already a firm favourite among car buyers, the crossover has become increasingly popular in the last decade
SUVs tend to cost more a month to run than your average hatchback, but they’re also incredibly capable in all conditions and a hit with larger families.
The name SUV simply means Sports Utility Vehicle. First known as ‘station wagon’, SUV is used to describe a big, usually powerful, usually four-wheel drive vehicle with strong off-road capabilities. That said, SUVs also generally have comfortable interiors and easy-to-drive handling, which makes them great family cars as well.
SUVs are characterised in design by being high off the ground with a hatchback boot, sloping rear and spacious enough interior to comfortably fit five to seven people.
Be careful not to confuse an SUV and a 4x4. A lot of SUVs do tend to feature 4x4 drivetrains – where the engine power is shared to all four wheels when engaged – but that isn’t a defining characteristic. Some SUVs are ‘all wheel drive’ (AWD) – meaning the power is always on, with sensors choosing where to send it when it’s needed – and there’s also 'two wheel drive' (2WD) versions too.
An SUV is usually defined by its intended style, design and purpose, rather than how the power gets to the road.
SUVs come in many different shapes and sizes, and have even split off into their own sub-categories too, including the increasingly popular Crossover – which you can read more about here. But regular SUVs tend to be based on pick-up or car style floorplans, the former being more suited to heavy work like towing and off-roading, while the latter lends itself better to everyday pursuits such as the school run and commuting.
The Range Rover Sport takes all of the SUV characteristics and makes them more dynamic.
The cut-price Range Rover Evoque has been the manufacturer’s most successful ever model.
The German marque’s mid-size luxury X5 is a rival to the Range Rover.
Volkswagen’s entry into the SUV segment has a lot to offer.
The iX35 has proven popular with people looking for an SUV on a budget.