The suspension of an SUV is important as it will absorb the various bumps along the road. When you want a smoother ride, you’ll have to look at what has been done to the suspension of the SUV.
More importantly, you’ll want to find out if an SUV has better suspension and a smoother ride than other vehicles.
Do SUVs have Smoother and better Suspension?
SUVs often have better and stronger suspensions, and crossovers will have smoother suspensions because they are based on a car platform. Those based on a truck platform will be stiffer, creating a rougher ride.
Are SUVs Generally Smoother to Ride Than Cars?
SUVs have the potential to ride just as smoothly as cars. It all depends on the size of the SUV that you are comparing to a car.
Subcompact and compact SUVs along with crossovers are built on the same platform as a car. As such, they are going to have similar suspension systems. In many instances, the weight of the vehicle doesn’t even vary that much.
Larger SUVs, including those with three rows, are often built on a truck platform. They will have a tighter suspension, leading to a rougher ride.
This also makes the really big SUVs great in snow.
Sedans will provide a smooth ride on highways and city roads.
SUVs will typically have larger wheels than a sedan. If you are going to go on a long drive or be on broken/bad roads, SUVs may be better equipped.
Many manufacturers will test the suspension of SUVs more heavily than they will of cars.
The reason is that it is just assumed that cars will provide a smooth ride no matter what.
With more testing comes the possibility that SUVs can be smoother. And many are equipped for off-roading and rough terrain.
As such, to determine if an SUV is smoother than a car, you’ll want to consider a few factors:
- The individual specs of the SUV and car you want to compare
- The terrain you will be driving on
- The speed at which you will be traveling
Often, it comes down to if either vehicle has been modified to help or hinder the smoothness of the ride.
Do SUVs Have Other Types of Suspension?
There are a few different types of suspension found in vehicles.
Front-end suspension systems are the most common on passenger cars and light trucks. Depending on the model, it might be a conventional coil spring, a torsion bar, or a MacPherson Strut system.
Struts are more common for import vehicles as some of the newer domestic vehicles on the market.
Many full-sized vehicles (and smaller SUVs) will use a torsion bar or a coil system.
The suspension systems work in the same way – they maintain proper wheel alignment, absorb shocks, and help the vehicle connect properly with the road.
How they accomplish the suspension is what differs.
Coil springs support the weight of the vehicle and control impact using spring weight. The torsion bar system supports the weight of the vehicle by allowing the bar to twist back and forth.
Meanwhile, struts combine the shock absorber, coil spring, and axis pivot into a single strut assembly.
There are also rear suspension systems, which are common with rear-wheel drive vehicles on the road.
The Chevy Tahoe and Suburban are well-known for having this type of suspension, primarily because of their larger size.
Leaf Spring & Coil Suspensions
Leaf spring and coil spring suspension are used. The only difference is that the rear wheels won’ pivot. Control arms are eliminated with a leaf spring system.
And with a coil spring system, the coils are found in the axle housing underneath the vehicle.
Many newer model SUVs also have air suspension.
This is powered by either a compressor or an electric pump that will pump air into flexible bellows.
SUVs with this type of suspension are commonly known for providing smoother rides – and the air suspension is adjustable so that you can determine what works best for you.
Some models with air suspension include the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Mercedes-Benz GLS450.
Do SUVs Typically Have Softer or Stiffer Suspensions?
Typically, SUVs have softer suspensions – but it depends on the platform.
There are four different categories of SUVs:
- and full-size.
Subcompact and compact SUVs are often those with softer suspensions because they have the same platform as a car.
Midsize and full-size SUVs have stiffer suspensions because they are on the same platform as a truck.
While this is the general rule, it depends on the make and model of the SUV. Some models are built differently in order to provide better suspension.
Does the Higher Clearance Mean a Smoother Ride?
Higher clearance is often one of the factors that can contribute to a smoother ride. However, it is not always a guarantee that it is capable of being smoother. You will still need to consider the shock absorbers and other components of the vehicle’s suspension.
Higher clearance will ensure that the undercarriage of the SUV doesn’t scrape against obstacles on the road. It can also give the vehicle more room to absorb any shocks from the road.
Raising the clearance helps the suspension just as lowering the clearance can hurt the suspension. Lowering an SUV (or car or truck) can cause the tire to rub on the body when taking turns and going over bumps.
It’s also closer to the ground, so you’re likely to feel the rougher terrain as you drive. And, sometimes, an SUV can be harder to drive.
There are a few ways that you can gain higher clearance in an SUV.
Depending on the SUV you’re shopping for, there may even be some of these available in higher trim levels.
#1 Larger tires.
If you go from 18-inch to 20-inch tires, you gain two inches of ground clearance. It can help to absorb more of the bumps in the road. Be cautious, though, as tires that are too large can limit the turning radius, which will have a negative impact on the way the SUV handles.
#2 Install spacers.
Coil spring spacers can be installed on a spring suspension system. They are pieces of rubber that sit between the coils. It reduces the amount that the coils can expand and contract. The ground clearance will be minimal, but it may be just enough to smooth out the ride.
#3 Add a lift kit.
Suspension lift kits can increase ground clearance by 2 or 3 inches. If you’re planning on traversing over tall obstacles, this will create a smoother ride.
Take the time to do your homework to determine how much you will want to increase the clearance so that you can smooth out your ride.
What are the SUVs with the Most Comfortable Suspension?
SUVs have improved dramatically in the past few years. More manufacturers are putting more thought into the suspension so that there’s a smoother ride.
Seat construction, shocks, and more enhanced suspensions have been considered. Some manufacturers have even explored insulation to create a quieter ride.
Comfortable suspension means that you shouldn’t feel every bump in the road. It should also deliver confidence in the way it handles.
You don’t want the suspension so tight that it feels like you have to lean heavily into every turn. You also don’t want it so light that it feels as though the tires are never firmly planted on the road.
As such, you have to find a balance.
Smaller SUVs and crossovers are based on car platforms that can automatically provide smoother rides.
Three-row SUVs have come a long way, and some manufacturers have focused on suspension for comfort. A good example of a smaller SUV with 3-rd seating is the RAV4.
There are a few SUVs that make the cut for being identified as “the most comfortable” in terms of suspension:
- Kia Telluride
- Hyundai Palisade
- Honda Pilot
- Chevy Suburban
- Ford Expedition
You’ll notice that there are both car-based and truck-based SUVs on the list.
Often, it comes down to the test drive so that you can determine if the suspension and handling are comfortable for you.
With so many models of SUVs on the market, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones have the kind of suspension you want.
If you’re going to be driving on rough terrain or even off-roading, consider buying a vehicle with upgraded suspension features. These can be add-ons from the dealer or modifications that you can make on your own.
Take the time to do some research. Narrow down the possibilities based on the kind of SUV you want – two rows versus three rows, towing capacity, and more. This will direct you toward whether you are going to get an SUV with a car platform or a truck platform.
Truck platforms will require you to explore suspension more fully as they can be hit or miss in terms of offering a smooth ride.