The common feature of all forms of SUV is a higher ground clearance that makes off-roading easier coupled with a rear-wheel/all-wheel-drive system. However, these two features make SUVs suffer from handling and stability at high speeds. That is why automobile manufacturers strive from year to year to make sure that the different sub-categories of SUVs are built to perfectly execute their tasks. Common sub-categories of SUV according to the size and shape are in the list below:
- 1) Compact sized SUV
- 2) Mid-sized SUV
- 3) Full-sized SUV
- 4) Sports activity coupe
- 5) Sports activity vehicle
Higher ground clearance helps off-roading to be easier
Now which SUV suits you the most? Let me explain:
2. The 5 types of SUV – which one should you choose?
2.1. Compact SUV
This type of car is the smallest of all SUVs available in the automobile market. They offer smaller interior space than mid-sized sedans but still, have a higher ground clearance and it’s where it’s off-roading ability comes to okay.
Compact SUVs are not very comfortable especially for adult-sized rear seaters and that’s why they are not suitable for a long-distance journey.
Compact SUVs usually have simple designs and aren’t built for sporting activities at all and most of its engines are always a V6 or less which makes them very economical coupled with their lightweight and also, they have very bad handling that requires a lot of patience at bends.
These SUVs make a good daily to owners that won’t drive them long-distance because they are not easy to maneuver like sedans and also, the limited interior space means that it is cramped and uncomfortable for passengers in a long time of riding.
Families of small kids would find compact cars good choices
Examples of compact SUVs are the Toyota RAV-4, BMW X3 and the Hyundai Creta. Compact SUVs are perfect for small-sized families or people that move goods around on rough terrains.
2.2. Mid-sized SUV
These kinds of SUVs are the most common SUVs around today, they feature a standard sized interior space that is almost bigger than that of a full-sized sedan. Most mid-sized carry a V6/V8 engine and they are not pocket-friendly because of their heavyweight.
Mid-sized SUVs are very unstable at high speeds but there is an exception to German SUVs cars like BMWs and BENZ because they have specially tuned suspension. These SUVs are perfect for people that move a lot of luggage on a daily basis from one point to another, a perfect example is a clothes/shoe retailer.
Mid-sized SUVs that are very common in Nigeria would be the Toyota Highlander, Toyota 4runner, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mercedes-Benz Gle. These SUVs are the perfect balance between comfort and economy. Very ideal for long-distance trips and it gets better if it’s a luxury mid-size SUV you own.
Mid-sized SUVs are good at interior space but fuel consumption might be a bit of a burden
Some mid-sized SUVs have retractable third-row seats that make it possible to carry 7 people at once which makes it a very good buy for large-sized families.
Some mid-sized SUVs come with folded rear-row, which enlarge the cargo space when not used
2.3. Full-sized SUV
A full-size SUV is the dream of every Nigerian family that travels long distances to their villages during festive seasons because it has 3 rows of seats and still enough trunk space for cargo. 90% of them are luxury cars so depending on how luxurious the SUV is, you can get an alternative home seating arrangement.
A full-sized SUV is not a very common thing to see in Nigeria
Examples of full-size SUVs are Cadillac Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban, Benz GL550.
Bigger size means a bigger budget for a full-sized SUV
Full-sized SUVs usually have V8-V12 engines because of their size and they are fuel guzzlers that can’t survive in the hands of an owner that is not ready to buy gas in the car twice daily. Driving Full-sized SUVs requires a very professional approach especially going very slow at bends/turns just to ensure it’s stability. This means you can’t try to get somewhere quickly with a full-size SUV. It is the closest vehicle that gives you the comfort you get from your house.
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2.4. Sports Activity Vehicle
Remember I said SUVs are not meant for sports activities like racing? BMW made the X5 to break this rule by designing it to be able to drive and handle like a sports car, and SAV was the class name given to it.
Video: Drive and Review 2020 BMW X5 on Everyman Driver
SAVs are high performing SUVs for lovers of sports cars with heavily tuned suspensions and drive train meaning they are not economical. They have mid-sized SUV interior space.
A lot of automobile manufacturers now have high performing SUVs with tuned adjustable suspensions that offer different driving modes to owners. Sport activity vehicles don’t have as much ground clearance as the mid-size SUVs because of optimum stability concerns.
2.5. Sports Activity Coupe
These are the SUVs to coupe based SUVs. SACs mostly have a fastback and sporty design with 2/4 doors. The GLE, for example, is an SUV that gets a coupe styling as a stand-alone variant and it is an ideal SAC.
Please, note that there are some SUVs with 2 doors that aren’t SACs. They are just 2 door versions of their respective SUV.
The sleek design of a coupe and power of an SUV to bear the SAC
SACs are not very good off-road because they have stiff suspensions that are adjustable but not dedicated to off-roading. SACs are the closest to the ground amongst all subcategories of SUVs and they are not always very comfortable especially for rear seaters lacking 3rd-row seats also.
So to pick the best SUV for you? Just weigh the pros and cons of all the sub-categories and go for the one your budget can buy.