The sports utility vehicle or SUV is a relatively new type of vehicle on the market. Here are four things you should know before you buy an SUV. We’ll address how each of these factors affects the performance of the vehicle and who should seek these options in a sports utility vehicle.

The Definition of a Crossover SUV

A sports utility vehicle is a car built on a truck body. It originated in the United States as a way to offer a vehicle that didn’t have to meet increasing fuel efficiency standards. The first sports utility vehicles could be compared to trucks, though they often had better amenities and extra rows of seats.

Crossover SUVs combine the car-truck design features to give you handling closer to that of a car, though many have the engine power and towing capacity of trucks. However, you should always check the load an SUV can pull before you assume you can use it to pull a loaded trailer.

Your Choices on Size

Like cars, an SUV can come in a variety of sizes. Crossover SUVs tend to be smaller than conventional SUVs. Conversely, conventional SUVs are more likely to let you carry the whole family, all your camping gear, and tow a fully loaded trailer, as well.

All SUVs are more susceptible to roll-over accidents than conventional cars, but cross-over SUVs have a lower risk of rolling compared to standard SUVs. Stopping distance depends on the size and weight of the vehicle; a smaller SUV like a used Mazda CX-3 will stop almost as fast as a similarly sized car. Conversely, their higher distance off the ground and durable truck frames make them safer for your family in an accident.

The size of the vehicle doesn’t impact safety features and the amenities it may come with. Safety features like antilock brakes, lane departure warning systems, and antilock brakes depend on the price of the vehicle, not its size.

The Pumps

You can get sports utility vehicles with four-cylinder, six-cylinder, and eight-cylinder models. Power is related to the number of cylinders and increasing the pump count reduces your fuel efficiency. If you will be driving off-road or pulling a lot of weight, you want more cylinders. If you’ll be using the SUV on the highway or mostly for long distance driving, consider an SUV with fewer cylinders and better fuel efficiency. If you aren’t sure how you’ll be using the vehicle or alternate between hauling kids, groceries, and cargo off the back with off-road excursions, you need six cylinders at a minimum.

2WD Versus 4WD

SUVs come in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models. Two-wheel drive uses less fuel and is easier to maintain, while four-wheel drive means you’re less likely to be stuck in a rut, literally. Two-wheel drive works fine if you limit driving to the city streets. Four-wheel drive is essential if off-roading and is very useful if you’re driving on rough pavement, slick streets, or muddy terrain.

An SUV can be a great choice depending on your needs. But, before you decide on one, make sure that it fits your needs when it comes to fuel consumption, power, and performance. Choosing an SUV too big for your budget or not strong enough for your terrain could end up in disappointment and one too many visits to the serviceman.