From a general overview, a sport utility vehicle is defined as a rugged outdoor vehicle that is built upon a firm chassis and yet possesses a lightweight frame. This enables it to be great for outdoor adventures while it is just as equipped to be driven on motorways and within urban areas. The sport utility vehicle is now becoming an increasingly popular choice due to the amount of variants available to the general public as well as a generally lower price than would have been possible a decade ago. Although the first units were considered to be the Range Rover and the Land Cruiser, there are now hundreds of different designs to choose from; each based around the personal needs of the user.

A Basic Overview

Most manufacturers will classify a vehicle as an SUV if it has an elevated chassis height, a larger body and a hatchback in the rear as opposed to a boot. You might have heard the word “cross-over” used on occasion, but this has more to do with marketing concerns rather than the design of the unit in question.

There are two main categories of sport utility vehicles; car-based and those modelled after a pick-up truck. Car-based variants are generally the most common and these can be seen within urban areas. Better fuel economy, a smaller turning radius and a host of internal luxuries define this category. Truck-based units are more rugged in their design and are intended to be used in the outdoors or on farms. Still, they can be easily adapted within a city environment.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the modern SUV, let's take a closer look at some of their defining traits.

Compact SUVs

This type of sports utility vehicle tends to be the most popular within urban settings. As its name suggests, the compact SUV is typically smaller than a full-sized model.  Most experts agree that a length of between 167 and 181 inches defines the typical compact SUV.  While smaller in size, the fact of the matter is that these units are just as reliable as their more traditional counterparts.  Some of the amenities offered in the majority of models include four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, spacious seating and all-weather capabilities.  Examples here include the Jeep Cherokee and the Toyota RAV4.  New models tend to range between $17,000 and $25,000 dollars.


Mini SUVs

If you are looking for a smaller version of the variety mentioned above, a mini

SUV could be the perfect option.  These vehicle is defined by having a length less than 165 inches.  As you may imagine, compact SUVs can be great for driving within cities due to their reduced turning radius.  This line first emerged in the early 1990s with the introduction of the iconic Suzuki Samurai.  Due to the popularity of this original model, it did not take long before car makers started to focus upon the mini SUV as an economical and reliable option.  The Chevy Tracker and the Peugeot 2008 are two examples.  Prices for new models will often range between $12,000 and $20,000 dollars on the open market.


Crossover Models

Crossover SUVs can be thought of as hybrids between a sport utility vehicle and a standard car.  In fact, the majority of these models are actually built upon a car platform.  Therefore, the vehicle will have a much smaller footprint when driving.  Most are equipped with four doors while some contain hatchbacks so that goods can be transported from place to place.  Most standard features such as four-wheel drive, numerous airbags, greater head room and anti-lock brakes are present.  We should point out that opposed to more rugged models, the majority of crossover SUVs are not equipped for off-road capabilities.  Two examples will include the Mazda CX-5 and the Mitsubishi Outlander.  The prices tend to be a bit less when compared to most compact SUVs.  Buyers can expect to pay between $14,000 and $21,000 dollars for a new model.


Luxury SUVs

This final category offers high-end models which are able to provide numerous amenities to the driver.  Besides the standard features mentioned previously, many luxury SUVs boast other items which can dramatically improve the driving experience.  Heated seats, leather interiors, advanced traction control, alloyed rims and larger engines are a handful of options.  The Jaguar F-PACE, the Mercedes-Benz GLE and the  Lincoln MKX will all fall into this category.  Prices generally start at $35,000 dollars and high-end or special builds can cost as much as $80,000 dollars or more.


Features and Advantages

The modern sport utility vehicle offers a superior suspension when compared to a full-sized car or a lightweight pick-up truck. This is partially due to a wider wheel base. Such principles allow for excellent handling during inclement weather. There is also much less of a chance that the unit will roll over in the event of an accident. Most SUVs can seat between five and seven passengers comfortably. It is not uncommon for the back seat to fold down in order to provide even more transportation room.

The SUV is known for its luxury and a host of modern technological advantages. Some common traits within the majority of vehicles available today include:

  • Leather seats
  • Heated consoles
  • Numerous airbags
  • A strong frame
  • On-board entertainment systems such as rear-seat LCD televisions
  • GPS navigation systems

Sport utility vehicles enjoy a wide market range. From young families to off-road enthusiasts, they need to satisfy a number of unique requirements. Thus, safety is another notable advantage within their design. All models are currently equipped with anti-lock brakes as well as all-weather tires. As mentioned previously, the height of the body off of the ground helps to reduce the chances of injuries during an accident. Numerous electronic systems will help to protect passengers and in terms of security, a growing number of models now offer key-less entry systems as opposed to standard ignitions.


Typical Price Range

The size of an SUV is the primary determinant of its ultimate price. Smaller models known as “compact” SUVs will generally fall below $30,000 dollars although some will cost as low as $20,000 dollars. The cheapest SUVs may cost as little as $10,000 dollars. This is an example of how the manufacturing processes have become more streamlined during the past decade. The amount of amenities and extras can naturally have an impact upon this base figure.

Larger models can cost as much as $50,000 dollars. An example here can be the 2016 Range Rover. However, many dealers are looking to appeal to the middle class and thus, even these costs may be reduced dramatically. High-end models (typically those which are specially equipped for off-road use) may be priced at $70,000 dollars or more.


Where to Purchase SUVs: Online and Locally

You will have a number of options if you are thinking about purchasing an SUV.  It is always a good idea to take a look online, for there are numerous different portals at your disposal.  However, we need to keep in mind that some websites are much more reputable than others.  According to recent data, the top online car and SUV marketplaces are:

  • AutoTempest
  • TrueCar
  • Ebay Motors

Not only will you encounter a wide selection of makes and models, but the levels of transparency offered by these services ensures that you will not be “taken for a ride”. 


Your second option is to choose local or national dealers.  Of course, the reputation of a local dealer will depend upon where you live and the size of the company.  If you are searching for a nationwide dealer, be sure to keep in mind the number of physical locations as well as what trustworthy news sources have to say.  According to, the top nationwide SUV (and car) dealers are:

  • Jaguar
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Land Rover
  • Lexus

These results were based off of customer satisfaction, the number of vehicle options and overall sales figures.  Please feel free to use this article as a guide when choosing your next SUV.