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Suzuki Vitara vs Toyota Corolla


A city-sized SUV takes on a staple hatch in the mid-$20 bracket. Joshua Dowling rates an updated pair with plenty in common.

value

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

$25,490

At $25,490 drive-away, it’s one of the best equipped city-sized SUVs for the money. Standard fare includes navigation, rear camera, 17-inch alloys, privacy glass and daytime running lights. Servicing over three years is $1540 but if you stay with Suzuki dealers for each routine service your warranty climbs from three years/100,000km to five years/140,000km.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

$23,990

As Hyundai and others do battle at the super-sharp $20,000 price point, Toyota aims to lure buyers up to $23,990 drive-away for a Corolla auto with some extra fruit. Over the standard model the Ascent Sport comes with 16-inch alloys, fog lights, privacy glass and a leather steering wheel and gear shift lever. Capped price servicing over three years is $840, among the cheapest in the business. Warranty is three years/100,000km.

design

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

Not as rugged-looking as earlier models because Suzuki has embraced the trend to car-like styling. Well designed interior has more cargo and storage space than the Corolla but some of the plastics feel cheap. The doors can feel stiff to open and close. No volume dial on touchscreen. The black roof (pictured) adds $995.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

A minor makeover last year added a sleeker headlight and bumper design and new tail-lights. But the big news is the interior — the more modern dashboard has a large touchscreen display (although, as with the Suzuki, no volume dial). Cabin and cargo space are smaller than in the Suzuki but this model Corolla has a full-size (steel) spare versus the Vitara’s space-saver.

technology

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

Engine

Don’t be put off by the 1.6-litre four-cylinder (86kW/156Nm) as it’s more than enough for city, suburban and highway use. It’s one of the key reasons the Vitara is so fuel-efficient (we averaged 6.0L/100km with a mix of driving and got 10L/100km around town). The five-speed manual is OK but the six-speed auto is the pick.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

Engine

The 1.8-litre four-cylinder (103kW/173Nm) is matched to a CVT with seven presets. It’s spritely enough for most people’s needs and has more oomph than the Suzuki. It uses a little more fuel though (6.7L/100km says the label, expect 11.0L around town) but, as with the Vitara, it takes regular unleaded.

safety

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

Seven airbags (including one for the driver’s knee) and five-star safety rating. Rear-view camera has a clear image — even at night — but guiding lines are fixed, rather than turning with the steering. Two rear Isofix child seat anchor points. No auto headlights but daytime running lights.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

Seven airbags — also including one for the driver’s knee — and five-star safety rating. The rear camera is one of the sharpest and clearest around (Holden, Jeep and Honda, for example, have milky displays and are heavily pixelated at night), although the guiding lines don’t turn with the steering (as with the Suzuki).

driving

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

It’s easier to fit into tight spots than the Corolla. The tall driving position is a big plus for all-round vision. Tyre grip is good, the suspension is supple over bumps and the electric power steering is well weighted in most situations. However, it can feel slightly twitchy in the straight ahead position above 80km/h.

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

The updated Corolla drives better than when this generation arrived in 2012. It shifts smoothly, steers nicely and the brakes have a reassuring bite. It trails the Suzuki in cabin space and lacks its taller view. That may not seem a fair comparison but the reality is buyers are cross-shopping these types of cars.

Verdict

Suzuki Vitara RT-S

Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

Two strong contenders produce a closer contest than we expected. If these vehicles were the same price, the decision would have gone in favour of the Vitara. 

Click here for more Suzuki Vitara price and spec info

Click here for more Toyota Corolla price and spec info