SUV Alternatives: What Are My Options?
You may think your ideal vehicle is an SUV because you want features such as lots of cargo space, extra seating, towing capacity or four-wheel drive. But you may be deterred from purchasing giant SUVs by issues like poor fuel economy, a large price tag and difficulty maneuvering in smaller spaces, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB). So what do you do if you want more space but can’t manage an SUV?
Look for an alternative. SUV alternatives can include anything from a minivan to a crossover or wagon. These may not give you all the features you get in a full-size SUV, but they all have their advantages over traditional sedans and coupes. To help determine which vehicle is right for you, you may want to consider the features of the following styles:
Minivans offer a lot of benefits for those looking for more space and fuel economy. Consumer Reports notes that even though minivans don’t always have an eye-catching look, they are roomy, flexible and cost-effective. They can offer as much seating as a large SUV with easier access through sliding doors and a lowered floor. Consumer Reports suggests minivans are a viable SUV alternative for any family or commercial use requiring capacity, comfort and cargo space.
Other advantages of minivans over SUVs, according to the Edmunds minivan guide, include:
- Safety: The latest minivans are tested to the extremes and are some of the safest cars available because, according to the Boston Globe, they have a low center of gravity and crumple zones so they are less likely to roll than an SUV and can absorb the impact of a crash.
- Flexible Seating: Minivans don’t only offer three rows, but the seats in the middle row can generally be folded or moved to accommodate a variety of needs.
- Interior Space: Most minivans can fit seven or eight passengers comfortably and are built to allow enough free space to move around and between seats.
- All-Wheel Drive: Although minivans don’t usually have four-wheel-drive, they do generally have all-wheel drive, which may be a viable option.
- Cost: Minivans generally have lower costs for purchase and maintenance in addition to better fuel economy than SUVs.
If a minivan just isn’t for you, crossovers are another SUV alternative option that can provide more space, better fuel economy and popular style. Edmunds’ crossover guide explains that crossovers look similar to an SUV, but handle more like a car. They are built on passenger-car chassis instead of truck platforms to create a smoother ride. Plus, many of these vehicles (also called midsize SUVs) offer third-row seating and light-duty four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive as options.
While crossovers aren’t quite as roomy as SUVs or minivans, according to Kelly Blue Book’s list of best crossovers, they work well in bad weather because of their higher ground clearance than minivans. KBB also notes they offer more efficiency, better handling, a taller position and greater maneuverability.
Wagons nowadays aren’t quite what they used to be. Station wagons were once the vehicle used for family road trips and, much like minivans, didn’t have the most stylish look. The wagons of today still bring the same advantages of the originals, but usually offer more features. As explained by Edmunds’ car buying guide, wagons can offer the comfort and ride of a sedan with the option of third-row seating. Wagons may also get better gas mileage, have greater passenger room, and can go faster than crossovers, according to Car and Driver.
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal says other benefits of a wagon may include:
- Lower center of gravity so the vehicle handles better than an SUV or crossover
- Greater value for the cost up front compared to SUVs
- Handling like a sedan, but with more room for passengers or cargo
Between minivans, crossovers and wagons, one of these SUV alternatives may have all the features you’re looking for. To figure out which one is the best option for you, you may want to visit a local dealer and give each one a test drive.