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ZUKIWORLD Reviews: The Suzuki XL-7 First Look

Suzuki unveils the new XL-7

Story by: Eric Bewley

BREA, CA – After forging a reputation as a pioneer in the small SUV market, Suzuki does it again by introducing the new 2001 Grand Vitara XL-7, its largest and most versatile vehicle ever.

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The XL-7 offers an unsurpassed combination of style, range of seating and cargo capabilities and affordability to cut through the clutter of the increasingly competitive SUV market. With standard V6 power, impressive feature content and versatile three-row seating, the stylish new XL-7 is a more sensibly-sized and affordable alternative to the mammoth three-ton SUV.

Suzuki’s vision for a new-generation SUV was first revealed to the public in the form of the XL6 concept SUV at the January 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Blending high style and impressive flexibility in a manageably sized package, the striking XL6 took the SUV market in a new direction. Now, the 2001 XL-7 brings that same “best all-around” theme and dynamic look to SUV buyers who demand more value for their money.

Building off the success of the Grand Vitara small SUV, Suzuki designed the XL-7 with a 12.6-inch longer wheelbase, and a commanding 19.1 inches longer overall length, making it the largest SUV that Suzuki has ever produced and seventh SUV model Suzuki has sold in the U.S. Under the hood, power comes from an up-sized, ll-aluminum 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 engine that can be coupled with manual or automatic transmissions and rear- or four-wheel drive. The rear-wheel-drive XL-7 starts under $20,000 MSRP, while four-wheel-drive models start under $21,000. This aggressive pricing and feature-packed content puts the XL-7 at the head of the new generation SUV class.

Utility, convenience and style are prime motivators for many SUV buyers. Take a look inside the XL-7 and you’ll find all these attributes in abundance. Even base models come with third-row split seating that folds to boost the cargo and passenger-carrying options.

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Third row split seat

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(Buyers for the luxury Acura MDX or the Mercedes Benz M-class must pay extra for their optional seating upgrade.)

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Given the XL-7’s high capability nature, standard V-6 power was mandatory. In a price segment where four-cylinder engines are the norm, the XL-7’s 2.7-liter V6 is clearly a cut above. Closely related to the 2.5-liter V6 engine that’s available in the Grand Vitara, the XL-7 powerplant is an advanced all-aluminum unit that leverages state-of-the-art technology, producing peak output of 170 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 178 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. To help maximize the engine’s output, the rear differential gearing has been lowered. The result is improved acceleration while still maintaining good fuel economy.

Browse the XL-7’s technical specification, and you’ll see more than a little in common with Suzuki’s highly advanced, championship-winning motorcycles. Four valves per cylinder ensure free breathing, while quad overhead camshafts provide precise valve control even at high rpm. Instead of using a rubber timing belt that requires occasional replacement (about a $300 to $500 job every 60,000 miles in most cases), the XL-7 uses an innovative two-stage timing chain that is self-lubricating, self-adjusting and maintenance-free. Another maintenance chore—valve tappet clearance adjustment—is eliminated completely with the Direct Drive Valvetrain (DDV). Hydraulic tappet clearance adjusters do the job automatically. Maintenance is further reduced by the direct ignition system that places the ignition coils over the spark plugs to eliminate the need for a distributor and high-tension ignition wires.

The XL-7 is well-suited for towing—or for being towed behind another vehicle. With its 3000-pound tow rating, it can easily handle a wide variety of trailers. For RV owners looking to pull the XL-7 along on their next adventure, four-wheel drive models can be towed with all four wheels on the ground; there are no driveline components to connect or disconnect. Additionally, XL-7s don’t accumulate odometer mileage while being towed, which can make for a substantial savings in depreciation costs.

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We are impressed with the well-thought out and purpose built nature of the XL-7. Look for our upcoming road test of the XL-7 where we gave this capable and credible SUV a run for it’s money.

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