SUVs are popular among families because of their roomy interiors and extra seating when compared with standard-size cars and trucks. SUVs are designed for off-road use and feature four-wheel drive. They can be beneficial for driving in harsh weather and road conditions but should be driven with care because SUVs' higher center of gravity makes them more prone to rollover accidents than cars.
Car-based SUVs, also known as crossover vehicles, are the smallest type of SUV on the market as of 2010. They are built on a carlike body platform, with independent suspension and all-wheel drive. Because they are car-based, crossovers handle similarly to a standard car and get better gas mileage than trucks and larger SUVs. Crossovers can handle mild off-road situations but not challenging conditions. Crossovers can have either six- or four-cylinder engines. Car-based SUVs typically rate highest in overall performance by Consumer Reports when compared to other types of SUVs. Crossover SUV models include the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.
Traditional SUVs are made on trucklike body-on-frame platforms that are the same or comparable to a pickup truck platform. Midsize truck-based SUVs have a greater towing capacity than cars or crossovers and can handle more adverse off-road conditions when they have four-wheel drive. Most midsize SUVs do not have independent rear suspension, which makes for a rougher ride for passengers. Truck-based SUVs do not handle as well as cars or crossovers and get lower gas mileage. Although most SUVs are equipped with a six-cylinder engine, some midsize vehicles have an eight-cylinder, making them more ideal for hauling heavy loads, though it takes an even greater toll on gas mileage. Some midsize SUV models include Ford Escape and Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy Blazer and Toyota 4Runner.
The largest SUVs are truck-based. Like the midsize SUV, they are made on trucklike body-on-frame platforms that are the same or comparable to the company's largest pickup truck platform. Large SUVs are ideal for drivers who want a high driving position on the road and towing power and safety on snowy or slippery road conditions. The largest SUVs are the most cumbersome to drive and should be handled the same way a full-sized van would be driven. The high center of gravity makes the large vehicles the most likely to roll over during a sharp turn, swerve or emergency driving maneuver. Large SUVs are most often equipped with a six- or eight-cylinder engine to give them sufficient towing power. They are the least fuel-efficient of the SUVs. Although they are larger, the vehicles typically still seat only five people but have more storage space in the back. In collisions with other vehicles, large SUVs tend to suffer less damage than smaller vehicles depending on the situation of the crash. Large SUV models include the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, GMC Denali, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe.