I originally got this car for it's 4x4 capabilities off road. Sure there were others that boasted better specs for that role in particular, but very few had the same fuel consumption. I drive usually with both rows of back seats down and it is usually packed to the brim and on average I usually make about 600 km on a tank.
Recently we took it for a run on Fraser, bearing in mind that my XL has not been raised, with a Pajero as a partner car and it performed admirably. Sure I had to tend to avoid more of the ditches and holes that the Pajero just plowed through because of it's greater clearance, but not once did the car struggle.
When we got off the barge on the way back we got stuck for the first time, the Pajero that is, and that was the only time we were stuck at all. I believe the reason why the XL didn't get stuck was simply because it is lighter than the Pajero, something that can cause others to dislike the XL.
The gearbox in the XL has given me grief at a time as there were a few too many to choose from that all apparently fit it, and I would have been happier with some more vertical space for packing once the seats were down, but other than that I have next to no complaints.
With it's 2x4, 4x4 high, and 4x4 low range, I have only ever gotten stuck with it once since I bought it.
I would prefer the diesel as it has a better fuel economy, but everything considered it is a great car.
The sad part is that the XL is a dying breed, since the new Grand Vitara models all come as a 4 cylinder and not in the V6. The newer models tend to prioritize urban utility over the original design of the 4x4 off road Vitara.