How to Choose the Best SUV for Your Needs and Budget

There’s a myriad choices regarding the vehicle that fits your lifestyle. Still, most people would agree that an SUV has a particular pull and appeal – whether you’re looking for a family car or are a single individual looking for a truly comfortable ride. Since the first SUV came out into the market in the 70s – supposedly, it was a Jeep Cherokee – consumers haven’t looked back, and among the best types of cars out there, the SUV is in a class of its own. But if you’re considering one as a first vehicle or the nth vehicle in your roster, it still pays to choose the one that suits your needs, lifestyle, preference, and budget. So how do you choose the best SUV? What should you look for in terms of features, comfort, safety, capacity, and so on? Here’s how you can choose the best SUV for your needs, budget, and more.

Learn more about your choices

When it comes to the SUV – or the sports utility vehicle, as it is widely known – many consumers are drawn to this type of vehicle because of its height. But they are drawn to it for several other reasons, too – its robustness and strength, all-wheel drive, versatility, and image. When you’re driving an SUV, everyone notices – and since there are sub-categories of SUVs (and therefore many choices in terms of price and size), you are guaranteed to find one that caters to your budget, whatever it is.

There are different types of SUVs; the majority are called CUVs or crossover utility vehicles (or crossovers, in short). Crossovers are comparable to cars in that they are constructed from the same platform, so it follows that they have better comfort and handling than your average truck. A subcompact SUV is a somewhat taller option than a subcompact car, and they usually have elevated heights and upright seats. There are also SUVs from luxury brands that offer better performance and high-end interiors.

The small SUV is ideally suited to those looking for more room than a car, and newer models, such as the Tucson from Hyundai, come with extra pizzazz and style, as confirmed by Compact SUVs from luxury brands such as Audi and BMW also offer improved handling, a sleek finish, and a quieter cabin, although be prepared to pay more (and possibly get decreased fuel economy).

There are other types of SUVs on the market, including mid-sized SUVs and large SUVs, so it’s essential to do your research and ask other SUV owners about their experience with their vehicles – and you’ll get a better idea of the SUV that will fit you.

Top factors to consider – how to choose

1. The cargo capacity


Since an SUV will have a lot of versatility in its seats, the usual configuration is that the space after the front seating can be used for cargo, and the 2nd and 3rd-row seating can be folded. For better cargo, the seats should fold down flat. SUVs usually have a higher floor than mini-vans, so loading heavy objects can be extra challenging. But look for SUVs that have hands-free lifting gates that are power operated, so it is easier to open the cargo bay.

2. The seating


Most – if not all – SUVs will have the capacity to carry a minimum of five passengers, and there are mid-sized plus large models that include 3rd-row seating – and this can increase the capacity of the SUV to carry six to eight passengers. Keep in mind, however, that many SUVs with three rows will have limited space for cargo once the seats are up. This is because most seats on the third row can be folded flat, which opens up more luggage or cargo space.

3. 2WD versus 4WD versus AWD


All car-based SUVs use a front-driving platform and are AWD (all-wheel-drive). However, those based on trucks often have a rear-driving configuration, and they are available in 4WD (4-wheel drive) configurations – and some will have this permanently.

4WD and AWD give all the wheels power, but despite the similar name, they have some slight differences you should take note of. For instance, AWD is a system with a lighter duty that can stay engaged permanently or route the power from the rear and front wheels whenever you need them. In addition, some new systems allow you to adjust via the locks or driving modes. It is why AWD is often used when you are trying to tackle dirt roads or when the weather is adverse.

Believe it or not, it is rare to see SUVs with traditional 4-wheel drives – they can be found with robust gears to be able to tackle rough terrain instead. So when looking for an SUV with 4WD, look for a system that engages whenever there are unique road conditions. If you will be driving permanently on a paved surface without ice or snow, it is best to have a 2-wheel drive model – you can probably save more on the price and take advantage of improved fuel economy.

4. Safety features and technologies


All vehicle owners should look for these – AEB (automatic emergency brakes which can also detect pedestrians, FCW (forward collision warning), and BSW (blind spot warning) – these are all technologies that can prevent crashes, so the next SUV you purchase – whether new or used – should have these as a standard.

You can even look for other technologies and advancements that warn you in terms of safety, such as telematics systems which can tell staff if there is an incident of a deployed airbag, a lane departure system that sounds an alarm if a driver swaps lanes while not using a signal, lane keeping assistance that maintains the position of a vehicle in case a driver begins to drift, and a rear-cross traffic warning signal that monitors a vehicles’ sides when a driver backs out of parking.

You can also decide between new and used SUVs, but remember to factor in the cost of depreciation when buying new, and your focus, above all, should be on performance, reliability, and a comfortable driving experience.