SUV car: meaning

Every day it is more common to see large cars on our streets. These cars, halfway between a 4×4 and a utility car, have gained a lot of popularity and have become some of the best-selling models of all brands. But what are SUVs? Why are they so used?

For a few years, SUVs have been the best-selling car segment in most brands, unseating crossovers, which were, until then, the best sellers. Larger than utility vehicles but smaller than SUVs, these vehicles have become very popular among average users, as they offer greater safety while having relatively low fuel consumption.

However, for many the term SUV is a great unknown. In this sense, it is the acronym for: Sport Utility Vehicle or Sport Utility Vehicle in Spanish. In short, it is a type of car in which elements of an off-roader and a traditional passenger car are combined.

These cars have their origin in the US market, although they began to arrive in Europe in the early 2000s and became popular in the late 2010s. In this sense, the main car brands have made a strong commitment to this segment of automobiles, engaging in a real battle to build the best SUVs on the market.

In fact, more traditional and luxury British brands such as Rolls-Royce or Bentley have begun to manufacture this type of car. Even the highest-end sports brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini have opted for their own SUV models. The demand for these cars is so great that manufacturers have even begun to design the first fully electric SUVs to cover this part of the market.

What is an SUV?

These vehicles combine the aesthetics of an SUV with the functionality of a passenger car. In this sense, they have a more robust design, with tall lines and “offroad” looking wheels, but they do not have the same ability to move over all types of terrain that a 4×4 would have. On the other hand, they have the versatility of a utility vehicle, since they allow much more comfortable urban driving than that of an SUV.

These cars appeared during World War II, responding to the need of the allied troops for a light vehicle, capable of fulfilling the tasks of a military car, but also of a commercial one. The original design of these cars was much more similar to that of a van than that of an SUV, offering a larger and more comfortable cabin than that of any passenger car of the time. 

The modern design of SUVs appeared in the 1990s. At that time, three events would mark the appearance of these new design lines. The first of these was the social awareness of pollution and the carbon footprint, the second the overcrowding of cities that made large cars uncomfortable and annoying, as they were difficult to park and took up too much space. Finally, at the end of the 1990s there was a growing demand for family cars that were resistant, versatile and safe.

Since the end of the 90s, these cars have been growing in popularity, surpassing other similar segments such as crossovers or SUVs.

What is the difference between an SUV and a Crossover?

Now that you know what an SUV car is, let’s see what the differences are compared to crossovers. In this sense, although they are two concepts that are very similar, leading to confusion on many occasions, the truth is that they are different automobile segments. 

First of all, it should be clarified that there is no written rule on the differences between crossovers and SUVs. However, as a general rule, the European concept of a crossover is that of a utility car with characteristics of an off-roader. The crossovers have an exterior design similar to that of an SUV, but they usually have lower consumption, both of fuel and car battery, since unlike these they do not have all-wheel drive, but 4 × 2 drive.

This means that traction is only exerted on one of the two axles, either the front or the rear, but never on both. In this way, while an SUV is designed for more or less free use (always less than an off-roader), crossovers are designed for total urban use.

How is an SUV different from an off-roader?

The best value for money SUVs offer certain characteristics of an off-roader, however, their use is usually largely oriented towards urban and highway circulation. 

Unlike SUVs, SUVs offer all the necessary features for offroad driving, such as the availability of a low gear, extra underbody protections, as well as all-wheel drive. In addition, the SUV has a lower consumption than an SUV.

In this sense, SUV brands, although they try to emulate the robust and adventurous-looking design of an off-roader, what they actually offer is a spacious car that is safer than a traditional utility vehicle. This type of car, unlike the SUV, has a clearly familiar orientation, for users who are looking for spacious cars and with protection elements superior to those of a passenger car.

As you can see, this is a very specific piece of car that gets the best of off-roaders, with their reliability and stability, but with the consumption and driving comfort of a utility vehicle. 

In this sense, some brands such as BMW or Citroën have coined their own names to designate SUVs, so if you ever come across a SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) or a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle), you should know that in You are actually in front of an SUV.

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