I forgot just how much I missed Suzuki's small, utilitarian SUVs until I stared longingly at a pristine LJ-40 at this year's Chicago auto show.
The Grand Vitara may be many decades removed from that small two-cylinder Jeep-like vehicle, but the lineage still remains. While other cute-utes have developed into more comfortable, car-like machines, the Grand Vitara retains its off-road credentials. I can't remember the last time I climbed into any other compact sport-ute and found a transfer case that allowed me to select a low-range or shift into neutral.
Sadly, it seems Suzuki will only let you attain such features by springing for higher models. I'd be more than happy to have a basic, four-cylinder version with the full-fledged transfer case and a five-speed manual, but it's not offered. The only way to get a manual transmission is to buy a rear-wheel-drive Grand Vitara, while the transfer case of my dreams seems to be relegated to V-6 models. Pity.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer