Sport Utility Vehicles are a popular choice of vehicle for many drivers, especially families with children. They offer the height, space, and ground clearance of a truck but with the comfort and convenience of a car.
However, if you’re considering buying an SUV, mainly if you are a new driver or used to driving a smaller car, there are some things you should know.
Although SUVs are popular, they are also one of the more challenging vehicles to drive.
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1. Difficult to Maneuver Through Tight Spaces
One of the biggest reasons SUVs are more challenging to drive than other vehicles is that they can be difficult to maneuver through tight spaces.
Today’s SUVs are bigger and heavier than most cars and even some trucks. If you’ve seen an SUV driver trying to squeeze in between two vehicles in a parking lot, then you know what I mean.
SUVs are generally easier to drive when accelerating out of a corner or passing on the highway or open road than in confined spaces.
However, when it comes to tight turns and parking maneuvers, the bulkier design of these vehicles makes them harder to maneuver. Their smaller front and rear visual field contribute to this, making them less manageable.
These factors are based upon an SUV’s larger wheels, extended lengths, and greater size than standard cars.
Ultimately, SUVs take up more space than most other vehicles. This means you’re less likely to fit into tight spaces like parking lots, driveways, and roads when driving one.
2. A Higher Center of Gravity Reduces Handling
Theoretically, the center of gravity is the location in an object’s body where all of its mass is believed to be focused.
When manufacturing a car, keeping in mind the center of gravity is crucial because it forecasts how a moving object will respond to gravity itself.
An approach to view gravity is a power that pulls an object downwards. More specifically, it pulls it down toward the Earth’s center.
When something is tall and imbalanced, it can occasionally collapse over and turn over due to gravity. Therefore, the higher the center of gravity a vehicle has, the less stable it will be.
In the case of an SUV, we say they have a higher center of gravity because they are most commonly taller than other vehicles.
As a result, their handling is not as good as other cars like sedans, especially at high speeds.
If you want to turn sharply while going fast, it will be much more complicated than doing so in another vehicle, like a sedan or hatchback.
This can also explain why SUVs commonly experience rollovers in the worst-case scenario. However, this isn’t necessarily a flaw with the vehicle itself but rather an inherent problem with the SUV design.
If you’re considering purchasing a hybrid SUV, there are some common issues that users have experienced that you should know about. Take a look at our article about problems with hybrid SUVs.
3. Larger Blind Spots Than Other Cars
As a driver’s field of vision narrows, the more challenging driving will become.
Due to their larger bodies, SUVs suffer from having bigger blind zones both in the front and rear of the vehicle than that of other car types.
The front blind zone of an SUV has been determined to be around 5 and 10 feet, which is roughly three times greater than that of a sedan.
While the rear blind zone can be anywhere between 13 and 29 feet depending on the drivers’ height, many SUVs are fit with reverse cameras to assist drivers needing to know what’s behind them.
Nonetheless, you can’t rely on this camera while you’re driving on the road. That’s why it’s imperative to be aware of your blind spots and their size when driving an SUV.
Today most SUVs offer Blind Spot Detection to address the blind spot problems in these vehicles.
Sensors mounted on the back of the vehicle or on the side mirrors are used to identify other cars when they appear around you. The detectors then make a sound or display a caution warning on your dash if they detect a vehicle nearby.
Monitoring your blind spots is a great way to be safe. Utilizing tools such as Blind Spot Detection, which produces audible or visible warnings, you can avoid colliding with another car if you pay attention to them.
4. Less Nimble During Emergencies
SUVs have a bigger turning radius and higher center of gravity than cars, which means that they’re harder to control when making quick maneuvers.
Keep in mind that an SUV is not designed to endure sudden movements – you should steer gradually to prevent rolling over.
Rollovers can occur quickly when traveling at high speeds with sudden movements upon the steering wheel.
However, this is largely preventable by traveling a bit slower, which is particularly crucial near corners, where the most rollover risk lies.
Therefore, it’s harder to maneuver quickly out of the way of an accident or other sudden problems that may arise on the road.
When driving an SUV, ensure you travel at an average speed and avoid making any unexpected moves on the road, even in an emergency.
However, there are several ways in which SUVs are safer than other cars. Take a look at our article about why SUVs are safer than minivans and sedans.
5. A Heavier Storage Load Makes Driving More Difficult
SUVs are built to be space efficient, and they’re often purchased for this reason. The vehicle offers drivers extra space to accommodate additional passengers or to be used for extra storage.
You’ll discover that when your SUV is hauling more weight in the form of passengers or storage than usual will genuinely feel as though it is exerting more effort and power to move.
This is so because heavier objects ensure more rub between the wheels and the ground.
The outcome? You may need to apply more acceleration than usual to get the SUV moving and keep it moving consistently.
While the added weight will not only take you a little longer to get going, it also translates into an increased amount of time it requires you to stop the vehicle.
To explain this, take this facet into consideration – by the time your car is moving at your desired speed, it carries far greater weight, increasing the rate you’re traveling (mainly downhill).
Therefore, when your SUV is fully loaded with extra weight, use additional caution when using the accelerator and brake.
Be aware that when traveling up a hill, you’ll be required to accelerate more. But when traveling downhill, you’ll need to use the brake more than usual.
6. SUVs Take Longer To Come to a Stop
When you press on the brake pedal, it pushes the brake pad against the rotor to slow down the rotation of your wheels.
The larger your vehicle is, the more distance it takes for your wheels to stop spinning.
However, this does not mean that SUVs are dangerous or less safe than other vehicles. It is simply a matter of physics.
SUVs often weigh more and are larger than smaller vehicles. As a result, they require a longer stopping distance than a typical car moving at a similar speed.
When driving an SUV, you must consider this and allow more space for stopping.
Ideally, you want to ensure that you leave at least a car’s length between you and the vehicle ahead and exercise particular caution when driving on wet roads.
Wet roads mean that you must maintain a greater distance than usual from the car ahead of you because a greater risk of sliding and colliding with another vehicle exists.
7. Ride Height Can Make It Difficult To See Nearby Obstacles
Due to the SUV’s height and superior ground clearance, drivers can better see what’s around them and further down the road.
While smaller cars are lower to the ground, their visibility to see further down the road is impaired, but when it comes to seeing what’s directly in front or behind them, there is no problem.
However, when looking at an SUV’s lower level of visibility (i.e., what is directly in front or behind the vehicle), it’s significantly less than a smaller car would have. This is primarily due to the vehicle’s height and raised seating position.
As a result, it can be challenging for SUV drivers to see objects and people closer to the ground.
This poses a risk because if children or animals are near the vehicle, an SUV driver may find themselves unaware and accidentally hit them without realizing they were even there.
Every SUV driver should take extra precautions concerning their immediate surroundings before starting the vehicle because if they don’t, it could be fatal for a young child or a cherished family pet.