Hidden Treasure: 1999 Suzuki Vitara JX 4WD with four doors

Suzuki’s Second-Generation Vitara: A Look Back


In the mid-1990s, Toyota and Honda were dominating the American compact crossover market with the RAV4 and CR-V. Meanwhile, Suzuki’s first-generation Escudo/Vitara had become outdated and needed a refresh to compete. The second-generation Vitara was introduced in 1999 in the United States, featuring new updates and improvements. Let’s take a closer look at this unique piece of Suzuki automotive history.


1. A History of Suzuki’s Presence in the American Market
Suzuki’s foray into the American market started with the first-generation Cultus in 1985, sold by GM as the Chevrolet Sprint. The Suzuki Jimny (Samurai) followed in 1986, paving the way for more Suzuki-badged models in the 1990s. Despite becoming more Daewoo-ized in the 2000s, Suzuki maintained its presence in the US market until its bankruptcy in 2013.

2. The Evolution of Vitara Models in the United States
The Vitara was first introduced to American consumers in 1999, featuring both regular and Grand Vitara versions. The regular Vitara was available until 2003, while the Grand Vitara, equipped with V6 power, was sold until Suzuki’s bankruptcy. Despite not being a collectible, the Vitara remains an interesting part of Suzuki’s automotive history.

3. Focusing on the Second-Generation Vitara’s Features
The 1999 Suzuki Vitara JX+ showcased a top-trim level with four-wheel drive, priced competitively at $17,999. The 2.0-liter engine offered 127 horsepower and 134 pound-feet of torque, providing decent power for its class. Unlike its competitors, the Vitara had a truck-style frame and true four-wheel drive, offering a unique driving experience.

4. A Comparison with Competing Models
In comparison to the 1999 Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Suzuki Vitara offered competitive pricing and features. With a lower base price and similar equipment, the Vitara provided a viable option for buyers looking for a compact crossover in the late 1990s. Despite not being as popular as its rivals, the Vitara offered a distinct driving experience for enthusiasts.

5. The Legacy of Suzuki in the American Automotive Market
Although Suzuki’s presence in the American automotive market ended in 2013, its legacy lives on through its motorcycles and ATVs. The brand’s unique offerings and innovative designs have left a lasting impact on the industry, showcasing Suzuki’s commitment to producing quality vehicles for consumers worldwide. While the Vitara may not be a collectible, it remains an important part of Suzuki’s history and legacy in the United States.


The second-generation Vitara represents Suzuki’s efforts to compete in the American compact crossover market in the late 1990s. Despite facing tough competition from Toyota and Honda, Suzuki managed to carve out a niche for itself with the Vitara’s unique features and competitive pricing. While the Vitara may not be a collectible, it remains an interesting piece of Suzuki automotive history, showcasing the brand’s commitment to innovation and quality.

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