The Suzuki XL-7 is a seven-seat medium SUV or midsize SUV, belonging in the J-segment market classification. Isuzu Motors manufactured it from 1998 through 2006 (first generation) and by an Isuzu-General Motors partnership from 2007-2009 (second generation). The first generation was a front-engine rear-wheel or four-wheel drive SUV, while the second-generation crossover SUV was built with a transversely-mounted front-engine front-wheel or all-wheel layout.
In Australia, the XL-7 was available only from 2001 through 2006 and only in four-wheel drive. It was called under several names, including Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 (Europe), Suzuki Grand Escudo XL-7 (Japan and Indonesia), and Grand Chevrolet Vitara XL-7 (Venezuela). In other markets where the second generation was later available, it was marketed as Suzuki XL7 (without the hyphen).
1st Generation: XL-7 (1998-2006)
When it was introduced in America in 1998, the XL-7 performed impressively in the market, selling an average of 10,000 units a year in the first few years. A unique feature in the US-released XL-7 was the availability of 5-speed manual transmission and five-seat options. The low-priced multiple-seater was very competitive and, in fact, earned the Consumers Digest’s Best Buy award for the year 1998.
Unlike other markets, which were offered at least two engine options, the XL-7 arrived in Australia in 2001 with the single 2.7L V6 petrol engine rated at 130 kW and 231 N⋅m, with either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. It was also available only as a 4x4, with a fuel efficiency (combined) of 10L/100km for manual and 10.5L/100km for automatic.
Only a base-spec level was available, which offered the following standard equipment: 16-inch alloy wheels, 4-speaker radio cassette, seven seats, airbags (dual front), anti-locking brake system, dual air conditioning, compact disc player, central locking remote control, cloth trim, electronic brake force distribution, engine immobilizer, power mirrors and windows, power steering, roof racks, and tilt/telescopic steering wheel.
The following year, the powertrain was the same, but a limited edition spec level was offered. It included a leather steering wheel, leather trim instead of cloth, power sunroof, and a rear spoiler.
New updates were introduced, including the replacement of the four-speed auto gearbox with a five-speed version and revision of the shift action of the five-speed manual transmission. These modifications introduced changes in the power output and torque, which were now maxed at 135 kW and 250 N⋅m, respectively. Everything else remained the same from 2003 till 2004.
Another spec level was added in 2005, the XL-7 Trekker, which included a tow bar as an added feature to the base trims. It was available in both manual and automatic versions.
In its last year of distribution in Australia, the XL-7’s offerings reverted to the base and limited edition levels. For the other markets, the XL-7 continued to be produced and distributed by the new partnership of Isuzu Motors and General Motors.
2nd Generation: XL7 (2006-2009)
In the last quarter of 2006, Isuzu entered into a venture with General Motors for the production of the second-generation XL7, which was now stylized without the hyphen. The XL7 was built using the same platform as the Holden Captiva—GM’s Theta platform for small or medium SUVs. It still retained the third-row seating of its predecessor.
The XL7 was powered by a version of GM’s High-Feature engine, 3.6 L N36A DOHC V6, which was mated to either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. It initially sold well. In 2009, however, its production had to be shelved due to low demand.