Buying a new SUV? Some factors to consider

Whether it’s for leisure, comfort or style, there’s no denying that the SUV (sport utility vehicle) has become the go-to choice for both busy parents and successful professionals alike. With space, security and power, these vehicles, which blend the very best of performance and aesthetic, are an increasingly popular purchase.

With so many new SUV options on the market[1], however, actually deciding on a preferred make and model can seem a little daunting.

While some elements are commonplace throughout most SUVs, such as an elevated height and vantage point as well as extra storage space.

There are several factors which must be examined from the offset when choosing the right SUV to fit your needs. These include aspects such as fuel format (Electric Vehicle (EV), Hybrid, Petrol, or Diesel), as well as how that choice will relate to fuel consumption (MPG) and battery life.

The Top Five Questions Every Potential SUV buyer needs to ask themselves

  1. How many passengers do you intend to have?
  2. How much space will you need?
  3. Will you be driving off road or on?
  4. How much mileage will you be doing and what’s your fuel budget?
  5. What’s your overall purchasing budget?

By answering these examples honestly, it may become easier to make an informed and worthwhile decision.

Reliability of both brand and model, servicing options, safety, size (storage / parking) and overall reputation will also be an essential part of the selection process. There are plenty of guides[2] out there, but we wanted to condense the main points into a useful article for your reference.

Crossover SUVs (CUVs)

It’s worth noting that some smaller SUVs are essentially crossovers (CUVs) which means, according to The Journal[3], that there is a difference in the use of vehicle platform.

Most CUVs are built on unibody car platforms. This means they are usually built on the same platform as cars. For example, the SEAT Ateca uses the same platform and shares the same wheelbase as the SEAT Leon hatchback.

The more rugged SUV is built on body-on-frame truck platforms. This means the body is built separately from the frame and placed together later. Body-on-frame SUVs are much more popular in the US than here in Europe.”

Popular crossover models include the Honda CRV, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Equinox. Many users tend to prefer CUVs as they are usually more comfortable and offer better handling than the truck-based models.

Cost: Compact SUVs can be found in the low 20s and many exceed €30,000 as more extras, such as entertainment and advanced security systems, are added. Luxury models can go up to around €50,000.

SUV jargon

As with everything car-related, there’s a little bit of jargon (via Motortrend[4]) that’s worth learning. Terms such as this may appear in SUV consumer reports[5] and so here’s a helpful reference guide to the key words associated with SUVs.

  • 5M: 5-speed manual
  • 6A: 6-speed automatic
  • 6-sp auto-cl man: 6-speed auto-clutch manual
  • 7-sp twin-cl auto: 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
  • FWD: front-wheel drive
  • AWD: all-wheel drive
  • RWD: rear-wheel drive

Types of SUVs

SUVs are divided into classifications based on their size, build and drivetrain (for example, whether it’s a 4-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive vehicle). Buyer’s Guides, such as the one created by Facebook[6], are superb at highlighting the main problem areas and provide an overall price guide.

Subcompact SUVs
One of the fastest growing categories, subcompact SUVs such as the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, and Mazda CX-3 are models that, while lacking in huge amounts of extra space, are complimented by lower fuel costs and affordable pricing.

Cost: Some basic models can be acquired for less than €20,000, but prices can go into the €20s as extra features are added.

Small SUVs

Small SUVs can offer a wide range of benefits, when compared to a standard hatchback or sedan style model. This includes a higher driving position than cars and flexible cargo space. Recent Consumer Report[7] studies showed that fuel economy is typically 25-28 mpg overall, although there are models which use more than others.

Most small SUVs are cited as having limited off-road abilities but are ‘sufficient for the occasional dirt road, muddy trail, or beach sand.’

Cost: Anything from the low 20s right up to €30,000+ depending on model and extras.

Midsized SUVs

Midsized SUVs provide the best reported balance of ‘power, interior space, cargo room, and safety for many families[8]’. Some bestselling examples of midsize SUVs include the Subaru Ascent, Mazda CX-9, Jeep Grand Cherokee, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander and Dodge Journey.

Cost: Midsized SUVs start at the mid €30,000 range to over €50,000 for higher end models.

Large SUVs

While power and aesthetic may come with owning a large SUV, so will a heavy fuel bill and loss of handling, so be certain that you make the right choice, as a mistake in this category will be an expensive one. Interior space and towing capacity are often excellent. Just make sure you need it.

Popular large SUVs include the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and the INFINITI QX80.

Cost: Large SUV prices now range up to €80,000. Not for the faint of heart or meagre of budget.

Luxury SUVs

Luxury SUVs usually contain more technology, safety and convenience features directly in the console, such as high-end audio and navigation. They also tend to have more powertrain options, such as plug-in hybrids or powerful 12-cylinder engines with an extensive range of automatic transmissions.

Some examples of luxury SUVs include the BMW X5, INFINITI QX80, Mercedes-Benz GL 550, Cadillac Escalade and the Lexus LX.

Cost: The sky is the limit here, but luxury models with a modest amount of extras will set you back at least €80,000-€90,000. High end models can be up to €200,000 plus.

So, there you have it. A lot to consider, but bear the following in mind and you’ll be off to a great start.

Things to Consider When Buying a SUV

  1. Fuel Efficiency
  2. Passengers
  3. Engine Size
  4. 4WD and AWD Drivetrains
  5. Towing Capacity
  6. Off-Road Capabilities
  7. SUV Seating Capacity
  8. Cargo Space
  9. Safety and Technology
  1. SUV options on the market
  2. There are plenty of guides
  3. according to The Journal
  4. little bit of jargon (via Motortrend)
  5. SUV consumer reports
  6. Buyer’s Guides, such as the one created by Facebook
  7. Recent Consumer Report
  8. Midsized SUVs