Suzuki Vitara
2015-2017 Suzuki Vitara (LY) RT-S wagon (2017-12-09) 01.jpg
Manufacturer Suzuki
Also called Suzuki Escudo
Production 1988–present
Body and chassis
Class Mini SUV (5-door: 1988–1998, 3-door: 1988–2017)
Compact SUV (5-door: 1998–2017)
Compact Crossover SUV (5-door: 2015–present)
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive (1988–2015)
Front engine, front-wheel-drive / four-wheel drive (2015–present)

The Suzuki Vitara is a compact SUV produced by Suzuki in four generations since 1988. The second and third generation models were known as the Suzuki Grand Vitara, with the fourth and current series eschewing this prefix. In Japan and a number of other markets, all generations have used the name Suzuki Escudo.

The original series was designed to fill the slot above the Suzuki Jimny. The first generation was known as Suzuki Sidekick in the United States. The North American version was produced as a joint venture between Suzuki and General Motors known as CAMI. The Sidekick was sold in various badges such as the Geo Tracker (Chevrolet Tracker after 1998) in the United States, and as the GMC Tracker, Chevrolet Tracker, Asüna Sunrunner and Pontiac Sunrunner in Canada. It was also sold as the Santana 300 and 350 in Spain. In the Japanese market, it was also sold as the Mazda Proceed Levante.

The second generation was launched in 1998 under the "Grand Vitara" badge in most markets. It was accompanied by a still larger SUV known as the Suzuki XL-7 (known as Grand Escudo in Japan). The third generation was launched in 2005.

The fourth generation, released in 2015, reverted to the original name "Vitara" in most markets, but shifted from an off-road SUV towards a more road-oriented crossover style. It shares the platform and many components with the SX4 S-Cross, a compact crossover in a similar class.[1]

First generation (1988–1998)

First generation (ET/TA)
1992-1994 Suzuki Vitara (SE416C Type2) JX softtop 01.jpg
Also called Suzuki Escudo
Suzuki Sidekick
Mazda Proceed Levante
Santana 300/350
Daewoo Vitara
Chevrolet Tracker
Geo Tracker
GMC Tracker
Pontiac Sunrunner
Asüna Sunrunner
Production 1988–1998
Model years 1989–1999
Body and chassis
Class Mini SUV
Body style 2-door convertible
3 and 5-door wagon
Engine 1.6 L G16A I4 (petrol)
1.6 L G16B I4 (petrol)
1.8 L I4 (petrol)[citation needed]
2.0 L H20A V6 (petrol)
1.9 L XUD I4 (diesel)
2.0 L RF I4 (diesel)
Transmission 3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 3-door: 86.6 in (2,200 mm)
5-door: 97.6 in (2,479 mm)
Length 3-door: 143.7 in (3,650 mm) (1996–98)
142.5 in (3,620 mm) (1989–1995)
5-door: 158.7 in (4,031 mm)
5-door Sport: 162.4 in (4,125 mm)
Width 3-door: 65.2 in (1,656 mm) (1996–98)
64.2 in (1,631 mm) (1989–1995)
5-door: 64.4 in (1,636 mm)
5-door Sport: 66.7 in (1,694 mm)
Height 3-door: 64.3 in (1,633 mm) (2WD, 1992–93 & 1996–98)
65.6 in (1,666 mm) (1989–1991)
65.1 in (1,654 mm) (4WD, 1992–93 & 1996–98)
64.4 in (1,636 mm) (2WD 1994–95)
65.2 in (1,656 mm) (4WD 1994–95)
5-door: 65.7 in (1,669 mm) (2WD)
66.5 in (1,689 mm) (4WD)
66.3 in (1,684 mm) (Sport)
Successor Suzuki Ignis
1989–1991 Suzuki Sidekick 3-door (US)
1992–1994 Suzuki Vitara JX softtop (Australia)
Suzuki Sidekick JX 5-door (US)
Suzuki Sidekick Sport 5-door (US)
Mazda Proceed Levante (Japan)

Escudo was first introduced in the Japanese domestic market in July 1988. The name is derived from the "escudo", the monetary unit of Portugal before adoption of the Euro. North American Sidekick became available for model year 1989 as a two-door convertible or hardtop. A fuel injected 80 hp (60 kW) 1.6-litre, eight-valve, four-cylinder Suzuki G16 engine was available on the JX and JLX. 1990 brought the deletion of the upscale JLX version. A carburetted version without a catalytic converter was available for some markets; this model produces 75 PS (55 kW) at 5250 rpm.[2]

In August 1990, the Japanese market received a sixteen-valve version with 100 PS (73.5 kW) as well as an optional four-speed automatic.[2] At the same time, the commercial Van version was discontinued. Three months later a five-door version with a lengthened wheelbase was introduced; it was sold as the "Escudo Nomade" in Japan. It was thought that the five-door would overlap with the shorter three-door in the market; instead, it appealed to a whole new segment and sales in the domestic Japanese market doubled as a result.[3] 1991 brought the introduction of rear antilock brakes. European deliveries of the five-door version began in the summer of 1991.[2]

For the 1992 model year a 95 hp (71 kW), 1.6-litre, 16-valve Suzuki G16A engine was introduced to the United States. The original Sidekick was updated in 1996 with a new Sport version available with 120 hp (89 kW), 1.8-litre 16-valve four-cylinder Suzuki J18 engine. The Sport also had dual airbags, two-tone paint and 16-inch alloy wheels. 1993 brought an update of the dash in conjunction with the exterior. There is also a very limited edition named Vitara Rossini which came in metallic pink with a cream leather interior, only 250 of this model were produced worldwide,

In December 1994, a 2.0 V6 (Suzuki's first six-cylinder) and a 2.0-liter Mazda-sourced turbodiesel were added; in return, Mazda got to sell the Escudo in the Japanese market as the Mazda Proceed Levante. A diesel option arrived in Europe in early 1996. In 1996 the Vitara received a facelift, which meant that the V6 was upsized to 2.5 liters while a 2.0-liter four-cylinder was slotted into the range. In Japan, the "Nomade" tag was dropped from the five-door Escudos. For the 1996 model year, Suzuki introduced the Suzuki X-90 which was mechanically identical to the Escudo/Vitara but had a much rounder body, a trunk, and removable T-bar roof.[4] The Suzuki X-90 disappeared from Suzuki's lineup after the 1998 model year. The Sport variant was replaced by the Grand Vitara in 1999.

In Australia, there were two models available. The Vitara JX and the Vitara JLX. The JLX featured mainly with powered windows. Both versions featured the 1.6 Litre engine. In May 1997, Suzuki introduced the 1995 cc 2.0 Litre 4 Valves/Cylinder Double Overhead Cam engine with both soft-top and hardtop three-door models. This engine was rated at 97 kW (130 hp) at 6300 rpm. At the same time the five-door models received the 1998 cc 2.0-litre V6. Engine power rated for the five-door V6 models was at 100 kW (134 hp) at 6500 rpm. The 1.6-litre variant for the three-door models were named the Suzuki Vitara Rebel. All models in Australia were sold as four-wheel drives.

In Indonesia Suzuki only sold the five-door model, first introduced as the Vitara in 1992.[5] Suzuki added a two-wheel drive version labelled Escudo in 1994 to target the urban-driver market and to evade higher taxes on four-wheel-drive vehicles, while the four-wheel-drive Vitara remained available. In 1996, Suzuki introduced the Sidekick, a down-specced version of the Escudo, as the entry level model. Indonesia is the only market in the world which received all three different names of the Escudo. Later, only 5-door models with the 1.6-litre petrol engine were offered, with no automatic transmission. In 1995, the Vitara received fuel-injection system and marketed as Vitara EPI (Electronic Petrol Injection). However, due to much higher price, Vitara EPI sold poorly in the market and later considered become collector item since its rarity. For also 1995, the Vitara got new interiors. Official production for this generation ended in 2006 with the end of the Santana 300/350.

Second generation (1998–2005)

Second generation (FT/GT)
99-01 Suzuki Grand Vitara.jpg
Also called Chevrolet Tracker
Daewoo Vitara
Mazda Proceed Levante
Suzuki Escudo
Suzuki Grand Vitara
Production 1998–2005
Model years 1999–2005
Assembly Japan: Iwata, Shizuoka
Canada: Ingersoll, Ontario
Colombia: Colmotores, Bogotá
Indonesia: Bekasi (Suzuki Indomobil Motor)
United States: Rome, Georgia (SMAC)
Spain: Santana Motor, Linares
Body and chassis
Class Compact SUV
Body style 2-door convertible
3 and 5-door wagon
Related Suzuki XL-7
Engine 1.6 L G16B I4 (petrol)
2.0 L J20A I4 (petrol)
2.5 L H25A V6 (petrol)
2.0 L RF/RFM I4 (diesel)
2.0 L RHW/RHZ I4 (diesel)
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 3-door: 86.6 in (2,200 mm)
5-door: 97.6 in (2,479 mm)
Length 2002–05 5-door: 164.5 in (4,178 mm)
1999–2001 5-door: 163.0 in (4,140 mm)
Width 3-door: 67.3 in (1,709 mm)
2002–05 5-door: 70.1 in (1,781 mm)
1999–2001: 70.0 in (1,778 mm)
Height 2002–05 5-door AWD: 67.8 in (1,722 mm)
2002–05 5-door 2WD: 67.3 in (1,709 mm)
3-door: 66.5 in (1,689 mm)
1999–2001 5-door AWD: 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
1999–2001 5-door 2WD: 68.0 in (1,727 mm)
Suzuki Grand Vitara 3-door (Australia)
Suzuki Grande Escudo (XL-7) 5-door (Japan)
Mazda Proceed Levante (Japan)

Suzuki announced the second-generation model on 18 January 1998 for 1999. Now slightly larger, pricier and more powerful, it uses a light-duty automobile-type rack-and-pinion steering box instead of the recirculating ball truck unit used in the first generation. The class was moved from mini SUV to compact SUV for the five-door version while the three-door version retained mini SUV. In most international markets the name "Grand Vitara" was adopted. In many markets it was originally only available with larger (two liters and up) engines while the earlier Vitara was still available. In the United Kingdom, a 1.6-liter Grand Vitara (the GV1600) arrived in early 2001.[6]

It was facelifted in for 2002 and again in 2004. A rebadged version was sold in North America by General Motors as the Chevrolet Tracker. The Tracker is sold in Latin America, excluding Mexico, as Chevrolet Grand Vitara. In Mexico, Grand Vitara and Tracker are different vehicles, sold by Suzuki and Chevrolet respectively. In Chile, the five-door Grand Vitara was known as Grand Nomade. In Japan, an OEM deal with Mazda meant that the wagon was also sold as the Mazda Proceed Levante.

As of 2003, the smaller Suzuki Vitara has been withdrawn from the North American market. Sales were slow, with just 4,860 sold in 2004 for the United States. In Canada, sales were strong. All North American Vitaras were built at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario and in the Riverside facilities. The soft-top was only built in North America, with European export models assembled in Canada. Interestingly, the three-door wagon was brought in from Japan for European buyers and sold alongside the Canadian-made convertibles.[6] The 2001 model Suzuki Grand Vitara comes standard as a 2.0-liter 4WD vehicle in New Zealand.

Grand Escudo

In 1998 The Grand Escudo arrived, a longer, slightly larger, pricier and more powerful version of the regular five-door. The Japanese market Grand Escudo was sold in North America and Chile as the Suzuki XL-7. In Australia and Europe it was marketed as the Grand Vitara XL-7.

Third generation (2005–2017)

Third generation (JT)
2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara Limited 2 -- 05-12-2010.jpg
Suzuki Grand Vitara Limited (USA)
Also called Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki Escudo
Production 2005–2017
Assembly Japan: Iwata, Shizuoka
United States: Riverside, California[7]
Canada: Ingersoll, Ontario[8]current
Body and chassis
Class Compact SUV
Body style 3 and 5-door SUV
Engine 1.6 L M16A I4 (petrol)
2.0 L J20A I4 (petrol)
2.4 L J24B l4 (petrol)
2.7 L H27A V6 (petrol)
3.2 L V6 (petrol)
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic (AW 03-72LE)
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 5-door: 2,639 mm (104 in)
3-door: 2,440 mm (96.1 in)
Length 2009 5-door: 4,501 mm (177 in)
2006–2008 5-door: 4,470 mm (176 in)
3-door: 4,005 mm (157.7 in)
Width 5-door: 1,811 mm (71 in)
3-door: 1,810 mm (71.3 in)
Height 5-door: 1,694 mm (67 in) & 1,684 mm (66 in)
3-door: 1,695 mm (66.7 in)
3-door SUV
5-door SUV

The second generation was replaced in the (northern hemisphere) autumn of 2005 by a new vehicle using some components of the GM Theta platform, and is built in Japan. The 2006 Escudo was developed independently by many of the same Suzuki engineers who developed the Theta. Although it uses some Theta componentry, especially in the suspension, it is quite different and should not be considered a Theta vehicle. Notably, it uses a longitudinally mounted engine and is at least rear-wheel drive with a 103.9 in (2639 mm) wheelbase, while all other Theta vehicles are transverse engined, defaulting to front-wheel drive. While the other Theta vehicles can be ordered with a front-drive biased 'all-wheel drive', the Escudo instead offers off-road capable selectable four-wheel drive.[9] The contemporary generation Suzuki XL7 (starting in model year 2007) was a true Theta vehicle, and was built alongside the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.

The most widely available Escudo is the 5-door version, but a three-door version is also available in some markets. In some markets the three-door variant drops the "Grand" to be branded simply "Vitara". In some countries, including Chile the 5-door version is named "Grand Nomade".


In the second half of 2008, the Suzuki Grand Vitara was given a facelift and two new engines. A 2.4L inline four is offered producing 124 kW (169 PS; 166 hp) of power and 221 N⋅m (163 lb⋅ft) of torque. The new V6 is only offered in the flagship prestige model which produces 165 kW (224 PS; 221 hp) of power and 284 N⋅m (209 lb⋅ft) of torque. Fuel economy has also been improved with the addition of VVT to both engines and the 1.9L Turbo-Diesel has also received some mechanical work improving its economy. Safety has also been improved with more air-bags and traction control being standard on all models. The four mode four-wheel-drive system is also available on all models. It features a lockable central differential along with low ratio gears. Subtle improvements were made on the exterior of the car such as indicators in the door mirrors and a more pronounced front grille and bumper. The interior also saw a lot of more aesthetically pleasing changes.

Suzuki Grand Nomade facelift (Chile)


In the second quarter of 2012 for the 2013 model year, Suzuki unveiled a facelift Escudo with new wheels, a new grille and front lights. The V6 engine was discontinued from here on. Starting with this facelift, the Grand Vitara in Indonesia is now a rebadged Escudo, imported from Japan.


Suzuki officially discontinued the third generation Escudo in Japan in April 2017, and the third generation Grand Vitara in Indonesia in late 2017. In Iran, it is still being produced by IKCO, with only the J24B I4 engine being offered with the 4 speed automatic gearbox, along with a 5 speed manual gearbox. In Indonesia, it was replaced by the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, sold alongside the fourth generation Vitara.

Fourth generation (2015–present)

Fourth generation (LY)
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 Comfort+ (IV) – Frontansicht, 8. August 2015, Düsseldorf.jpg
Also called Suzuki Escudo
Production 2015-present
Assembly China: Chongqing (Changan Suzuki)
Hungary: Esztergom
Body and chassis
Class Compact Crossover SUV
Body style 5-door crossover
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Front-engine, four-wheel-drive
Related Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Mitsubishi RVR
Predecessor Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki SX4
2015 Suzuki Vitara

The fourth generation of Vitara was presented at 2014 Paris Motor Show.[10] Its production (by Suzuki Magyar) parallels the third generation. It went on sale in Japan as the fourth generation Suzuki Escudo on 15 October 2015. The all-new fourth generation model is 125 mm (4.9 in) shorter, 85 mm (3.3 in) lower, 35 mm (1.4 in) leaner, it is now a compact crossover, and has a wheelbase 140 mm (5.5 in) shorter than the previous generation Grand Vitara, making the Vitara can easier to drive on narrow roads and tight parking spaces.[11][12]

Suzuki released a special version of the fourth generation Vitara called the Vitara S or Vitara Sport in some markets. The Vitara S features a 1.4-liter turbocharged petrol engine (List of Suzuki engines), which delivers 20 percent more power and 40 percent more torque over the standard 1.6-liter petrol engine. The Vitara S was available in 4WD "Allgrip" only until summer 2016, starting with autumn 2016 the 2WD system is available for the S variant. The Vitara S also comes with several cosmetic changes over other Vitara trim levels including leather/suede sports seats with red stitching, aluminum sports pedals, red LED headlamp surrounds, distinctive five-slotted grille and black alloy wheels. The new model Vitara S also gets a heart transplant, swapping out the old 86 kW/156Nm 1.6-litre atmo four-cylinder for a far punchier 103 kW/220Nm 1.4-litre 'Boosterjet' turbo four shared with the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross facelift 2017, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission as standard.


In 1998, Suzuki produced the Escudo Dirt Trial for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event in North America, which has two twin-turbocharged 2.5-liter V6 engines driving the front and rear wheels respectively. With a combined output of 732 kW (981 hp) at 9000 rpm, this variant has a top speed of 336 km/h (209 mph). It remained four-wheel drive and weighed 800 kilograms (1,800 lb). It was driven by Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima.[13]


  1. ^ "Suzuki Vitara review". Auto Express. 14 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1992). Automobil Revue 1992 (in German/French). 87. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 537. ISBN 3-444-00539-3. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Donn, ed. (April 1993). "Making more out of small cars". New Zealand Car. Vol. 7 no. 17. Auckland, New Zealand: Accent Publishing Cnr. p. 8. ISSN 0113-0196. 
  4. ^ Asia Spy Report, Popular Mechanics, July 1995, p. 29 
  5. ^ Alfan, Charis (2016-06-16). "Suzuki Vitara, Escudo dan Sidekick SB416". Mobil Motor Lama (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 2017-05-08. 
  6. ^ a b Enright, Andy (31 October 2005). "Suzuki Grand Vitara (1998 - 2006) used car review". RAC Motoring Services. 
  7. ^ "Al volante del Suzuki Grand Vitara". El Periódico del Motor. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  8. ^ ID=76&Section=1&Series=Suzuki+Grand+Vitara
  9. ^ "2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara". Eric Peters Autos. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Nuevo Suzuki Vitara - Salón del Automóvil de Parí 2014". 
  11. ^ "Suzuki Announces Exhibits for the 44th Tokyo Motor Show 2015". 30 September 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "スズキ、コンパクトSUV 新型「エスクード」を発売". 15 October 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Carbonare, Dino Dalle (18 April 2014). "Twin-Engined & Terrifying: A Monster Suzuki". Speedhunters. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 

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