Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) continue to gain popularity in the UK and across the world, with more people opting for the versatility and practicality of larger vehicles over smaller hatchbacks. SUVs, often categorised with 4×4 vehicles and crossovers, are cars that combine strong road driving abilities with off-road capabilities and features. They usually offer ample passenger space, comfort and boot capacity meaning they are very useful for a number of applications. But how does the driving experience of an SUV compare to other road cars? Read on to find out more.
First of all, SUVs are usually markedly larger and heavier than your typical hatchback or supermini. This has implications for steering, braking and fuel economy. A heavier vehicle may take longer to come to a stop when braking and will take longer to react when steering due to increased inertia. As such, the handling of an SUV can be slightly more arduous and heavy.
One factor that many SUV drivers admire is the driving position that you get in such vehicles. Unlike smaller hatchbacks, SUVs offer the driver a higher seating position which provides a better view of the road and other road users. This can help to create a greater sense of authority and control on the road, but don’t let it get to your head!
4WD and AWD
SUVs commonly come with either 4-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), which give superior drive and traction in tricky driving conditions. 4WD (or 4×4) offers the driver off-roading abilities and greater control in rough driving conditions like rocky or loose surfaces. 4×4 tyres are useful in supporting the 4WD system to give greater stability and grip. On the other hand, AWD systems are superior in driving conditions like snow and ice but are common across a number of car types. You can go for either option based on the sort of driving you plan to do.
The high seating position and space inside most SUVs mean that they offer a comfortable ride for both driver and passengers. This is a big attraction for drivers who perhaps want to upgrade from a smaller hatchback or compact car. Quality suspension systems and tyres usually also offer a smooth ride which is important on poor quality road surfaces.
SUVs are synonymous with performance, and this is a big selling point alongside comfort and versatility. Whilst you might not get the same acceleration and performance of some lighter road cars, SUVs offer the combination of power, speed and practicality – making them a great option if you want a taste of excitement but still need those fundamental capabilities.