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Suzuki Grand Vitara vs Toyota RAV-4

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By Paul Kaganzi

Posted  Thursday, January 9  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Despite having been introduced in 2005, this third generation Suzuki Grand Vitara is not as popular in Uganda as the the third generation Toyota RAV-4 also introduced the same year. Although both are considered as soft off-roaders, the Suzuki has an edge over the Toyota in off-road ability. Paul Kaganzi writes

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PERFORMANCE
Both the third generation Toyota RAV4 and Grand Vitara vehicles have been improved to offer higher visibility, increased passenger and cargo room, better fuel economy and engine power, multi-terrain access as well as excellent reputation for reliability. The third generation Toyota RAV4 (2006-2008) is pretty different from the previous models, being developed on a new platform and including features that were not available on the earlier cars. The Suzuki Grand Vitara combines unexpected refinement when driven on tarmac with an aggressive dose of off-road capability. In today’s edition of head-to-head we feature the third generation RAV4 against the Grand Vitara with 2.4 litre petrol engines.

The RAV4 and Grand Vitara’s engines are quick to respond to acceleration yet economical. Grand Vitara’s slightly bigger engine has quicker acceleration and a slightly better fuel economy than the RAV4. This is due to the bigger Vitara engine capacity which delivers a bigger torque using lower engine revolutions. Both competing cars have enviably close results because they are fitted with Variable Valve Timing intelligent (VVTi ) with DOHC (double overhead camshaft) engine drive train technology in both vehicles.

RAV4 displays an impressive mix between economy and performance with the help of its Continuously Variable Transmission - CVT which shifts smoothly while adapting to one’s driving style and engine load to provide optimum power delivery with the least fuel consumption. However, it falls a step short of Grand Vitara’s five speed automatic transmission which blends well with its efficient power plant to deliver faster acceleration and better fuel economy.

THE HANDLING
The RAV4 and Grand Vitara are enjoyable and comfortable to drive because they are both kitted with similar suspension designs and body construction. The front axles have independent McPherson gas struts with coil springs and stabiliser bars. The RAV4 and Grand Vitara rear suspension have four wheel independent suspensions with trailing links, double wishbone, stabiliser bar and coil springs.

Both cars have a good road grip and responsive steering. The RAV4 and Grand Vitara do not sway or swerve easily when driven fast around sharp bends. RAV4 and Grand Vitara utilise electronic stability and traction control programmes to enhance road holding and safe manoeuvring. Electronic brake force distribution with brake assist prevent skidding and facilitate safe sudden stopping should the need arise.

RELIABILITY
The RAV4 and Grand Vitara have a good reliability record. However, engine fluid and filter service must be done regularly with reputable lubricant vendors. Verify condition of the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension and body (in case of major accident history).

Their DOHC drive trains and electronic fuel injection systems are sensitive to high grade engine oil and unadulterated unleaded fuel. Maintenance should be carried out with genuine parts. Unfortunately, only Toyota has small independent and appointed parts dealers to handle after sales service and parts. Generally, body and suspension parts for both vehicles are costly. The resale value of the RAV4 is better than the Grand Vitara..

SAFETY & COMFORT
The RAV4 has a more chiseled and sharp exterior design which gives it a feminine and macho appeal with promise to perform well both on and off-road. Grand Vitara’s purposefully protruding curves give it a bold presence which seems to intimidate most competitors except the slender but elegant RAV4. Grand Vitara’s longer stature accentuates its road holding prowess both on Uganda’s highway tarmac and up country dirt roads.

The interiors of RAV4 and Grand Vitara are designed and built with the urban but adventurous young family in mind. Modern and practical seat layouts, ample storage facilities and access to convenient features and accessory controls.

The Grand Vitaras’s interior—in fabric or leather—is nicely done. The centre-stack with the entertainment and temperature controls layout has the modern bold and inspiring chrome finish. RAV4’s interior finish is also bedecked with the modern chrome look and with a practical sense of style and easy to access knobs and switches. The keyless go engine start button reminds you that this is the 21st century where you can keep the key in your pocket but get to access, start and drive your car away.

Safety and comfort features are modern in both the RAV4 and Grand Vitara. Dual front airbags (with human knee airbag in the RAV4) and side curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat harnessing points on rear seat, Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist, electronic stability programme with traction control, side and front impact intrusion beams, and three point seat belts all round have earned these rivaling cars an average of four stars in global safety test rating.

VERDICT
RAV4 and Grand Vitara share three points for good on and off road handling, good comfort and safety standards as well as reliability. Grand Vitara earns a fourth star point for a more spacious and practical interior design. RAV4 also earns a fourth point for having a better resale value due to easier availability of parts.