SUZUKI Escudo / Vitara 3 Doors
Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The 2005 version of Suzuki Vitara is the latest generation of this small SUV which is now built on the GM Theta platform in Japan.
Although the main model which comes with a 5-door body style is usually called Grand Vitara, the 3-door version is referred as Vitara due to its chassis which isn’t regarded as ”grand” compared to the main edition of the SUV. The new car is available with multiple transmission versions, including a 5-speed manual and two 4- and 5-speed automatic. Moreover, it is powered by multiple engines, ranging from 1.6 liter 16V to 2.7 liter V6 and 1.9 liter turbodiesel.
Known as a big maker of small cars and motorcycles, Suzuki tried to build a small SUV and launched it in 1989: the Vitara.
It was built in three variants: three-door, five-door and convertible. The same car was known in the U.S. as the Geo Sidekick or GMC Sidekick. The small engine and light body-on-frame vehicle had a good fuel consumption and decent performance on road.
For off-road use, it had a 4x4 system with a transfer box and hi-low range. Front independent suspension ensured decent comfort for the occupants. The rear live-axle was good in off-road even if it didn’t have a lockable differential.
The interior features were minimal: air-conditioning, a radio-cassette player and that was it. An automatic 4-speed transmission was available as an option, but the standard was a 5-speed manual. In Europe, it was known as the Suzuki Vitara and it has a 1.6-liter engine with 80 hp. Later on, a 2.0-liter V6 gasoline engine was added, and a 2.0-liter diesel unit from Mazda.
It wasn’t until 1990 when the 16 valve engine with 100 hp was installed. The aging Suzuki Vitara convertible received a facelift in 1996 and new engines were installed. The 1.6-liter unit was replaced with a four-pot 2.0-liter engine, and the 2.0-liter V6 was replaced with a 2.5-liter V6 gasoline unit. In 1998, a new generation was launched.
Suzuki introduced the Vitara lineup in 1988 as a 1989 model for those looking for a light SUV but needed more room and comfort than the rugged Samurai.
The Japanese carmaker didn’t want to use a chassis anymore and tried to increase comfort and features inside the vehicle. It resulted in one of the most popular SUVs in the compact-segment from the early ’90s, the Vitara. Designed as a unit-body vehicle, available as a three-door hard-top or two-door convertible, the Vitara was known for its lightweight and the fuel-efficiency that made it very useful in urban traffic.
The exterior was a mix of straight-line and curved panels. Its designers installed enlarged fenders over the wheel-arches to make the car looks more muscular. In the rear, the tiny taillights installed above the bumpers were protected by annoying parking scratches.
Inside, there were two comfortable seats at the front and a small bench in the back fit for two children or not-so-tall adults. The car provided limited legroom, and the main reason it featured a bench was to expand the, otherwise, tiny trunk. In fact, it was so small that the carmaker couldn’t place the spare-wheel inside the vehicle.
Under the hood, Suzuki installed a choice of three engines, depending on the market. All of them were paired as standard to a 5-speed transmission. A transfer-case ensured the 4x4 system.