We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What Is an SUV?

By J. Beam
Updated: May 23, 2024

SUV is the widely used and known acronym for Sport Utility Vehicle. At first conception, an SUV was a vehicle that combined the towing capacity of a full-size truck with the passenger and storage capacity of a minivan. However, as consumer demands have changed, so has the vehicle. Many manufacturers now focus on fuel-efficiency and driving and riding comfort, rather than towing capacity.

Typical features of an SUV include seating for five to seven, high seating and road positioning, roomy interior, non-dedicated trunk space, high engine capacity and 4 wheel drive capability. Though it was originally designed to be an off-road vehicle for sporting purposes, its popularity has spawned several different breeds, including the luxury SUV.

Like cars, the SUV has different classes and sizes. The mid-sized version, which typically seats five, is the best-selling variety in the United States. During the SUV’s height of popularity, the Ford Explorer remained the top-selling model. Compact and full-size SUVs appeal to many consumers equally, but for different reasons. Luxury versions have the same features as standard class models, but contain upgraded interiors and trim packages typically associated with luxury model vehicles, such as leather interior.

Though many modern day motorists value the SUV for its size and roominess, many others criticize their lack of fuel-efficiency and their contribution to air pollution. Consumers who value the vehicle do so not only for its size, but for its perceived safety advantages. Though crash test safety ratings vary with makes and models, some are known to pose the risk of rollover.

Some of the more popular makes and models of SUVs include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Blazer, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda CRV, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hummer and Land Rover, and the Nissan Pathfinder. For those who enjoy the flexibility of combining weekday comfort with weekend fun, it has proven to be a leading choice in vehicles. Similarly, having 4 wheel drive capability and towing capacity without the passenger restrictions of a truck appeals to many car buyers and keeps the SUV a leading seller.

As a concern for the environment and the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles increases, manufacturers worldwide are continuing to explore ways to make improvements to the SUV family to keep them a leading selling vehicle.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Oct 28, 2012

An SUV is a great thing to have if you travel a lot with other people. No one feels cramped, and you have space for everyone's suitcases.

By cloudel — On Oct 27, 2012

I borrowed my friend's SUV while my car was in the shop. I had to drive it to work, and I had a bit of trouble parking.

The spaces are kind of narrow in our lot, and I had quite a time squeezing between the other vehicles. There was only one spot left when I got there, and I was so afraid I was going to scrape someone's car!

By healthy4life — On Oct 27, 2012

@suntan12 – That is great news! I thought that the only way I could afford to purchase one was if I saw a used SUV for sale in someone's front yard, but now, I think I'll wait and save up for the kind with good gas mileage.

I will be starting a family soon, and I know that I will need to trade in my two-door sedan for a more roomy vehicle. I don't think we will need anything as large as a van, but an SUV would be perfect.

I hope to have two or three kids in the next few years. I know that we will need plenty of space for car seats, diaper bags, and luggage for when we visit the grandparents.

By seag47 — On Oct 26, 2012

@Sunny27 – Wow, that is terrible gas mileage! I have heard SUV owners complaining of having to pay so much to fill up their tanks, but I didn't know they would have to do it that often!

Of course, many SUVs do have larger tanks that hold more gallons of gas, but if you burn through it that quickly, I can see how it would be a problem. I can see why you would have to refill your tank so often.

By suntan12 — On May 04, 2011

@Sunny27 -You know because of the increasing governmental CAFÉ standards they are making the SUVs a little lighter in order to comply with better gas mileage.

I recently bought an economical SUV that offered 22 miles to the gallon in the city and 28 miles to the gallon on the highway. The SUV also came with a lot of luxury features so although it is was only $25,000, it felt like a more expensive SUV.

I used to lease a luxury SUV and decided to buy this one. The only thing that I did not like about my new SUV was that it only had a four cylinder engine and that as a little problem when you are used to a six cylinder engine because the acceleration is not the same.

But that is one of the reasons why the gas mileage is so good. So I guess you have to have tradeoffs. But for me, I know that I found the best SUV.

By Sunny27 — On May 03, 2011

@Cafe41 -I also love SUV’s but some of the luxury SUVs really offer low gas mileage so filling up your gas tank is expensive.

My husband had a luxury SUV and it offered eleven miles to the gallon in the city and seventeen miles to the gallon on the highway. He was constantly filling up his gas tank.

He was considering a hybrid SUV because of the gas savings but these new SUVs are more expensive than the traditional SUVs. Although you do save on gas mileage, you lose that advantage because the additional cost of the hybrid SUV is so much higher.

By cafe41 — On May 02, 2011

I agree that safety is the biggest reason why I bought a new SUV. About twelve years ago we had a really bad tropical storm and there was a lot of flooding all over the city. Many people in cars had to abandon their cars but those with SUV’s were a little safer because the vehicle was a little more elevated from the ground.

I had a sedan at the time and vowed to get an SUV and have driven one ever since. I think that the best SUVs have a combination of roomy seats and great safety features. I always look at the insurance ratings before I buy an SUV because I want the safest car because of my children.

I also look at a lot of the consumer advocacy magazines to see which ones they recommend.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.