to put a 9 ft flyrod in without breaking it down everytime a drive to a new spot on the river. But she's getting long in the tooth. And even though I drive her everyday to work but I want something I can absolutely trust to use on long trips with the family.So I was interested in the Outback. But I won't buy one. You know why? Subaru doesn't put a temperature gauge in any of their cars. They put this instantaneous MPG gauge in its space. Inquirying minds might want to know. Since this test mentioned how soft the ride is on the Outback maybe Subaru put that MPG gauge in there for the soccer mom. They might be the only type of driver that would be interested in that sort of thing. Are the moving away from their original target market and headed mainstream?

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Subaru Outback

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