The time to buy your next family vehicle is approaching, and you’re thinking about purchasing an SUV. Owning a sports utility vehicle definitely has its perks, but before you buy, you should learn about SUVs in general so you’re well-armed for the shopping process. Here are some key things you need to know.
Probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think of SUVs is that they’re big. Big, however, falls short of describing your options. SUVs come in compact (crossover), mid-size, and full-size. A compact SUV can comfortably fit at least four adults, whereas a full-size one can hold six or more adults without making them feel like sardines.
Don’t rely on class distinction alone when evaluating the interior space of a vehicle. Some have easy ways to move the back seats to create more room for cargo, along with convenient storage bins for items like snacks and the kids’ iPods. Reading consumer reviews can give you a good idea of the availability and usability of space in a vehicle before you step foot on that dealer lot.
Active families have errands to run, sports events and dance lessons to attend, and of course work and school. All that driving might make you hesitate to purchase an SUV because larger vehicles are notoriously thirsty for fuel. Indeed, most full-size SUVs top out at about 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.
However, an SUV hybrid can give you all the advantages of an SUV and spare you some pain at the gas pump. A compact SUV hybrid can get you upwards of 30 mpg on the highway, which hits the spot for any family on the go. Plus, going easier on the environment is never a bad thing.
Heated seats, an amazing sound system, navigation — how hungry for luxury are you? Depending on your budget, you can buy an SUV that has every gadget, gizmo, and doodad conceivable. Some manufacturers include conveniences like a rear-view camera and blind spot detection standard on at least one of their SUV models. Make a list of the amenities you know you want, but don’t stop there. Some vehicles may come with high-tech features you didn’t even know existed, so do research before you finalize that list.
No one wants a big vehicle that looks like it can tear up the freeway but struggles to climb up a hill. Happily, you won’t come across many underpowered SUVs. Although some compact SUVs have four-cylinder engines, many have at least six cylinders. Full-size SUVs often come equipped with V8s, giving you not only the oomph to rush along any road, but also the ability to tow that boat you’ve had your eye on.
If you go with a hybrid model, you might fear losing out on some of that power. It’s true that gas-powered engines in hybrids are smaller than in their standard counterparts, but howstuffworks.com uncovers that, “On most hybrids, the electric motor can also send power to the wheels alongside the gasoline engine. That translates into plenty of power – in some cases more than comparable standard cars.” The lesson? Test drive before you judge a hybrid as underpowered.
One of the key things you should know about any SUV before you buy is how safe it is. Many models come with standard features like side curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes. Size by itself is also a safety feature. In a collision, large vehicles fare better and there’s less risk of injury to the occupants. Also, if you choose an SUV with 4WD, you can conquer inclement weather with confidence.
The only downside when it comes to the safety of SUVs is that their bulk cuts back on maneuverability, meaning that they get into accidents that smaller cars could avoid altogether.
SUVs are useful for grocery shopping, moving large items, taking your kid’s soccer team out for ice cream, and a host of other things. When choosing your SUV, consider all the above factors so you can find the vehicle that is just right for you.