Suzuki's 4x4 History

1996: Suzuki X-90

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

Late 1996 brought the introduction of an all-new type of vehicle from Suzuki: the X-90. A sporty 2-door T-top coupe bolted onto the short-wheelbase Sidekick's frame made for a very unique vehicle that sold well in some markets, particularly in island nations, but was ridiculed in others where its styling was seen as being a little too "cute." Just as capable off-road as a Sidekick but designed to emphasize the fun, sporty on-road characteristics of the chassis, the X-90 is a very underestimated little beast.

1998: Suzuki Vitara

After a preview on the worldwide auto show circuit of what was to come, Suzuki unveiled the company's largest and most powerful 4x4 yet. Available as the 4-cylinder 3 and 5-door, convertible and hardtop Vitara and Chevrolet Tracker, and as the V-6 Grand Vitara, Suzuki had a world-class vehicle.
Powered by new, more powerful engines and a luxurious interior of levels never before seen in a Suzuki, this was obviously developed as the vehicle to carry Suzuki through the millennium. The new 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve 127 horsepower engine was based on the 1.8-liter of the Sidekick Sport, while the new 155 horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cam 24-valve V-6 was based on the previous 2.0 V-6.
The United States only gets 3 models of the new Vitara: The short-wheelbase 3-door convertible Vitara, powered by a choice of either the carryover 1.6-liter SOHC engine or the 2.0 4-cyl, the long-wheelbase 5-door hardtop Vitara, available only with the 2.0 4-cyl, or the long-wheelbase 5-door Grand Vitara with the 2.5 V-6. 
Other parts of the world, however, have the additional choice of a 3-door hardtop Vitara, and even a 3-door hardtop Grand Vitara. Additionally, they are also given the choice of the 2.0 4 cylinder intercooled turbo diesel in any of the models. Some markets, in which the old boxy Vitara is sold alongside the curvy new one, use the name Vitara for the older model and Grand Vitara for the newer model, regardless of engine choice.

 1998: Suzuki Jimny

Also new in 1998, but not available in the United States or Canada, was the totally reworked Jimny. It continued with the coil sprung live axles front and rear with the venerable 1300cc single overhead cam engine, and while it was intended to still be a basic, inexpensive, rugged 4x4, it was also designed with comfort and luxury never before found in the SJ series. Such available features as power windows and an automatic transmission were intended to make this the most city-friendly Jimny ever, but its live axles, ladder frame, and dual-range transfer case show that behind its cute new face is a serious truck to be reckoned with.

2000: Suzuki XL6

Suzuki XL6 Suzuki's latest concept car -- the XL6 -- continues Suzuki's expansion into building larger SUV's. Based on the mechanical components of the Grand Vitara including the ladder frame, 2.5-liter V6, and 2-speed transfer case, Suzuki decided not to stray far from their success with building true 4x4's. However, the XL6 is much larger than any previous Suzuki, allowing room for three rows of seating for six or seven passengers. Obviously shod with low-profile tires and concept car guise, this could be a glimpse of the near future.

Suzuki has always been known for building "cute" little 4x4s, but their dependability both on and off road on any corner of the Earth has earned them a solid reputation. Contrary to the path taken by many other auto manufacturers today, Suzuki has never built a 4x4 that wasn't a true truck. No unibodies, no car-based all-wheel-drive systems, no weak street-biased suspension. Every Suzuki 4x4 has always been a hard-working truck that, although small, has had the ability to go anywhere the bigger trucks can, with the added benefit of small size and weight that gives them the agility that no other trucks possess. The qualities that Suzuki 4x4s exhibit can be appreciated anywhere in the world: Dependability, affordability, efficiency, agility, reliability, functionality, safety, attractiveness, and most importantly, fun.

It is for this reason that today Suzuki has a network of 57 production facilities in 27 different countries, providing cars and trucks to almost every country on Earth. Suzuki's vehicles have always had personality, something which cannot be said of many other vehicles, which is obviously appreciated by the owners of the 25 million cars and trucks Suzuki has sold and the near 2 million new and returning customers each year. Newsletter
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