Pros and cons of SUVs


#1

Although I’ve briefly driven several SUVs for work, I and my family have only ever owned four door sedans. I’m doing some leisurely car shopping and, at the suggestion of a friend, expanded my thinking to include small SUVs like RAV4, CRV, etc.

For those of you familiar with using an SUV as a regular daily vehicle, can you tell me any pros and cons to using an SUV versus a sedan as a daily driver? I’m particularly asking for feedback about aspects of an SUV that aren’t necessarily apparent even with extended, repeated, lengthy test driving.

Marnet
…still reading, still learning


#2

Car based SUVs take no getting use to, are excellent choices if size and or seating comfort is a requirement. I have had them for over 25 years and drive one daily. Yet, if I did not have a need for clearance and 4wd, I would have a low slung, good handling road rocket. SUVs in general are not as “fun” to drive though most people who drive them like the idea of being up high. If you really insist (and my shorter wife does), compact CRVs, RAVs and Foresters and the like are excellent choices. Like I said, they wouldn’t be my first choice unless I really needed it. !


#3

I recently got a 1990 jeep Cherokee, my first 4wd. I have to say that I love it. we had a lot of snow this year and though I ve always managed before with either my old f-100 or with the assortment of mercury cougars, my better half has driven, the jeep was soooo much better in the snow, I also like the fact that I can just drive over stuff and thru stufftoo. no need to go around the block, just drive thru the ditch or over the curb if your way is blocked.


#4

An SUV might have more ground clearance, which is helpful if you drive on unplowed snowy roads.

On a rainy day, with an SUV, it’s nice to be able to stand under the hatch without an umbrella while loading groceries into the car. Also, if you ever have a tailgate party in the rain, you can probably sit under the open hatch.

If the SUV has a roof rack, that gives you the ability to carry various large items.

From what I’ve read here, small SUVs seem to be the ideal height so that elderly folks and people with bad backs can get in and out easily.


#5

‘‘A place for your stuff’’

George Carlin


#6

yes! the height of the seat is soooo important to my back. the old F100 is perfect


#7

@‌ken green
My favorite.


#8

Cargo: the trunk of a sedan is easier to open, but won’t hold as much stuff so an SUV is better if you carry large items often. Ride: a sedan has a much nicer ride and handles much better. Emergency handling: an SUV is more difficult to control at high speeds to avoid accidents. Costs to maintain: the tires and brakes on an SUV will wear out about 2X faster than a sedan and the replacements are more expensive. Tires for some SUV’s are much more expensive and typically last less miles. 30K miles from most SUV tires is pretty good, and 50K is what I’d expect from most tires on a sedan. Fuel: you will spend more on gas for an SUV.

If you need AWD or 4WD, carry a lot of bulky cargo, or tow something then SUV is the winner. For comfort, saving money, and less costly to buy the sedan is the winner. Buying an SUV when you really don’t need an SUV is just spending more money for less comfort getting from point A to point B.


#9

I doubt that we will ever go back to a conventional sedan. Back in 2003, my wife wanted to purchase a new vehicle and we tested SUVs. Her preference was the Toyota 4Runner. We really like the vehicle and like making road trips. We found it much more comfortable than the 1993 Oldsmobile 88 that it replaced. The seats are much more supportive in the 4Runner and we like sitting up rather than sitting flat with our legs stretched out. We also have a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan that I need to transport my fellow musicians and their instruments.
The only other SUVs that I have driven any distance are the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Chevrolet Traverse. The university where I taught for 44 years had a couple of Ford Escape hybrids in its fleet and I drove it on a 300 mile round trip to a conference. I am 6’ 2" tall and have long legs and found it quite comfortable. My research partner is about 5’3" tall and also found the Ford Escape had a good driving position for her as well and was quite comfortable driving it. My wife and I rented a Chevrolet Traverse on a vacation trip we made to California and thought it was great. We stacked up about 1000 miles on the Traverse.
I would recommend that if you find an SUV that you like, rent one for a week-end trip and see what you think. I would guess that you probably will not want to go back to a 4 door sedan.


#10

Think of it this way…
When you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, would you rather try to load (& cram) your bulky/heavy merchandise in the trunk of a sedan or slide it into the cargo area of an SUV or Crossover? Years ago, I can recall getting a backache from lifting bags of mulch, soil, or sand out of the trunk of sedans. With an SUV or Crossover–much more ease.

Or, as I like to put it, an SUV can do everything that a sedan can do–and more.
A sedan is limited in its usefulness in comparison to an SUV.

Years ago, it might have been necessary to tolerate a rough & noisy ride from an SUV, but nowadays most of them are smooth-riding and quiet. The elevated seats provide both better seating access and seating comfort for older folks–like you and me. And, the elevated seats give you a…commanding…view of the road ahead, which is a safety advantage.


#11

The Jeep Cherokee seemed to hit the mark in many ways. when introduced, station wagons had become gaudy behemoths and the Cherokee offered all that a station wagon would be useful for in a practical package. Plus the Cherokee was reliable and relatively economical to operate. There are a great many of them still slugging it out on local roads that are 20 years old.


#12
Tires for some SUV's are much more expensive and typically last less miles. 30K miles from most SUV tires is pretty good, and 50K is what I'd expect from most tires on a sedan.

Tires for my 4runner run about $150 (Cooper AT3s).

The low-profile tires for my Wife’s Lexus ES-350…start at $160 and go up from there. Current tires are Michelin’s at $220 (EACH).

The Lexus tires - we’ve been averaging about 40k miles. My 4runner - 50k+.

When you go to Lowe's or Home Depot, would you rather try to load (& cram) your bulky/heavy merchandise in the trunk of a sedan or slide it into the cargo area of an SUV or Crossover?

I can’t tell you how many times we went to Home Depot for some small thing driving my wifes Lexus or one of her Accords…and buying something that we ended up cramming into the back with the seats down and the pass-through to the trunk open. We stopped going to Home Depot with wifes car…Always go there with my SUV.


#13

“Tires for some SUV’s are much more expensive and typically last less miles. 30K miles from most SUV tires is pretty good, and 50K is what I’d expect from most tires on a sedan. Fuel: you will spend more on gas for an SUV.”

A set of Michelin Defenders for my 2011 Outback cost $760, including a road hazard warranty, lifetime rotation & balancing, and lifetime flat repair. That works out to ~$190 per tire, which is pretty much what I would expect to pay for high-quality 17" tires for a sedan nowadays if you included those “extras”. The Defenders have a 90k tread wear warranty, and–based on the truly minimal wear so far–I wouldn’t be surprised if they went the distance.

As to gas mileage, I get a consistent 24 mpg in local driving during the warm months, and 22-23 mpg in local driving during the winter. On long highway trips I have been able to eke out 29 mpg, and I think that these mileage figures are…not too shabby…for a roomy, less-than-aerodynamic vehicle with 256 HP.


#14

An SUV can fool you into driving too fast for slippery conditions. It’s bad on a slushy highway when you get up to the 45 MPH limit and feel like “this is too easy”. Then a driver will want to go faster, like 65, the usual speed limit when roads are dry and the 45 signs aren’t lit. Then when the rear tires slip, the top-heavy SUV will be difficult to control.

The only vehicles that can go faster under those conditions is a pickup truck with a long wheelbase and light load. Those things come back into line easily.

If we drive at a sensible speed the all-wheel drive SUVs are really well behaved.

What about stability control? I haven’t found out and hope to never know.


#15
An SUV can fool you into driving too fast for slippery conditions.

I’ve seen many people with SUV’s or just an AWD vehicle drive too fast for slippery conditions. And those people should NOT be driving…PERIOD. Just because you have an 4wd/awd vehicle does NOT mean you can stop any better.

The only vehicles that can go faster under those conditions is a pickup truck with a long wheelbase and light load. Those things come back into line easily.

I’ll take a mid-size SUV over a pickup truck (short or long wheelbase) any day of the week in slippery conditions.


#16

Modern car-based SUVs are no harder to drive safely than cars. They are great for bulky items, visibility, and passenger room. We love ours.


#17

One reason I don’t like SUVs is that it is too easy to over-steer (or over-correct) and roll them over if you try to make emergency maneuvers at highway speeds. Large sedans can be over-steered at highway speeds too, but it’s more difficult to roll them over and it’s easier to regain control. Better yet, with small cars like my Honda Civic, it’s next to impossible to over-steer them at highway speeds. Small cars are very forgiving of driving mistakes young inexperienced drivers make.

SUVs have many advantages if you drive off-road, in bad weather (snow), or you have mobility issues that make it difficult to get into and out of a car, but far too many people buy them for the wrong reasons.

I’ve seen several people roll SUVs (mostly Jeeps and Fords) because of completely unforced errors. Had they been driving small or midsize cars, they could have learned their lessons without totaling their vehicles.


#18

Cars handle better than SUVs. They have a lower center of gravity and on average weigh less. Cars also get better gas mileage because they weigh less. If having a lot of storage space trumps all that, then get an SUV. I think you should take a serious look at the new Impala. Consumer Reports thinks that it is the best large sedan available.


#19

“An SUV can fool you into driving too fast for slippery conditions”

Only if the driver is a fool…
;-))

Each winter, I marvel at the number of people who drive far too fast for road conditions, and who zoom past me in their Jeeps, Explorers, Blazers, etc. only to wind up in a ditch a few miles down the road. I motor safely past those wrecks in my Outback, while maintaining a safe speed and an excellent driving record.

If these folks had ever bothered to take a Defensive Driving course, they would know more about things like…safe following distances on slippery surfaces, coefficients of friction, etc. Instead, they seem to think that they are invincible and are immune to the laws of physics.

Let’s not lose sight of the reality that foolish, reckless drivers are to blame, not the vehicles.


#20

Many want a SUV for winter driving when a Subaru Impreza or Outback would do the same thing possibly even better. Depending on what sedan and what suv you compare you might loose a little mpg with the suv but not as much as you might think. Tire costs can vary between different vehciles. The Original spec tires for my Dad’s CRV could be found for around $99ea but started to wear out at 35k so he spent a little more at Costco for ones that should last much longer.

Comparing the family '07 CRV with the '10 Prius I’ve noticed that the interior room is mostly similar with the CRV having more headroom and cargo space but the Prius on average gets 2x the mpg.

My Brother’s family drives from Bellingham to Spokane on a fairly regular basis (over snoqualmie pass) and in the Subaru Legacy Wagon with snow tires they make it every time without drama where others spin out and get into trouble. It’s how you drive not just what you drive