Sport Utility Vehicle

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Sport Utility Vehicles are probably the most popular bug-out vehicles. They generally have inferior fuel-economy and handling compared to smaller vehicles, but with 4-wheel-drive and more ground clearance their off-road ability lets them go places cars and motorcycles can't go. They also have superior cargo and seating capacity.

Jeep Cherokee.jpg

Contents

Types of SUV's

Not all SUV's are true off road vehicles. Some SUV's are termed "crossovers" and are based upon a car chassis rather than a light or full-sized truck design. Crossovers make up the largest type of SUV's on the market. Typically they are all wheel drive (AWD) rather than a true four wheel drive (4WD or "4x4"). These AWD vehicles have poorer off road performance than a 4x4 SUV but are generally superior than any truck based SUV in fuel efficiency.

In addition to AWD/4WD crossovers some light truck based SUV's that are two wheel drive (2WD) rather than all wheel drive (AWD) or true four wheel drive (4WD or 4x4). These 2WD SUV's offer greater fuel efficiency than a traditional 4x4 SUV and greater passenger capacity than a light truck. They also offer greater cargo and towing capacity than either a crossover SUV or a mini-van. However they have the poorest off road performance of any other type of SUV.

Traditional mid-sized 4x4 SUV's such as Jeeps and Land Rovers have been the industry standard for off road vehicles for decades before the SUV moniker was created as a marketing ploy by car makers during the 1990's. These offer the best off road performance but unless extended/extra long versions are selected generally only carry four or five passengers and little cargo.

Full size truck based 4WD SUV's include the Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon line of SUV's. These vehicles have the greatest passenger, cargo and towing capacity of any SUV class but it comes at a major price in fuel efficiency. The three largest SUV's of this class, Ford Excursion, Chevy Suburban and Hummer have all be discontinued due to this weakness which reduced sales when fuel prices rose as a part of the 2008 Recession.

The last type of SUV are the luxury class such as the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator and Lexus LX models. These high end SUV's are more suited to cruising the boulevard than off-roading and often attract unwanted attention by criminals which lowers their suitability as Bug Out Vehicles (BOV's).[1]

Accessories & Modifications

Disadvantages and Overcoming Them

Every vehicle has its own unique challenges, whether it lacks certain abilities, is more demanding of its operator, or has limits of capacity, all vehicles are imperfect. The following entries address overcoming these obstacles.

  • Fuel Efficiency is perhaps the greatest shortcoming of SUVs, when compared to smaller vehicles. SUVs have several advantages that allows them to overcome this; diesel capability, cargo capacity, and off-road capability. Many more SUVs are available that use diesel, which is a more efficiently used fuel and is more widely available in unexpected places than gasoline, is more common with SUVs than cars. Cargo capacity is perhaps the easiest way to extend a SUVs range, storing fuel in extra containers can give SUVs even greater range than a car or other vehicle. SUVs also have superior off-road capabilities, especially with four-wheel drive, which allows them to take either more direct routes or avoid roads that would otherwise be extremely crowded during a mass exodus. Finally, learning to drive efficiently by understanding how to correctly accelerate, use land features, and use the most efficient speeds can greatly improve range.
  • Handling can be a shortcoming of many SUVs due to higher center of gravity and increased weight. The key to overcoming this is primarily in driver ability and route selection. Choosing a route to play to the vehicle's strengths, such as being outside of cities, will help to avoid fast turns and other difficult maneuvers. Driver experience is the best way to deal with this problem, however. While SUVs will never handle like a sports car, a driver who is intimately familiar with their SUV will likely be able to out maneuver the average sports car owner.

See Also

References

1. Maynard, Micheline, New York Times Wheels.blog.com, 2010-08-03

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