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Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2020: family review


The Suzuki Vitara brings back fond memories of teenagers piled into a convertible SUV and bouncing through the streets, and while the 2020 Suzuki Vitara is somewhat different, it still looks as fun as ever.

I test drove the Vitara Turbo which is in the middle of the range and costs $29,990, before on-road costs.

It competes with cars like the Mazda CX-3 and the Ford EcoSport. This week we had to drive about three hours out of Sydney to pick up our new puppy so I had a great base to test the car on.

Here's how it did over seven days for this week's family review.

How does it look?

It's got a cool, fun design on the exterior, with curved corners that feel quite modern, a happy front grille and a two tone finish that reminds me of a Mini Countryman - only not quite as refined.

  • The Turbo has a cool, fun design on the exterior. The Turbo has a cool, fun design on the exterior.
  • It features a happy front grille. It features a happy front grille.
  • The curved corners feel quite modern. The curved corners feel quite modern.
  • This exterior really sets the standard for the rest of the car. This exterior really sets the standard for the rest of the car.
  • The Turbo has a two tone finish. The Turbo has a two tone finish.

This exterior really sets the standard for the rest of the car and you know you're getting into something that's light on sophistication, heavy on novelty.

The interior is good for the price bracket. The interior is good for the price bracket.

Inside is good for the price bracket, but it's not as well designed as for example, a Mazda CX-3. The seats are a combination of leather-look with a quilted, suede-like fabric centre that looks quite lovely, the seats lift the whole interior to a higher level.

The seats are a combination of leather-look with a quilted, suede-like fabric centre. The seats are a combination of leather-look with a quilted, suede-like fabric centre.

The rest of it is fairly basic, with some funky trims like the circular air vents and the metallic features on the dash giving the whole car an appealing finish.

How does it drive?

This Vitara Turbo has a 1.4-litre turbo engine but don't expect it to shoot out from the blocks like a sprinter, it's not that kind of turbo.

It gets along fine but doesn't have the speed or smooth feeling of some others in this category. It will get you from A to B without any fuss and feels nice to be in on the road.

This Vitara Turbo has a 1.4-litre turbo engine. This Vitara Turbo has a 1.4-litre turbo engine.

I drove it down south to pick up our puppy and it got us there and back perfectly fine, I just kept to the left lane. This one is a front-wheel drive, not AWD, so I would call it more of a city/suburban car.

It's nifty to drive on busy roads, moving in and out of traffic with ease, and is more suited to that than long journeys.

It also parks easily because of its compact size and has a good, high definition reverse parking camera.

How spacious is it?

This is where the Vitara Turbo shines because it has more than ample interior space, giving the feel of a car slightly larger than usual small SUVs.

The front has enough leg and head space even for taller members of my family, and we didn't have to compromise by moving our seats forward to give the children more room in the back.

The back is spacious enough for kids and adults. The back is spacious enough for kids and adults.

The kids were perfectly happy in the back seat and I could easily fit back there at 161cm. There was about 20cm between my knees and the seat in front of me so those with longer legs will be able to fit, too.

The boot is a good size at 375L. The boot is a good size at 375L.

And the boot is a good size - larger than the Mazda CX-3 but not the biggest in the class. Still, it's big enough to fit the bulky CarsGuide pram and it will happily house groceries and school bags in its 375L.

How easy is it to use every day?

The storage is handy with two cupholders up the front, two small shelves to pop a wallet and phone, a sizeable centre storage bin and bottle holders in each door.

Rear passengers miss out on cupholders and air vents, but they do get a pocket on the back of the front seats.

It's a good height off the ground for kids to climb in and also a good height to do up children's seat belts.

It has a manual park brake which I sometimes prefer but it was a bit tricky to tell which gear you were in and I had to keep checking.

How safe is it?

The Vitara Turbo comes with all the advanced safety (something you won't get on the model below this one), so auto emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and lane departure alerts are all standard.

It has seven airbags including side curtain airbags that extend to the second row. It has two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fix kids car seats in and it scored a full five ANCAP stars in July 2016.

What's the tech like?

The tech is good with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make everyone happy. Plug your phone in for instant access to your main apps on the multimedia screen - use maps to navigate and your streaming app to listen to music.

You can plug your phone in for instant access to your main apps on the multimedia screen. You can plug your phone in for instant access to your main apps on the multimedia screen.

The sound in here is also better than expected, I turned it up a few times this week without distortion.

How much is it to own?


The Wrap

By the end of a week of testing, I quite liked the Suzuki Vitara Turbo. It's not as polished looking as a Mazda CX-3 but it's really spacious on the inside, looks super fun on the outside and has good technology and safety.

For an SUV in this price bracket, it's practical and good value. I gave it a family rating of 7.3 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they liked that it carried their precious new puppy back home safely.

Likes

Exterior design
Spacious interior
Boot space

Dislikes

No AWD
Not fast
Servicing every six months

Scores

Nedahl:

3.7

The Kids:

3.7

$29,990

Based on new car retail price