List of Different Types of SUVsby Laura RicoUpdated July 25, 2023
SUVs are popular among families because of their roomy interiors and extra seating when compared with standard-size cars and trucks. SUVs are designed for off-road use and feature four-wheel drive and good MPG.
They can be beneficial for driving in harsh weather and road conditions but should be driven with care because SUVs' higher center of gravity makes them more prone to rollover accidents than cars.
They offer more versatility, cargo space, and ground clearance than AWD sedans but are more space efficient than larger vehicle models.
From luxury SUVs to electric SUVs, full-size SUVs to subcompact SUVs, here’s an exploration of the different types of SUVs.
Car-Based SUVs or Crossovers
Car-based SUVs, also known as crossover vehicles, are the smallest type of SUV on the market. They are built on a car-like body platform, with independent suspension and all-wheel drive.
Because they are car-based, crossovers handle similarly to a standard car and have better fuel economy than trucks and larger SUVs. They are typically three-row sport utility vehicles, and can be electric vehicles or hybrid SUVs.
Crossovers can handle mild off-road situations but not challenging conditions. Crossovers can have either six- or four-cylinder engines.
Car-based SUVs typically rate highest in overall performance by Consumer Reports when compared to other types of SUVs.
Crossover SUV models include the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, and HR-V, Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander, Subaru Forester, Porsche Cayenne, Lexus RX, Kia Sorento and Telluride, Jeep Wagoneer, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kona, and Nissan Murano. Other car companies including Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Volkswagen and BMW also make compact SUV models.
Medium Truck-Based SUVs
Traditional SUVs are made on trucklike body-on-frame platforms that are the same or comparable to a pickup truck platform.
Midsize truck-based SUVs have a greater towing capacity than cars or crossovers and can handle more adverse off-road conditions when they have four-wheel drive.
Most midsize SUVs do not have independent rear suspension, which makes for a rougher ride for passengers. Truck-based SUVs do not handle as well as cars or crossovers and get lower gas mileage.
Although most SUVs are equipped with a six-cylinder engine, some midsize vehicles have an eight-cylinder, making them more ideal for hauling heavy loads, though it takes an even greater toll on gas mileage.
Some midsize SUV models include Ford Escape and Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy Blazer and Toyota 4Runner.
Large Truck-Based SUVs
The largest SUVs are truck-based. Like the midsize SUV, they are made on truck-like body-on-frame platforms that are the same or comparable to the company's largest pickup truck platform.
Large SUVs are ideal for drivers who want a high driving position on the road and towing power and safety on snowy or slippery road conditions. They generally have v-6 engines and a third row of seats.
The largest SUVs are the most cumbersome to drive and should be handled the same way a full-sized van would be driven. The high center of gravity makes the large vehicles the most likely to roll over during a sharp turn, swerve or emergency driving maneuver.
Large SUVs are most often equipped with a six- or eight-cylinder engine to give them sufficient towing power. They are the least fuel-efficient of the SUVs. Although they are larger, the vehicles typically still seat only five people but have more storage space in the back. In collisions with other vehicles, large SUVs tend to suffer less damage than smaller vehicles depending on the situation of the crash.
Large SUV models include the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, GMC Denali, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe.
A short list of popular SUV models:
Here is a short list of some popular SUV models:
- Ford Escape - A compact crossover SUV that is one of Ford's best-selling models. Available with a choice of engines and trim levels.
- Toyota RAV4 - One of the best-selling compact SUVs, the RAV4 offers great reliability and fuel efficiency. Newer models have more premium features.
- Honda CR-V - Another very popular compact SUV known for its practicality and safety. Spacious interior and good fuel economy.
- Nissan Rogue - Nissan's compact SUV with a comfortable ride and lots of standard safety tech. Available as a hybrid model as well.
- Chevrolet Equinox - A two-row compact SUV from Chevrolet with a comfortable ride and connectivity tech. Gets good fuel economy for its class.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee - Jeep's midsize SUV with great off-road capability and a nicely appointed interior. A classic SUV with plenty of cargo space.
- Ford Explorer - Ford's midsize SUV with an available 365 hp turbocharged V6. Seats up to 7 passengers comfortably.
- Volkswagen Atlas - VW's largest SUV with 3 rows of seating for up to 7. Lots of cargo space and family-friendly features.
- BMW X5 - Luxury midsize SUV with impressive performance and posh interior. Fun to drive with lots of tech features.
Laura Rico has been a journalist for more than five years in Michigan and California. She began her career as a staff writer at two community newspapers before accepting an assistant editor position in Northern California. She currently works as a page designer/copy editor and freelance writer in Holland, Mich.