How does SUVs differ from sedans?


as most of thier engines are the same, how can be they different and is the suspention different?


In my opinion, the term suv is over used as cars are now built on a continuum from smallest to largest. But in general…There are truck and car based suv’s. The difference between them is “blurring” each year. Because they have greater interior volume and can carry more they may have stiffer suspensions, bigger motors and greater wind resistance. If they do have lower powered motors, their gearing will be different to accommodate the greater loads they are designed to handle. Generally, truck owners may see them more distinctly between truck based and raised wagons of the past. Whether they have a frame or not, is less important than how they are engineered to perform their more demanding tasks. They may or may not, have all or 4 wd, though often, it is an advantage because of their “job description”. All of this, results in poorer gas Mileage as a group, than the average sedan.


Depends on the sedan and SUV you’re comparing.

SUV’s of the type and size I buy are a body on frame construction. ALL NEW Sedans are unibody. But then you get into SUV’s like the highlander which shares the same platform as the Camry. As dagosa said…the term SUV is open to interpretation.


I agree, it would be better to ask "since the new Explorer is based on what is more closely realated to a unibody structure found on a sedan of today, what else is different, or what else is the same?

My main point is to specify what two vehicles you are comparing (I could not come up with what “sedan” to compare the Explorer with as I do not follow “sedan” type vehicles very much. Myself, I am a pickup truck man.


Up to recently an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) was a modified mid-size or full-size pickup truck. Instead of a cargo bed in the back, the whole body was enclosed and housed a second and sometimes a third row of seats. Features common to the SUV were 4WD or AWD, greater ground clearance, and large enough engines to carry and tow heavy loads. Motors, transmissions, drive trains, and suspension components were largely shared with the pickup trucks the SUV derived from.

Since pick up trucks were built for strength this meant a full frame onto which the body of the SUV was bolted. This sturdy construction method is also heavy. Trucks have boxy shapes and poor aerodynamics and therefore the SUV did too. This means SUV’s get lousy gas mileage in general. Being based on a truck made SUVs differ from cars in safety and fuel efficency standards which applied to automobiles. The requirements for trucks are more lenient and gave the car manufacturers the opportunity to avoid the more difficult standards that applied to passenger cars.

All this worked fine as long as gas was relatively cheap. A new crop of SUV’s is starting to show up now. They are designed now to get better fuel efficency. This means lighter weight, and the full frame is being replaced with unibody construction which has been the norm for cars for two decades. The engines will be smaller, less powerful, and more fuel efficent. The new crop of SUV’s will still be boxy, have higher ground clearance, and AWD or 4WD. But they won’t be as big overall, and won’t carry as much cargo and the towing capacities are reduced.

The big truck based SUV will be around for awhile for those who need BIG, say for towing a large boat or camper trailer. The new crop of more fuel efficent SUV’s will fit into the smaller and mid-size SUV for now.

Is the new crop of SUV much different from a car? Not really. These new SUVs are derived from cars, not trucks. Therefore they will share more parts with the cars upon which they are based. Basically the “Crossover” vehicle is a taller station wagon, and the new SUV is a taller yet crossover. The distinctions are getting less clear.

Figure out the features you want and need and find a car, crossover, SUV, minivan, or PU truck that meets your needs. Labels are getting less distinctive, and less important.


It’s worth noting, that even though many “suv’s” are car based, their bodies are reinforced with subframes, welded in making them more capable then the cars they come from. Jeeps, older Pathfinders, Ridgelines and many others, have towing and carrying capacities (for what it’s worth in this day of exaggeration ) that exceed many of yesterday’s framed vehicles. The playing field is indeed blurred.


Depending on the vehicles you’re comparing, body design/style and ground clearance are about the only things that differ from an SUV and a sedan.


Car makers love questions like yours. It gives them a chance to categorize their vehicles, giving them more people to reach with their products. Go into a Ford or Toyota show room with a “tree hugger”, I don’t want an SUV attitude, but want all they can provide in service, and they will steer you to a Freestyle or Venza. (now called by some “CUVs”). Even though these vehicles are over kill for many, less efficient and don’t perform as well as many of the compact “SUVs” so called.
Corporate labeling in cars and other products is music to the ears of profit makers as they play to attitudes instead of common sense. We should just be looking at vehicles in terms of features, performance, price, longevity and overall satisfaction and to heck with labels.