South Africans love long weekend getaways and driving the open road. It’s no wonder that SUVs, (or ‘sports utility vehicles’) continue to be one of the most sought-after vehicle types in the country. They offer space, comfort, and performance for the open road and rugged terrain – but for the city dweller, are SUVs worth the costs associated with them, and more importantly, how practical are they? As with any type of vehicle, along with the benefits come a few disadvantages. Which ones are you prepared to forego?
Advantages of owning an SUV
- Comfort and cabin space – From head space to boot space and everything in between, SUVs are simply much larger than a sedan and offers an element of comfort and luxury in the cabin. More room also makes an SUV extremely child- and pet-friendly, and the extra compartments and storage space keeps bring-alongs like toys and snacks neatly tucked away.
- Versatility – An SUV can be used for a wider variety of purposes than a sedan. They can take on different road surfaces easily, are the ultimate vehicle for regular family outdoor adventure activities, and most have powerful engines that will allow you to tow a trailer, boat, and even a caravan.
- Storage capacity – SUVs are perfect for large families and people who love sports or the outdoors, enabling them to bring along large-sized equipment such as tents, mountain bikes, kayaks, and surfboards.
- Grip and handling – Wet and slippery conditions are not an issue for this four-wheel-drive vehicle. Neither is rough or uneven ground. Basically, it can take you to wherever you want to go.
- Ruggedness – The sturdier frame of an SUV provides the vehicle with a robust foundation that enables durability and power. If adventure and the great outdoors is your thing and you’re sure to indulge regularly, then this vehicle is going to serve you well.
- Full view ahead – Due to its higher seating position you’ll be able to see the road clearly – hazards like potholes or fallen items on the road can be avoided in time. You’ll also be able to see over smaller vehicles and ahead of you in heavier traffic, and you’ll have the advantage of finding a spot in a crowded parking lot.
- Ground clearance – More than the ability to mount pavements, SUVs can drive through deeper waters than sedans without damaging the engine. Note: If ever caught in a situation like this such as a flooded street or bridge, always heed on the side of caution first.
Overall, the main advantage of owning an SUV over a sedan is its extra space and height.
Disadvantages of owning an SUV
- Price – Basically, the bigger the car, the more you can expect to pay for it. And that’s just the beginning.
- Fuel costs – Being bigger and heavier than a standard passenger car, an SUV will require more fuel energy to run. Although manufacturers are working on making them more fuel efficient with the use of more aerodynamic designs and reducing their weight with advanced structural materials, sedans are simply smaller and lighter and will be hard to beat for fuel economy.
- Cost of parts – Along with the higher cost of vehicle parts, the added weight of SUVs puts more strain on its tyres and brakes. This causes faster wear and tear, meaning you’ll have to replace components more regularly.
- Weight and bulk – In the city, driving an SUV can be cumbersome. Unless you’re using it to transport five to eight passengers every day, all that bulk is wasted space.
- CO2 emission – A more fuel-hungry vehicle like an SUV will naturally emit more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which doesn’t make it an environmentally-friendly possession if you’re concerned about your children’s future on the planet.
- Parking – Manoeuvrability in this realm isn’t as easy as a smaller vehicle due to its bulkiness, and parallel parking may well be somewhat of a challenge, even for the most experienced driver.
Overall, the main disadvantage about owning an SUV is its weight and high maintenance costs.
Are SUVs Safer than Cars?
There may be some misconception that SUVs are generally safer than sedans because of their larger, higher, and sturdier frame, but there’s more to safety than size.
Whether an SUV or car is safer is both circumstantial and technological. In a head-on collision with a lighter vehicle, SUVs have a clear advantage because it is able to take on the force of the impact better. But in a situation such as cornering at high speed, the same SUV is more prone to rolling due to its high centre of gravity. However, newer models built with ECS (Electronic Control Stability) are designed to mitigate this risk.
When it comes to safety, choosing an SUV simply due to its larger size does not mean an automatic win.
When looking to buy an SUV, it’s important to understand your reasons and the main purpose it will serve. There’s no point being stuck with a vehicle that doesn’t suit you, your budget, or your lifestyle. But once you know what that vehicle is, it can bring you many years of good memories. And an SUV may very well be one of those!
Disclaimer: This information is for educational or informational purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Supa Quick.