Sport utility vehicle
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (October 2012)|
A sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a vehicle similar to a station wagon or estate car, usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability. Some SUVs include the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or large sedan.
Since SUVs are considered light trucks in North America, and often share the same platform with pick-up trucks, at one time, they were regulated less strictly than passenger cars under the two laws in the United States, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for fuel economy, and the Clean Air Act for emissions. Starting in 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to hold sport utility vehicles to the same tailpipe emissions standards as cars.
The term is not used in all countries, and outside North America the terms "off-road vehicle", "four-wheel drive" or "four-by-four" (abbreviated to "4WD" or "4×4") or simply use of the brand name to describe the vehicle like "Jeep" or "Land Rover" are more common. In Europe the term SUV has a similar meaning, but being newer than in the US it only applies to the newer street oriented one, where-as "Jeep", "Land Rover" or 4x4 are used for the off-roader oriented ones. Not all SUVs have four-wheel drive capabilities, and not all four-wheel-drive passenger vehicles are SUVs. Although some SUVs have off-road capabilities, they often play only a secondary role, and SUVs often do not have the ability to switch among two-wheel and four-wheel-drive high gearing and four-wheel-drive low gearing. While automakers tout an SUV's off-road prowess with advertising and naming, the daily use of SUVs is largely on paved roads.
Popular in the late-1990s and early–mid-2000s, SUVs sales have since declined due to high oil prices and a declining economy. The traditional truck-based SUV is gradually being supplanted by the crossover SUV, which uses an automobile platform for lighter weight and better fuel efficiency, as a response to much of the criticism of sport utility vehicles. But by 2010, SUV sales around the world recovered, in spite of high gas prices.
Although designs vary, SUVs have historically been mid-size passenger vehicles with a body-on-frame chassis similar to that found on light trucks. Early SUVs were mostly two-door models, and were available with removable tops. However, consumer demand pushed the SUV market towards four doors, by 2002 all full-size two-door SUVs were gone from the market. Two-door SUVs were mostly carry-over models, and their sales were not viable enough to warrant a redesign at the end of their design cycle. The Jeep Wrangler remained as a compact two-door body style, although it was also joined by a four-door variant starting with the 2007 model year, the Wrangler Unlimited. The number of two-door SUV models increased in the 2010s with the release of the Range Rover Evoque and the Nissan Murano convertible, although both vehicles are unibody.
Most SUVs are designed with an engine compartment, a combined passenger and cargo compartment, and no dedicated trunk such as in a station wagon body. Most mid-size and full-size SUVs have three rows of seats with a cargo area directly behind the last row of seats. Cargo barriers are often fitted to the cargo area to protect the vehicles occupants from injury from unsecured cargo in the event of sudden deceleration or collision.
SUVs are known for high ground clearance, upright, boxy body, and high H-point. This can make them more likely to roll over due to their high center of gravity. Bodies of SUVs have recently become more aerodynamic, but the sheer size and weight keeps their fuel economy poor.
Compact SUV 
A compact SUV is a class of smaller SUVs that are commonly built with less cargo and passenger space, and often with smaller engines resulting in better fuel economy. Some examples are: Opel Antara, Mahindra Quanto, Audi Q5, Buick Encore, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, Honda CR-V, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, Range Rover Evoque, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Volvo XC60.
Mid-size SUV 
A mid-size SUV is a class of medium size SUVs whose size typically falls between that of a full size and a compact SUV. This term is not commonly used outside North America, where fullsize and midsize SUVs are considered similar. Some examples are: Ford Explorer, Acura MDX, BMW X5, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Dodge Durango, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe, Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Touareg, Ssangyong Rexton, Jeep Liberty, and Volvo XC90.
Full-size SUV 
A full-size SUV is a class of large size SUVs that are most often larger than Midsize SUVs and much larger than Compact SUVs. They have greater cargo and passenger space than midsize SUVs. Full Size SUVs are usually given higher safety ratings than their smaller counterparts. Some examples are: Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL, Toyota Landcruiser, Lexus LX, and Buick Enclave.
Early SUVs were descendants from commercial and military vehicles such as the World War II Jeep and Land Rover. SUVs have been popular for many years with rural buyers due to their off-road capabilities.
The earliest examples of longer-wheelbase wagon-type SUVs were the Chevrolet Carryall Suburban (1935, RWD only), GAZ-61 (1938, 4×4), Willys Jeep Wagon (1948), Pobeda M-72 (GAZ-M20/1955), which Russian references credit as possibly being the first modern SUV (with unitary body rather than body-on-frame), International Harvester Travelall (1953), Land Rover Series II 109 (1958), and the International Harvester Scout 80 (1961). These were followed by the more 'modern' Jeep Wagoneer (1963), International Harvester Scout II (1971), Ford Bronco (1966), Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-55 (1968), the Chevrolet Blazer / GMC Jimmy (1969), and the Land Rover Range Rover (1970). The actual term "sport utility vehicle" did not come into wide popular usage until the late 1980s; many of these vehicles were marketed during their era as station wagons.
According to Robert Casey, the transportation curator at the Henry Ford Museum, the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) was the first true sport utility vehicle in the modern understanding of the term. Developed under the leadership of AMC's François Castaing and marketed to urban families as a substitute for a traditional car (and especially station wagons, which were still fairly popular at the time), the Cherokee had four-wheel drive in a more manageable size (compared to the full-size Wagoneer), as well as a plush interior resembling a station wagon. With the introduction of more luxurious models and a much more powerful 4-liter engine, sales of the Cherokee increased even higher as the price of gasoline fell, and the term "sport utility vehicle" began to be used in the national press for the first time. "The advent and immediate success of AMC/Jeep's compact four-door Cherokee turned the truck industry upside down."
The corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard was ratified in the 1970s to regulate the fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Car manufacturers evaded the regulation by selling SUVs as work vehicles. The popularity of SUV increased among urban drivers in the last 25 years, and particularly in the last decade. Consequently, modern SUVs are available with luxury vehicle features, and some crossover models adopt lower ride heights to accommodate on-road driving.
Keith Bradsher explained the rise of the SUV with American Motors' (AMC) lobbying the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a waiver of the United States Clean Air Act. The EPA subsequently designated AMC's compact Cherokee as a "light truck", and the company marketed the vehicle to everyday drivers. AMC's effort to affect rulemaking changing the official definition of their new model then led to the SUV boom when other auto makers marketed their own models in response to the Cherokee taking sales from their regular cars.
SUVs became popular in the United States, Canada, India and Australia in the 1990s and early-2000s. U.S. automakers could enjoy profit margins of $10,000 per SUV, while losing a few hundred dollars on a compact car. For example, the Ford Excursion could net the company $18,000, while they could not break even with the Ford Focus unless the buyer chose options, leading Detroit's big three automakers to focus on SUVs over small cars.
The higher cost of union labor in the U.S. and Canada compared to the lower wages of non-union workers at non-U.S. companies like Toyota, made it unprofitable for American auto makers to build small cars in the U.S. For example, the General Motors factory in Arlington, Texas where rear-wheel-drive cars were built, such as the Chevrolet Caprice, Buick Roadmaster, and Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was converted to truck and SUV production, putting an end to full-size family station wagon and overall terminating production of rear-wheel drive full-size cars. Due to the shift in the Big Three's strategy, many long-running cars like the Ford Taurus, Buick Century and Pontiac Grand Prix fell behind their Japanese competitors in features and image (relying more on fleet sales instead of retail and/or heavy incentive discounts); some were discontinued.  
Buyers were drawn to SUVs' large cabins, higher ride height, and perceived safety. Full-size SUVs often offered features such as three-row seating, to effectively replace full-size station wagons and minivans. Wagons were seen as old-fashioned. Additionally, full-size SUVs have greater towing capabilities than conventional cars, and can haul trailers, travel trailers (caravans) and boats. Increased ground clearance is useful in climates with heavy snowfall. The very low oil prices of the 1990s helped to keep down running costs. The SUV was one of the most popular choices of vehicle for female drivers in the U.S.
Social scientists have drawn on popular folklore such as urban legends to illustrate how marketers have been able to capitalize on the feelings of strength and security offered by SUVs. Popular tales include narratives where mothers save the family from armed robbery and other incidents by taking the automobile off road, for example.
In Australia, SUV sales were helped by the fact that SUVs had much lower import duty than passenger cars did, so that they cost less than similarly equipped imported sedans. However, this gap was gradually narrowed, and in January 2010 the import duty on cars was lowered to match the 5 percent duty on SUVs.
Sales of SUVs and other light trucks fell in the mid-2000s because of high oil prices and declining economy. In June 2008, General Motors announced plans to close four truck and SUV plants, including the Oshawa Truck Assembly. The company cited decreased sales of large vehicles in the wake of rising fuel prices. The business model of focusing on SUVs and light trucks, at the expense of more fuel-efficient compact and midsized cars, is blamed for declining sales and profits among Detroit's Big Three automakers since the mid–late-2000s. The Big Three were slower to adapt than their Japanese rivals in producing small cars to meet growing demand due to inflexible manufacturing facilities, which made it unprofitable to build small cars. However, starting in 2010 SUV and light truck sales have started an upward trend due to lower gas prices and a revival of the North American economy.
Use in remote areas 
SUVs are sometimes driven off-road on farms and in remote areas of such places as the Australian Outback, Africa, the Middle East, Alaska, Canada, Iceland, South America, Russia and parts of Asia which have limited paved roads and require a vehicle to have all-terrain handling, increased range, and storage capacity. The scarcity of spare parts and the need to carry out repairs quickly resulted in the popularity of vehicles with the bare minimum of electric and hydraulic systems, such as the basic versions of the Land Rover, Jeep Wrangler, and Toyota Land Cruiser. SUVs for urban driving have traditionally been developed from their more rugged all-terrain counterparts. For example, the Hummer H1 was developed from the HMMWV, originally developed for the military of the United States.
Some buyers choose SUVs because they have more interior space than sedans of similar sizes. In areas with gravel roads in summer and snow and ice in winter, four-wheel drives offer a safety advantage due to their traction advantages under these conditions.
The sport utility vehicles have also gained popularity in some areas of Mexico, especially in desert areas or in cities where drivers frequently encounter potholes, detours, high water and rough roads. Increasing use is also attributed to the high number of dirt roads outside major population centers, resulting in washboard and mud in the rainy seasons.
Use in recreation and motorsport 
Some highly modified SUVs, together with their more rugged off-road counterparts, are also used to explore places otherwise unreachable by other vehicles. In Australia, China, Europe, South Africa, South America and the United States at least, 4WD clubs have been formed for this purpose. Modified SUVs also take part in races, including the Paris-Dakar Rally, the Baja racing series, TREC events, King of the Hammers in California and the Australian Outback.
The Trophee Andros ice-racing series is another competition where SUVs participate as well.
Many 4×4 mud racing events and other activities take place throughout the US organized by clubs and associations.
Luxury SUV 
Numerous luxury vehicles in the form of SUVs and pickup trucks are being produced. Luxury SUV is principally a marketing term to sell fancier vehicles that may have higher performance, comfort, technology, or brand image. The term lacks both measurability and verifiability, and it is applied to a broad range of SUV sizes and types.
Nevertheless, the marketing category was created in 1966 with Kaiser Jeep's luxurious Super Wagoneer. It was the first SUV to offer a V8 engine, automatic transmission, and luxury car trim and equipment in a serious off-road model. It came with bucket seating, air conditioning, sun roof, and even a vinyl roof. Land Rover followed suit in 1970 by introducing the Range Rover. The trend continued with other competitors adding comfort features to their rudimentary and truck-based models.
The production of luxury models increased in the late-1990s with vehicles such as the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade. These luxury SUVs generated higher profit margins than non-luxury SUVs did. For some auto makers, luxury SUVs were the first SUV models they produced. Some of these models are not traditional SUVs based on light truck as they are classified as crossovers.
The luxury SUV class encompasses both smaller 5-passenger SUVs and larger 7-passenger SUVs, with luxury features both inside of the cabin but also in the outside. Buyers looking for a luxury vehicle that offers more cargo capacity than a sedan may prefer a luxury SUV. This is also a vehicle aimed for those who prefer an SUV with a little more style.
Luxury SUVs typically offer the most expected safety features including side airbags, ABS and traction control, and many of them also come with electronic stability control, crash resistant door pillars, dynamic head restraints and back-up sensing systems.
The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Reviews ranks premium midsize SUVs and crossovers based on an in-depth analysis by its editors of published auto ratings, reviews and test drives. Ranking is based on the score on performance, exterior, interior, safety, and reliability obtained by the vehicles.
Other names 
In Australia and New Zealand, the term SUV is not widely used, except by motoring organizations, the press, and industry bodies. Passenger class vehicles designed for off-road use are known as 'four-wheel drives', '4WDs', or '4×4s'. Some manufacturers do refer to their products as SUVs, but others invented names such as XUV, (HSV Avalanche XUV or GMC Envoy XUV) or action utility vehicles (AUVs). The term 'AWD', or all-wheel drive, is used for any vehicle which drives on all four wheels, but may not be designed for off-road use. 'Crossover' is a marketing term for a vehicle that is both four-wheel-drive and primarily a road car.
The pejorative term "Toorak Tractor" is used in Australia to describe vehicles such as Range Rovers used in wealthy urban areas with fine roads, fine dining, and exclusive designer shopping precincts where off-road ability is not required. The term alludes to the affluent Melbourne suburb of Toorak and was used at least as early as the late 1980s. The equivalent term "Chelsea Tractor" became prominent in the United Kingdom around 2004 to describe vehicles such luxury SUVs used in urban areas such as Chelsea, London, where their four-wheel-drive capabilities are not required and the car is believed to be a status symbol rather than a necessity. The term "4×4" (four-by-four) is also common even for vehicles not used in urban areas. "AWD" is not commonly used in the UK.
In Norway the term "Børstraktor" (Stock Exchange Tractor) serves a similar purpose.
In Finland the term "katumaasturi" is commonly used to designate SUVs. It roughly translates to street-off-roader, or street-4×4. This marks the difference with what is called "maasturi" which is a vehicle with off-road capability.
See also 
- Yacobucci, Brent D. (2003-04-17). "Sport Utility Vehicles, Mini-Vans, and LightTrucks: An Overview of Fuel Economy and Emissions Standards". CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Cars, Trucks, Buses, and "Nonroad" Equipment". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Lee, Christian (2007). High-Performance Jeep Wrangler TJ Builder's Guide. CarTech. p. 14. ISBN 9781932494266. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- "sport utility vehicle". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved on August 08, 2008.
- Bradsher, Keith (2004). High and Mighty: SUVs—The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-203-9.
- Bradsher, p. 40.
- Ludel, Moses (1995). Toyota truck & Land Cruiser owner's bible. Robert Bentley. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-8376-0159-5. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
- "From the Battlefield to the Soccer Field" 2 (4). Traffic Safety Center Online Newsletter. Summer 2005. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- Powell's Books website: "High and Mighty: SUVs: The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way". Retrieved on May 27, 2008.
- Bradsher, p. 41.
- Schoenberger, Robert (2008-06-06). "As buyers shun SUVs, expect to pay more for that small car". Cleveland Business News. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- USA Today. 2008-10-16 http://content.usatoday.com/community/tags/topic.aspx?req=tag&tag=Escape%20SUV
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- White, Jerry (2000-05-27). "GM, Ford idle 1,365 workers-auto industry layoffs signal coming downturn in US economy". Wsws.org. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- Caw Girds For War[dead link]
- "Storied Ford Taurus reaches end of line". Detroit News. 2006–10–23. Retrieved 2007–08–14.[dead link]
- Final Ford Taurus interview. ABC News. 2007–07–26.
- "So long, friend. Ford producing last Taurus next week". Autoblog. Retrieved 2007–07–26.
- Bradsher, 2001
- "The 50 Worst Cars Of All Time". Time. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Croft, Robin (2006). "Folklore, families and fear: understanding consumption decisions through the oral tradition". Journal of Marketing Management 22 (9/10): 1053–1076. ISSN 0267-257X.
- "Tariff reduction will soften price rises". Blog.autopeople.com.au. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2010-11-16.[dead link]
- "Matters of great import". Carpoint.com.au. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- "GM: Trucks out, cars in", CNN Money, retrieved on 2008–06–06.
- Krisher, Tom (2008-07-03). "Why Honda is growing as Detroit falls behind / No. 2 Japanese automaker opted to focus on small, popular cars - not gas guzzlers". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Healey, James (2010-07-30). "Surprise: Sales of big SUVs surging faster than small cars". USA Today. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Naughton, Keith (July 2, 2001). "The Unstoppable SUV". Newsweek.
- "Sport Utility Vehicles - The Car for Desert Roads in Baja California". Retrieved 2010-08-06.[dead link]
- Gunnell, John (2005). American Cars of the 1960s: A Decade of Diversity. Krause Publications. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-89689-131-9.
- Foster, Patrick (January 2008). "1963 Jeep Wagoneer - Landmark Vehicle". 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- Frankel, Ernst G. (2006). Challenging American Leadership: Impact of National Quality on Risk of Losing Leadership. Springer-Verlag. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4020-4892-0.
- Fonda, Daren (2004-08-30). "The Shrinking SUV". Time. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- "Buying Guide to New Luxury SUVs". Retrieved 2010-08-06.
- "SUV Rankings: Luxury Midsize SUVs". Retrieved 2010-08-06.
- "rising costs hit motorists_ hip pockets - RACV". Motoring.racv.com.au. 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2009-10-05.[dead link]
- Betts, Alyssa (2009-09-30). "Fire heroes pull boy from burning car". Herald Sun (News.com.au). Retrieved 2009-10-05.[dead link]
- "VFACTS Sales Reports". FCAI. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "HSV's Mr Versatility". Hsv.com.au. 2004-02-19. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- "Toyota Hilux AUV". Toyota.com.au. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- Campbell, Denis (2004-09-26). "Terminator guns for the Chelsea Tractor". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- Sæter, Embret (2009-11-26). "Bloddopet børstraktor" (in Norwegian). DN.no. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "Skoda Yeti: Katumaasturi vai mikä?" (in Finish). Netti Auto. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- date=2010-12-11 "Kia Sportage on muhkea katumaasturi" (in Finish). autot.oikotie.fi. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
Further reading 
- Bradsher, Keith (2004). High and Mighty: SUVs—The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-203-9.
- Josh Lauer. "Driven to Extremes: Fear of Crime and the Rise of the Sport Utility Vehicle in the United States", Crime, Media, Culture, vol. 1, no. 2 (2005), OCLC 201726443 pp. 149–168.
- Penenberg, Adam (2003). Tragic Indifference: One Man's Battle with the Auto Industry over the Dangers of SUVs. HarperBusiness. ISBN 0-06-009058-8.
- Gladwell, M. "Big and bad." (2004, January 12). The New Yorker, LXXIX, 28–30. Retrieved on 2008–05–12.
|Look up sport utility vehicle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Media related to Sport utility vehicle at Wikimedia Commons