Review: 2020 Suzuki Vitara Turbo (2WD)

Mike Boyd - January 17, 2020

The original Suzuki Vitara was launched in Australia in the late 1980s joining the very successful Suzuki Sierra (sold today as the Jimny). The Vitara was a more well equipped, sporty, and urban focussed version of the Sierra – which for over a decade was the cheap-and-cheerful go to for a small, reliable 4×4 for those that couldn’t afford or didn’t need something as robust as a Toyota LandCruiser or as utilitarian as the Subaru Brumby.

In the 1990s the Vitara buyer was very likely characterised by words like “active” and “sporty” and “adventurous”. It never tried to be anything it wasn’t and what it did well, it did very well.

Those of us that can remember the original Vitara or have seen them on the road, will be very glad to hear that the Suzuki Vitara of 2020 has grown up over the years and is now a very purposeful – and very capable – mid-sized SUV for those looking for a bit more of everything than you find in smaller SUVs or a small station wagon.

Highlights

Price Fuel Efficiency Looks Comfort
$30,750
(plus on-roads)
~8.0L/100km
(City driving)
7/10 8/10
Life Style Life Stage Safety On The Road
Active
Urban
Young families
Empty nesters
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
ANCAP
7/10

Interior

The interior of the 2020 Suzuki Vitara Turbo is a very nice place to be. The seats are very comfortable – although lacking a little support around the lower back and ribs.

Driver visibility is a real strength of the Vitara range. You can see everything you need to with very little intrusion by the A-pillar and the dashboard.

The back seats are less comfortable than the front seats, however there is plenty of room in the leg, shoulder and head areas. The seats are a combination of suede and leather which give the interior a luxurious feel.

The Vitara has loads of cup holders, storage holes and pockets in the front and the rear so your phone and other bits and pieces always have a home. I especially love the hidden shelf in the boot (a fake floor) that means things like shopping bags and umbrellas have a place out of the way of the everyday boot space and are then less likely to bump around and make a noise. Speaking of the boot, it’s a really good size for suitcases, shopping or strollers. 77cm (D) x 92cm (W) x 400 (H). The back seats of course fold flat providing plenty of room for pretty much anything by increasing the depth of the space in the rear from 77cm to 155cm.

A second 12V socket is is found in the boot. The lack of a 12V socket for the back-seats might be a bit annoying for the kids on longer trips as their devices run out of battery power.

The navigation / entertainment system is what you would expect in a mid-sized SUV. Only a couple of songs in our Car Speaker Test playlist troubled the six speaker Apple Car Play and Android Auto equipped sound system. Loads of controls on the steering wheel mean your eyes are always on the road and you’re not fumbling about trying to change tracks.

The dashboard is very clear and not obscured by the fully adjustable steering wheel. The small centre screen between the tachometer and the speedo allows the driver to rotate through a number of visualisations of everything from fuel consumption to power and torque dials as well as a cool g-force meter showing fluid motion of the vehicle.

Exterior

There has always been something about the styling and design of a Suzuki that was unique and distinctive. I’ve never looked at any Suzuki and mistaken it for something else.

Thankfully the 2020 Vitara Turbo has stuck to this theme extremely well I think. From almost every angle, it’s a good looking mid-sized SUV. It’s not a stunner – but it’s certainly not vanilla like quite a few others in this category.

The colour of the test car we had was called Savannah Ivory metallic with black pearl accents and dark tinting on the rear windows.

The ground clearance is very good – although our test car was the 2WD variant so off-roading is not really an option.

On The Road

I must say that from the moment I started driving the Vitara Turbo, I was a fan. The 1.4 litre turbo-charged engine is really responsive – it’s not hard to get the traction control light flashing at you in damp conditions if you are a little heavy on the accelerator pedal.

The steering is excellent with very good feel and you have a very good sense of exactly where the wheels are pointing. Our test route includes some twisty sections and I felt very confident that the Vitara would go where I pointed it as I approached a corner.

The brakes are especially good for a car of this size. You really have to stand on them to get the ABS to kick in. Other safety features include lane-departure and weave warnings and a trio of cameras and lasers above the centre rear-view mirror to ensure that any rapidly approaching obstacles ahead of you are seen and brought to your attention very quickly. Blind spot detection, as well as a reversing camera and parking sensors – front and rear – mean the 2020 Suzuki Vitara thoroughly deserves its 5 Star ANCAP safety rating. Another exceptional feature of the Vitara are the headlights which are a combination of halogen and LED projection and provide loads of light across the road.

The 6-speed automatic gearbox is great with paddles behind the steering wheel allowing the driver to drop down a gear when descending a hill or if you’re having some fun on a scenic drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The only little bit of practical sophistication that the Vitara Turbo lacks (and I’m really being picky) is that the passenger side exterior mirror doesn’t dip when you select reverse gear.

For and Against

+ One of the best air-conditioning systems I have ever experienced in any car. Super powerful, quick to cool the entire cabin, easy to use.

+ Driving position and visibility.

+ Safety systems included on a car in this price-range. Very impressive.

– No auto-dipping exterior mirror.

– A 12V socket for the rear passengers.

Who Will Love This Car?

The 2020 Suzuki Vitara Turbo is the perfect car for anyone looking for something bigger than a small station wagon or sedan, but not yet ready to spend $50K+ on an SUV that will spend most of its life running around the city. Families with young kids will love this car and it will love them back.

To be frank, it will suit anyone who likes a bit more space for themselves and prefers to be able to see everything from a slightly more raised point-of-view whilst enjoying the driving experience in a very safe and reliable mid-sized SUV. And if you’re “active” or “sporty” or “adventurous” you’ll also really enjoy the 2020 Suzuki Vitara Turbo.

Pricing

The 2020 Suzuki Vitara Turbo (2WD) with the Savannah Ivory metallic and black paint costs $30,750 plus on-road costs.

 

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