First Glance at the Grand VitaraI can recall the first SUV Suzuki brought to America. It was tiny, boxy, and provided unwanted notoriety when Consumer Reports managed to roll one. Still, there were owners who absolutely swore by it for off-road use. This was followed by a larger ute; Suzuki can, in fact, be credited with establishing the compact SUV segment. Then it moved up in size with the Vitara, which became the Grand Vitara, bringing with it some of the comfort features you'd find in a sedan. Still, it remained a funky, characterful vehicle you'd not mistake for anything else. Now we have an all-new Grand Vitara, which moves even further into the realm of car-like utes though it remains an honest off-roader.
No one can deny the handsome styling but therein lies a problem. This new Grand Vitara is no longer unique. Case in point: It was parked nose-to-tail with a hundred other vehicles on the bottom deck of the BC Ferry that was bringing us from Vancouver to my home on Vancouver Island. It can be difficult to find your car when you return from the passenger deck as the ferry approaches the dock; moments of panic happen if you're standing on starboard when you should be on port or bow instead of stern, and your car's nowhere in sight. Well... I spotted the Grand Vitara, tried to open the door, suddenly realised I was struggling with the wrong vehicle, a competing make in an identical color. Luckily I found the Suzuki in time to avoid blocking traffic. Goodbye funk, hello middle-of-the-road.