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Should I Buy an SUV?

Author: Brian England 2 February 2012 No Comment

In today’s climate of “thinking green” and the rising cost of gasoline, we usually review smaller vehicles that are more environmentally friendly while also helping our pocketbooks.

However, there is still a market for Sport-Utility Vehicles (SUVs). SUVs are generally classified into three groups: compact, midsize and full-size. You will also often hear the term “crossover” used, but this is really just a marketing term to describe a utility vehicle based on a car chassis rather than one based on a truck chassis.

A crossover will generally give you better handing, better fuel economy, and a quieter ride.  A truck-based SUV is sturdier—but heavier—can tow more weight, and provide better off-road capabilities.

As SUV sizes increase, so does engine power, towing ability, passenger room, and price. There are base models and luxury models in each of the groups. And, you can also find some hybrid SUVs that will give you better mileage. A full-size (non-hybrid) SUV will only give you 12–20 mpg maximum!

SAFETY

Keep in mind that SUVs are often both large and heavy, so they are not as agile or maneuverable as a car. Check crash-test scores, but you need to know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently introduced more strenuous testing procedures, so the ratings of recently tested models are not directly comparable with previous models. To check all vehicle safety ratings, visit www.safecar.gov.

MODELS

SUV sales have shrunk over the past few years and some models/makes have disappeared completely, i.e. Hummer. But, there is still a good selection to choose from, and because larger size SUV sales are slow, you might even be able to get a good deal. But, before you run out and buy an SUV or Crossover, make sure it is the only vehicle that will meet your needs—another vehicle type could save you money both in purchase and in gas and maintenance costs!

If after looking at all the options, you do decide that an SUV is the vehicle for you, then the next question is, “Which one?”

There are many different makes and models of SUV, and they all have their own individual positives and negatives.. Do you need a full-size SUV or a small SUV?  And like buying any vehicle, you need to make a list of priorities before shopping. For example, if you are going to need the SUV for towing, you need to make sure it is capable of handing the weight you need to tow.

When you are buying an SUV, miles per gallon can become a major buying feature. To check out SUV mpg ratings visit www.fueleconomy.gov.

In summary, here are seven positives and seven negatives about SUVs.

POSITIVES

1. Higher driving position gives a better view of the road.

2. The seating is normally better; you sit more upright like you do in a dining chair.

3. Most SUVs are 4-wheel drive, which means you could be more mobile in bad weather or if you have to drive on unpaved roads.

4. Some of the larger vehicles make a statement about the driver and if you want to stand out when you are on the road this may be a positive for you.

5. They offer more protection than a smaller car in an accident.

6. If you need to tow a boat or trailer, an SUV gives you more power and suitability than a smaller vehicle.

7. It is easier to load things in the back of the vehicle; there is more practical space than a trunk; and it will carry larger and heavier loads.

NEGATIVES

1. Costs more to buy.

2. Costs more to run— you get fewer miles per gallon.

3. Costs more to maintain—tires and brakes are more expensive.

4. More things to go wrong on 4WD vehicles; they have a more complicated transmission and an extra axle.

5. Larger SUVs are more difficult to park and in general not as practical for use in town or in the city.

6. It can be a waste having 4WD when you may only use it a few times a year.

7. Higher vehicles like an SUV have a higher center of gravity so in emergency driving situations they do not handle as well and are more susceptible to rollover when compared to a car, which has a lower center of gravity.

Whatever your decision, SUV, Crossover, Sedan, or Sports car, remember regular maintenance will help to keep you safe on the road and will save you money!

Additional posts by Brian England