Thu | Sep 17, 2020

Title: Vitara XL7 built to carry passengers

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2020 | 12:07 AMKareem LaTouche - Automotives Coordinator
The XL7 has a spacious cabin fit for seven people. The seats are clad in fabric that matches the interior theme.
The XL7 has a spacious cabin fit for seven people. The seats are clad in fabric that matches the interior theme.

It has been clear that Suzuki has made some tweaks to its production of automobiles, which sees it producing vehicles that are more domesticated and practical. In the past, the XL7 was an extension of the Grand Vitara, which had an extra set of seats and a large engine.

Now, the XL7 has been trimmed down to have a sleeker look as it is built on the platform of the Vitara. To avoid any confusion, the Vitara is a subcompact SUV, oof of which this vehicle is modeled while the Grand Vitara is a larger SUV.

Suzuki seems to have done a focus group to find out what consumers are looking for the most in a vehicle as the XL7 is all about efficiency and the ability to carry people. First, it seats seven persons with huge leg and head space. Second, it is a 1.5 litre engine that barely uses gas while pushing out a modest 105 horsepower.

The front facia has a very masculine look, with sharp edges at predominant points such as the LED headlamps. In the centre is a horizontal elongated grille with two lines that run into the headlights. There is a black running board that outlines the bottom of the vehicle and helps to highlight the ground clearance of 7.9 inches. Around the back, the glass in the C panel wraps around to the other side and the rear taillights are reminiscent of those used on Volvo’s latest models.

DRIVING

The transmission is a four-speed automatic that is built for efficiency when hauling around a full load of passengers. There is some low-end torque to give it a little ‘umph’, however, this is not an engine that is built for speed. To get the most out of this vehicle, I decided to put it to the test by carrying my nieces and their friends to the beach in St Mary. To my surprise, the two seats in the third row were prime real estate as everyone wanted them. The second row of seats has the most space, especially where legroom is concerned. It is in an elevated position, which puts less pressure of the hips when sitting, and it has the largest passenger windows. There is also a dedicated A/C strip that runs along the roof, and it has a knob to control the wind speed. Additionally, there is a charging port for rear-seat passengers and speakers in each door. The only thing missing are USB ports, and for this reason, I had to bring a converter for the kids to keep their cell phones charged.

A standout feature for me is how efficient the A/C is as it gets the vehicle very cold easily. It reminds me of the Suzuki Cross I tested a year ago. There are also A/C vents in the two cupholders in the centre console, which is ideal when carrying beverages in non-insulated containers. For the rear-seat passengers, there is a horizontal roof-mounted A/C vent that is about two feet long, with a knob to control the temperature and fan speed.

All-round visibility is great as the windows are huge, especially for the second row and the rear. This allows adequate light inside, which also helps the vehicle to not feel cluttered. The fabric seats are cool and breathable, the headrest feels soft.

Suzuki has been using high-tensile steel for quite some time now because it is light and extremely durable. When empty, the vehicle feels lighter than it looks, especially through the steering, which is quite easy to manoeuvre. There are MacPherson struts and a torsion beam —both with coil springs — up front and at the rear, respectively. This set-up gives it a very balanced and comfortable ride.

Year model: 2020

Engine size: 1.5L

Hp: 103HP

Transmission: four-speed automatic transmission, FWD

Body Type: Subcompact SUV

Competition: Toyota Rush

Suzuki Vitara XL7 GLX - $4,690,000.00

Available at: Stewart’s Auto Sales Ltd, 49-53 South Camp Road. Tel (876) 968-0930,

(876) 968-0931, www.suzukijamaica.com