Compact sport utility vehicle

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Compact sport utility vehicle, also known as compact SUV, is a class of small sport utility vehicles that is larger than mini SUVs, but smaller than mid-size SUVs with a length roughly between 4.25 to 4.60 metres (167 to 181 in).

In markets such as India, They were originally a sub-segment of Utility Vehicles, but the smaller size versions have grown to become a dominant segment.[1]


According to Bob Lutz, an executive at several car companies, American Motors (AMC) "invented an all-new automotive segment—the compact sport utility vehicle" with the original compact Jeep Cherokee two- and four-door models.[2]

The modern compact SUV models were introduced in 1983. General Motors released the two-door Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, a four-wheel drive wagon with a four-cylinder engine as standard.[3] Mid-year, Ford brought out the Ford Bronco II. Both models were body-on-frame designs based on each automaker's small pickup trucks, the Chevrolet S-10 and Ford Ranger respectively. Chevrolet's S-10 pickup based baby Blazer came with an all-steel, permanent roof and a top-hinged rear hatch.[4] The Bronco II's general dimensions, drive train, and cab details were identical to those of the compact truck with differences in the interior only aft of the doors.[5] Both were station wagon-like vehicles with seating for four adults and an enclosed cargo area, while their similar compact truck versions that would normally fit two and have an open load bed.

Jeep Cherokee (XJ), the first purpose-designed unibody compact SUV

The first purpose-designed unibody compact SUV, and the first with four-doors, was the Jeep Cherokee (XJ).[6] It was introduced by American Motors Corporation in 1983 for the 1984 model year and was produced almost unchanged through 2001 in the U.S., and through 2005 in China. The compact XJ Cherokee took its name from the full-size SJ model that came before it, but was smaller.

While the competing SUVs were adaptations of trucks, Jeep did not sell many pickup trucks so they designed a SUV first; starting with a four-door version and featuring a very strong, lightweight unibody construction like most passenger cars, as well as with a lightweight "link/coil" suspension design that was praised by the automotive press for its superior ride, performance, and handling.[7] The original Jeep XJ combined a passenger car comfort with a rugged chassis for ease of driving in difficult conditions, and established the modern SUV market segment.[8] Automobile magazine called it a "masterpiece" of automotive design with room for five passengers and their cargo.[9]

The compact Cherokee's design, appearance, and sales popularity spawned imitators as other automakers noticed that the Jeep XJ models began replacing regular cars.[10] Compact SUVs have become an alternative to the minivans for families who need cargo space.[11] While almost unchanged since its introduction, Cherokee XJ production continued through 2005 in China, and was one of the best-selling compact SUVs in the world.[12] There were over 2.8 million Jeep XJs built in the U.S. between 1984 and 2001.[13]

Current market[edit]

The Honda CR-V is a modern compact SUV

Most compact SUVs since the mid-2000s are crossover SUVs with monocoque construction and limited off-road capabilities. These models are often derived from a compact car automobile platform.

There are many different brands and models available in this market segment across numerous national markets. For example, the U.S. is "crowded with so many of these vehicles that simply sorting through them can be a daunting task."[14] There are so many models in different price ranges and targeting different consumer needs that one publisher, U.S. News & World Report, separately evaluates compact SUVs on the basis of "best value for the money"[15] and "best for families."[16]

Subcompact sport utility vehicles[edit]

In 2013, the Renault (Dacia) Duster became the 3rd best-selling subcompact SUV in the world
Peugeot 2008, a modern subcompact SUV
In 2014, the Renault Captur is the best-selling subcompact SUV in Europe

A subcompact SUV, also called a mini SUV or subcompact crossover, is a class of small sport utility vehicles with a length under and around 4,200 mm (165.4 in). The term usually comprises any vehicle that is smaller than a compact SUV in North American standardization, or any 4x4 with a supermini body in international standardization or based on a supermini (B-segment cars in Europe) platform.[17][18][19]

First mini SUVs appeared in the course of 1990s and were off-road vehicles built on body-on-frame chassis, such as the Suzuki Samurai. Some of the current models still use this concept, mostly due to their off-road prowess and more manageable size on the trail (for example, a large SUV might not fit in the narrower parts of the trail).

However, most modern mini SUVs reside on unibody construction and offer only few off-road capabilities, hence falling into the crossover SUV category. Some are even representative of modern superminis with only a bumper hinge and more ground clearance.

In Japan, as cars under 3,400 mm (133.9 in) in length are classified as kei cars and attract lower taxes; some manufacturers build these cars with off-road looks (such as the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Modi, Ajay (May 30, 2016). "Size matters: Compact SUVs emerge the new force disruptor". Business Standard India. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Lutz, Robert A. (2003). Guts: 8 laws of business from one of the most innovative Business Leaders of Our Time. Wiley. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-471-46322-1. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  3. ^ Foster, Patrick R. (2004). The Story of Jeep. Krause Publications. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-87349-735-0. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Dunne, Jim (June 1982). "'83 Preview". Popular Science. 220 (6): 67. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  5. ^ Dunne, Jim (May 1983). "Ford's new off-road compact Bronco II". Popular Science. 222 (5): 85. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  6. ^ Foster, p. 246.
  7. ^ Boberg, Evan. "History of the Jeep Liberty". Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  8. ^ Burgan, Michael (2005). The Automobile. Gareth Stevens Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 9780836858006. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Cumberford, Robert (April 2009). "20 greatest cars". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved March 10, 2015. Great designs never grow old, a truth no better confirmed than by designer Dick Teague's masterpiece, the Jeep Cherokee. Possibly the best SUV shape of all time, it is the paradigmatic model to which other designers have since aspired
  10. ^ Bradsher, Keith (2002). High and Mighty: SUVs - the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way. PublicAffairs. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-58648-123-0.
  11. ^ "At a Glance: competition between the segments". The Power report: Volume 20. J.D. Power and Associates. 1998. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  12. ^ Foster, p. 242.
  13. ^ Zappe, Eric (2015). Jeep Cherokee XJ Performance Upgrades: 1984-2001 (Revised ed.). CarTech. p. 9. ISBN 9781613251768. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  14. ^ "Practicality Matters: Every Compact Crossover SUV Ranked from Worst to Best". Car and Driver. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Corcoran, T. Arthur (February 21, 2018). "Best Compact SUVs for the Money in 2018". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Threewitt, Cherise (March 26, 2018). "10 Best Compact SUVs for Families in 2018". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  17. ^ "Prepare for the mini-SUV invasion…". Top Gear. April 24, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  18. ^ "Nissan Juke 1.5dCi Tekna Review". Autocar. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "Auto Express - First Drive Nissan Juke". jukeownersclub. Retrieved May 24, 2017.