The SUV, or sports utility vehicle, has become one of the most popular forms of transportation today. Almost all modern car manufacturers have an SUV or ‘crossover’ line – battling it out with each other to make the most luxurious utility vehicle on the road.
At the same time, SUVs have always been the subject of relentless criticism. Critics often label SUVs as wasteful, expensive and dangerous vehicles that contribute to greenhouse emissions and rising accident numbers on the roads.
But is the hatred justified? It’s a question many of us ponder every day. Whether you’re an SUV lover or an SUV hater, there are a few things to consider when explaining their presence on our roads.
Why are SUVs hated?
There are a few reasons why SUVs might attract negative attention. They’re often labelled as dangerous, gas-guzzling, polluting and bad for pedestrian safety. Also, some people simply don’t like the design of SUVs or the stereotypical image of the people who drive them.
Are SUVs gas guzzlers?
SUVs are larger and heavier than most regular vehicles, like sedans and hatchbacks. A BMW X5 model can weigh up to a whopping 2,510kg – whilst a fourth-generation Mazda MX5 convertible tops out at only 960kg. Because SUVs are heavier, they burn more petrol (or gas) to get up to speed: hence the name ‘gas-guzzler’.
Also, SUVs have bigger engines and carry more power than your average car. Bigger engines burn more fuel to produce more power. This added power counteracts the heavier weight of the SUV, allowing it to be quick and competitive on the road. This does however mean that more fuel is typically consumed by SUVs.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. With huge strides now being made in the electrification of SUVs, the ‘gas-guzzler’ association could soon be forgotten. Mazda’s MX-30 SUV is a prime example of a fully electrified SUV with a decent range and a contemporary design to boot.
What is wrong with SUVs?
Like we said above, there are a few different reasons why people might think SUVs are wrong – from the perception that there are too many on the road to logical safety concerns.
Some just hate how they look. They think SUVs are big and clumsy, taking up too much space on the road and in parking lots. You might have been the victim of a scratch or scrape from a huge SUV parking next to you. I’ve certainly been there.
Because of this, crossover SUVs have become more and more popular in recent years. Manufacturers are borrowing the looks and styling from hatchbacks and sedans (as well as the unibody chassis) to make SUVs more appealing to us car-folk.
Negative impact on the environment
Others consider the environmental impact of SUVs to be worrying. Bigger engines and enhanced power means more fuel consumption. With increasing climate awareness and initiatives to discourage gas guzzlers on our roads, SUVs are taking the brunt of the criticism. To counteract this, hybrid SUVs and fully-electrified SUVs are becoming increasingly popular options.
The safety concerns
There has been strong debate about the safety of SUVs. The height and sound-isolated nature of an SUV can mean that the driver feels less ‘connected’ to the road. Everything is cushioned, dampened and soundproofed to ensure maximum luxury. Unfortunately, this luxury can distract drivers from obvious hazards on the road.
When people feel too comfortable while driving, they might be less alert and less focused on potential accidents waiting to occur. Also, the height of SUVs can impair the driver’s vision of things that are low to the ground, whilst also raising the car’s centre of gravity – making it easier for an SUV to roll over during an accident or collision. Not good.
Lastly, the extra weight carried by the typical SUV can worsen the impact on other vehicles in an accident. If a 2-and-a-half ton SUV crashes into a 900kg convertible, the damage to the convertible would likely be catastrophic.
So there you have it – there are a few reasons why somebody might be concerned about SUVs. But there are benefits, right? There’s got to be a reason why so many people buy them, surely? Let’s delve into one of the most important benefits – safety.
Are SUVs safer than other cars?
For the most part, yes. SUVs do tend to be safer than smaller and lighter vehicles like sedans and hatchbacks.
With that being said, not all SUVs are built alike. Each manufacturer will design and build SUVs to their own specifications. Some manufacturers will prioritise safety, whilst others might just want to produce an affordable model with low manufacturing costs. Also, in terms of safety, the scale of SUVs can sometimes mean they’re more likely to be involved in accidents due to their sheer size.
Many families purchase SUVs due to their perceived safety benefits. A bigger car makes some drivers feel much safer and less likely to be injured out on the road.
Are SUVs boring?
There are a few good reasons why people think SUVs are boring to drive. They’re too cushioned. They don’t handle well. They’re too heavy. There’s too much focus on luxury and not the driving experience. These are all common examples that I’ve seen crop up time and time again on forums and at in-person car meets.
It’s ultimately down to personal preference. Some SUV drivers just want to get from A to B in considerable style and comfort. Others might genuinely enjoy the driving experience that comes from handling an SUV. And who are we to judge? Everyone has different tastes and holds different expectations for their cars.
This article has been an interesting one to write. If you find yourself thinking ‘I hate SUVs’ on a regular basis, you’re not alone.
I’ve always been surrounded by SUV hatred – whether it’s the concerns about safety or the mockery of typical SUV drivers, I’ve always been confused by it. I’m not a huge fan of SUVs on a personal level – but they don’t really bother me. I just have a different taste in cars.
And that’s all there is to it. How do you feel about SUVs? Let us know below!