SUV Crazy: But Wait, What’s an SUV?

February 26, 2018

You see them everywhere. You may even have one or a couple of them parked in your garage. And you may already have a sense of overload from seeing too many of them just about everywhere you turn.

We refer to the omnipresent Sport Utility Vehicle, which has taken the world by storm. From a sales figure of just around 5 million units in 2000, the world has purchased some 20 million of these vehicles as of 2015. And studies show that it will grow to as much as 42 million by 2031.

Despite their popularity, many people are still clueless to what an SUV really is? And with so many of them out on the road, coming in different sizes, how can you tell one classification from the other?

While there is really no clear definition of what the term stands for, Sport Utility Vehicles have come to represent a type of vehicle that combines the configuration of a station wagon with the capabilities of an off-road vehicle. The raised ground clearance, available all-wheel-drive, and sometimes tougher underpinnings all hint at all-terrain and rugged driving capabilities.

Yet SUVs aren’t as rough and tough as their off-road vehicle counterparts—at least not when it comes to creature comforts. These utes, as they are usually called nowadays, often have the space and versatility of minivan and the driving dynamics of a raised sedan.  And let’s face it, most of them hardly see a gravel path, much less the great outdoors.

Traditionally, SUVs were based on more rugged platforms like pick-ups. Models like the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Ford Everest, and Nissan’s soon-to-be-released Terra all ride on a ladder-on-frame chassis that is shared with pick-ups like the Hilux, Strada, Ranger, and Navara, respectively.

Market demand, however, has dictated a new SUV segment that is based on a car. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester, among others, are all based on a sedan platform (also known as crossovers). This makes them lighter and more nimble. Yet the increased ride height and available all-wheel drive still make them truly capable all-weather vehicles that can take some light off-road duty.

As for the aforementioned different sizes, you’ve got full-size, midsize, compact, and now subcompact.  As dizzying as it sounds, each one is simply meant to cater to a certain market segment. Families, singles, couples, and empty nesters. The world has truly gone crazy over the commanding driving postion and that seeming sense of go-anywhere freedom that such vehicles connote.

And at the rate the industry is going, it looks like the future will be filled wth SUVs of all shapes, sizes, and segments.

About the Author

Mr. Gerard Jude Castillo
Gerard has been a self-confessed car nut ever since he was a little boy. As a grown-up, he indulges in his passion by collecting toy cars (which he started since childhood) and reading up on the latest cars out there.  As Associate Editor, he will ensure that you get your fill of the latest cars in the market, as well as a load of automotive features.