The Suzuki Grand Vitara is classified as a sport utility off-road vehicle that is produced by Japanese carmaker Suzuki, and production started in 1988. This vehicle is also known as the Sidekick in the North American market and it had a production run from 1988 to 1998. This vehicle was also known as the Vitara in Western Europe as well as Bolivia, the Phillippines, Ecuador, Taiwan, and Hong Kong since 1999. It was also known as the Grand Vitara in the United Kingdom as well as Eastern Europe and countries throughout South Asia.
This vehicle was sold under a number of different badges, including the Geo Tracker in the United States, as well as the GMC Tracker, Chevrolet Tracker, and Geo Tracker. The Grand Vitara was also sold as the Santana 300 and 350 in Spain, and it received the Mazda badge in the Japanese market. The first generation of the Grand Vitara was introduced to the public as the Escudo in the Japanese domestic market in May of 1998 and it became available as a 2-door convertible or hardtop model in 1989. This vehicle uses a 1.0 liter JA 4-wheel drive engine in both JX and JLX trims. There is also an 80 horsepower 1.6 liter 8-valve 4-cylinder Suzuki G16 engine that was made available on the JX and JLX. The upscale JLX version was, however, discontinued by 1991.
In the place of the JLX model vehicle was the 4-door Sidekick which came with a lengthened wheelbase and a 95 horsepower 1.6 liter 16-valve Suzuki G16A engine. In 1991, rear antilock brakes were added to this vehicle as an additional safety measure. The original version of the Grand Vitara received an update in 1996 with a new Sport version available with 120 horsepower 1.8 liter 16-valve 4-cylinder Suzuki J18 engine. The Sport version of this vehicle also came equipped with dual airbags as well as 2-tone paint and 16” allow wheels.
The Suzuki X-90 was introduced in 1996 and was mechanically identical to the Sidekick, except for the fact that it had a much rounder body and trunk as well as a removable T-bar roof. This vehicle suddenly disappeared from Suzuki’s lineup after the 1998 model year, and the Sport version took its place by 1999. Production of this vehicle took place in Spain and the Vitara nameplate was once again used, but after a facelift in 2005, the Santana 300/350 nameplate began to be used.
The third generation of the Grand Vitara uses some of the componenets from the GM Theta Platform and is manufactured in Japan. The 2006 Escudo was initially developed independently by the same Suzuki engineers who were responsible for developing the Theta. While it does share a number of components with the Theta, especially its suspension, most of it is completely different and unique. This vehicle uses a longitudinally mounted engine as well as rear-wheel drive with a 103.9 wheelbase, though all of the other vehicles in this serve are transverse engined.
The most widely available Grand Vitara is the 5-door version, though there is a 3-door version that is available in certain markets. There are some markets where the 3-door variants of this vehicle dropped the “Grand” brand, opting simply for “Vitara”. In other countries, such as Chile, the 5-door version of this vehicle is called the Grand Nomade. This vehicle received a significant facelift in the second half of 2008 with a new 2.4 liter inline four that is capable of producing 122 kW or power and 225 N m or 209 pound-feet of torque. The Vitara is widely regarded as one of Suzuki’s most popular models, though it is no longer in production.