Sport utility vehicle (SUV) have become the most sought after inventory item for many auto manufacturers.
It’s no surprise that these multi-purpose vehicles are so well known because there is so much you can do with them.
According to a source, 9 out of the top 20 vehicles bought last two years were SUVs or SUV crossovers.
This article aims to get acquainted with what an SUV is, including each type’s ins and outs.
Table of Contents
- What it means
- SUV history
- The extent of its popularity
- Pros of SUVs
- Cons of SUVs
- Sizes of SUVs
- SUV Evolution
What it means
An alternative term in the United States for the well-known family car is the “sport-ute.” SUV is a generic name that conventionally covers a wide range of cars with a four-wheel drive that can be taken off the road and have the feel of a lighter truck.
The term “SUV” applies to bigger cars, such as the Range Rover, Chevrolet Suburban, and Jeep-like SUVs. It also applies to lesser-sized vehicles that do not have four-wheel drive and can barely go off-road like the Honda CRV and crossover SUVs.
Sport-utility is beyond just a technical term for the SUV. An alternative meaning is that the vehicle can get things done and has an outdoor quality such as scaling various terrains.
In the United States and a host of other countries, the SUV has been categorized as a light truck instead of a car. This provides the SUV with a more relaxed fuel efficiency standard.
In terms of how the SUV appears and feels, it pulls off a combined look of a truck, minivan, and the average American family car. SUVs were initially manufactured on a truck chassis before changing to a unibody frame where the chassis, body, and floors were on one structure.
The majority of the modern SUVs are equipped with four to five doors to accommodate families, while initial models only had two doors.
The initial make of the four-wheel-drive passenger car that was manufactured in mass with a unibody frame was the 1955 Gaz-M20. As far back as 1977, the Lada Niva, a somewhat compact SUV-type car, had a coil-sprung independent suspension at the front and a unibody design.
This car was the ancestor of the crossover SUV. Up until the 1984 Jeep Grand Cherokee XJ’s successful sales, unibody-framed SUVs were an unusual sight. One thing that remained unchanged was that the 2-door SUVs had never been as sought after by consumers.
This could be because of the apparent reason that they weren’t as convenient.
The extent of its popularity
SUVs were responsible for 36.8% of the global passenger car market in 2017. SUV sales further appreciated by a margin of 2.6% in 2019. More than a million of those sales were traced to new SUVs or light pickup trucks.
However, car sales depreciated by a margin of 1.3% in 2019 and by 5.8% in December of that same year.
Pros of SUVs
SUVs have a combination of the storage capacity and hauling of pickup trucks with a station wagon’s comfort. The combination is also made up of big inside spaces and two or three rows of seating. SUVs provide its owner with versatility in moving people and cargo.
With the amount of space in an SUV, owners can fetch groceries and haul luggage for road journeys. They can also haul sports equipment and still have sufficient seating space for many passengers as an SUV frequently has up to seven seats.
SUVs may not have the best fuel economy, but they were designed for the original purpose of enabling vehicles to move over rugged grounds without any scrape to its underpart. This design provides them with a high center of gravity and seating arrangements.
They also have a powerful engine and towing functions. These days, SUVs are categorized into two types. One category is meant for carrying or transporting heavy loads or moving off-road, and a good example is the Toyota 4Runner.
The other category is renowned for its appealing looks and safe handling. Both types of SUVs can handle slippery road conditions and shallow water bodies, such as the Ford Flex.
Cons of SUVs
If you want to consider an SUV as your next car, it is imperative to weigh in the cons. Their build and size make them maneuvering them a tricky task, particularly when locating a parking space.
These expensive cars have also been criticized for their impact on the environment, as they are not as fuel-efficient as the lesser-sized vehicles in the same price range with them.
Sizes of SUVs
There are three sizes of SUVs, and they range from small, mid-size to full-size.
- Small SUVs: The miniature-sized SUV models, such as the Nissan Rogue and the Hyundai Tucson, are less difficult to park and maneuver. Meanwhile, other small SUVs are compact crossovers. The Mazda CX-5 tilts more towards the sporty type with sharper handling and steering.
- Mid-Size SUVs: Some of these mid-sized SUVs are crossovers because they have mutual platforms with other passenger cars. On the other hand, others are based on mid-size and compact pickup trucks.
Some of the most well-known options for mid-size SUVs are the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot. This is primarily because of the all-wheel drive, serene interior, and top-notch storage space.
- Full-size SUVs: Full-size SUVs, such as the 2019 GMC Yukon and the 2020 Cadillac Escalade, are advertised as luxury vehicles or renowned for their off-road capabilities. Full-size SUVs are the biggest size, but some of the models include an extendable body length to provide additional space for both passengers and cargo.
Before and during World War II were the period when the initial SUV prototypes started to emerge. The initial examples were full-sized and equipped with four-wheel drives.
They also had huge interiors and were designed primarily for moving through challenging terrains.
The term SUV was initially adopted in brochures for the full-sized 1974 Jeep Cherokee SJ. The AMC Eagle emerged in coupe, sedan, station wagon styles; it can provide luxury, comfort, and convenience as a passenger vehicle.