Choosing an SUV

There are a ton of great-looking vehicles on the market that will get you where you’re going in style while keeping you safe and saving you money on gas. And while cars, trucks, and other vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, there’s one type of vehicle that you may want to consider especially carefully— the SUV.

SUVs or “sport utility vehicles,” took the world by storm when they first emerged, and they quickly gained a reputation that was both good and bad. SUVs were supposed to be attractive but huge, and safe but gas-guzzling. And, for a while, they kind of were. But that was then, and this is now. Here’s why SUVs should be back on your radar, and how to choose the best SUV for you.

The brave new world of SUVs

SUVs were like nothing else on the road when they came out. They are as big as trucks, with as much seating as a minivan, and with safety features and all-terrain handling that put both those other categories to shame. SUVs quickly became favorites among the sporting set, the parenting set, and everyone in between.

But early SUVs had their downsides, too. They were big, bold vehicles, and they went through gas like nobody’s business. In our more enlightened modern era of hybrids and green energy, is there still room for the SUV?

In a word: yes. SUVs are different than they once were. They come in different sizes and styles. They’re more fuel-efficient, and some even boast hybrid engines or the ability to take alternative fuels. SUVs have changed the things that folks didn’t like about them, and they’re retained the good things — like all of that seating and that incredible all-terrain, all-weather handling — that have long set them apart from those other types of vehicles.

An SUV just might make the perfect choice for your next vehicle, but which one?

Choosing the best SUV for your needs

Which SUV is right for you will depend, of course, on what you intend to do with it.

Any smart car-buying experience begins with making a budget. Figure out how much debt you can afford to take out and how much cash you have on hand to make a down-payment. Or, if you have the right amount, buy an SUV outright for cash. Next, list your deal-breakers. Know how many seats you need, for instance, and make a note of how you prioritize things like fuel efficiency and safety.

Next, know your types of SUVs. Vehicles from the same manufacturer may share the same “platform” or the same construction techniques. Individual models of SUVs tend to be related in this way to models of either cars or trucks. “Car-based” SUVs are going to be your smaller, crossover-type vehicles whereas “truck-based” ones are going to be bigger and heavier. Be sure to also familiarize yourself with the subsets of SUVs within these two major types, such as small, compact, and midsize SUVs.

Now it’s time to check out individual models. With your budget, category, and other priorities in mind, check out lists of the best SUVs and read reviews. Head to dealerships and take some test-drives. Since you’ve already narrowed down your options by category, this won’t take long — and should actually be a kind of fun experience.

When you finally choose your SUV, you’ll know you’ve gotten the right one. Do your research and get the right ride that best fits your needs.

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