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The Suzuki Escudo (known as Sidekick in North America and Vitara in Europe, the Philippines and Australia, as well as North America after 1999) was a small off-road vehicle produced from 1989-2004. The North American version was produced as a joint venture between Suzuki and General Motors known as CAMI. The vehicle was a follow-up to the popular SJ413 and Samurai. Also, this vehicle, while sold in North America, was designed to slot above the Samurai. A larger version is also made, known as the Suzuki Grand Escudo (known as Grand Vitara XL-7 in other markets).
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The Sidekick was sold in various badges such as the Geo Tracker (Chevrolet Tracker after 1998) in the United States, and as the GMC Tracker, Chevrolet Tracker, Asüna Sunrunner and Pontiac Sunrunner in Canada. It was also sold as the Santana 300 and 350 in Spain. In the Japanese home market, it was variously sold also with Mazda badge. The 1st Generation Escudo was sold in Mexico as the Chevrolet Vitara. The 2nd Generation is currently sold in Mexico as the Chevrolet Tracker, as the Chevrolet Grand Vitara in other Central and South American countries, while in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile is sold as the Suzuki Grand Vitara.
The original 1989 North American Sidekick was available as a 2-door convertible or hardtop, in 1.3 liter JA and more powerful 4-wheel-drive JX & JLX trims. An 80hp (60kW) 1.6 liter, 8-valve, 4-cylinder engine was available on the JX & JLX. 1990 brought the deletion of the upscale JLX version. In 1991, a 4-door Sidekick with a lengthened wheelbase was introduced and the following year a 95hp (71kW), 1.6 liter, 16-valve engine was introduced. 1991 also brought the introduction of rear antilock brakes. The original Sidekick was updated in 1996 with a new Sport version available with 120hp (89kW), 1.8 liter 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. The Sport also had dual airbags, 2-tone paint and 16" Alloy wheels.
In 1996, Suzuki introduced the Suzuki X-90 which was mechanically identical to the Sidekick but had a much rounder body, a trunk, and removable T-bar roof. The Suzuki X-90 disappeared from Suzuki's lineup after the 1998 model year. The Sport variant was replaced by the Grand Vitara in 1999.
In Spain, production went on at Suzuki's partner Santana with the Vitara nameplate. After a facelift in 2005 the name was changed to Santana 300/ 350.
In Australia, there were two models available. The Vitara JX and the Vitara JLX. The JLX featured mainly with powered windows. Both versions featured the 1.6 Litre engine. In May 1997, Suzuki introduced the 1995 cc 2.0 Litre 4 Valves/ Cylinder Double Overhead Cam engine with both soft top and hardtop 3 door models. This engine was rated at 97kW (130hp) @ 6300 rpm. At the same time the 5 door models received the 1998 cc 2.0 litre V6. Engine power rated for the 5 door V6 models was at 100kW (134hp) @ 6500 rpm. The 1.6 litre variant for the 3 door models were named the Suzuki Vitara Rebel. All models in Australia were sold as four wheel drives.
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