It surprises me how many of my single female friends either own or want to own SUVs. In all cases, they tell me it’s for better handling in the mountains and a safer drive in the winter — completely inaccurate, yet widespread notions. SUVs, in fact, offer little more than a slightly elevated ride — a jacked up station wagon, if you will.
This elevated positioning means they’ve got a higher centre of gravity — that, along with their short wheelbase makes them less stable than cars and more susceptible to rolling.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 62 per cent of SUV occupants killed in 2004 were involved in rollovers. That number drops to 24 per cent for occupants of cars.
While some crossovers are less likely to roll, generally SUVs don’t handle as well as cars according to most experts and consumer resources, such as Popular Mechanics and Edmunds.com.
While some SUVs handle better off road than cars, it’s unlikely most will ever travel anything more dangerous than a pothole. The size and weight of SUVs can make actually them a riskier ride due to potentially slower braking. But their size and weight also makes them undeniably safer in the case of a collision with anything smaller — including cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
That’s not exactly a persuasive case to get more SUVs on the road. Their size and weight also gives them a deserved reputation as gas guzzlers. Most SUVs cannot compete with the fuel economy of cars, although some hybrid SUVs achieve higher fuel efficiency than non-hybrid cars.
The carrying capacity is generally greater in SUVs. For many parents and dog owners, this is a selling feature.
I’ve always wondered why though. When I was a kid, we’d make all sorts of roadtrips in the family sedan. You couldn’t take the whole house with you, but somehow we managed.
As for dogs, I’m not sure if a dog really cares what kind of vehicle it’s travelling in.
My dog often accompanies me on long roadtrips and she seems to quite enjoy the hatch of my car, gazing out the window or napping on her bed.
If you view driving as a combat situation where the biggest vehicle wins or if you’re planning on carrying a pack of Great Danes across the Sahara, an SUV might be the vehicle for you. Otherwise, a car will probably do.