Is the SUV a Dying Breed?

In every industry, there will always be new trends and innovations. The automobile landscape certainly looks different than it did 10 years ago. So, what does that mean for SUVs? With hybrids and even electric vehicles gaining in popularity over the past decade, you would think that SUVs would be on the verge of dying. However, that’s simply not true. In fact, SUVs are doing quite well, and it looks like they’ll be around for a while to come. Let’s take a look at the trends and why people are still opting in for SUVs.

A Look at the Numbers

Before we consider personal preferences, it’s worth taking a look at the hard, quantifiable numbers. As this breakdown from the Wall Street Journal shows, SUVs have actually been selling better than cars lately. In the past few year, the gap in sales between cars and “light trucks” (which includes SUVs) has widened considerably. In the past year, while car sales have dropped, sales of most SUVs–midsize, large, and luxury–have improved.

Why Drivers Choose SUVs Over Cars

It’s easy to understand why so many people are choosing to get behind the wheel of an SUV rather than a sedan. They’re a great “midpoint” vehicle, offering more space than cars and better mileage than trucks. For example, while the Ford Focus has up to 24 cubic feet of trunk space, the Escape has 34 cubic feet of trunk space. With the seats down, it 45 cubic feet in Focus and 68 in the Escape. That’s plenty more room for groceries, camping trips, and sports equipment. Even without extra cargo, SUVs just feel more comfortable to many drivers.

It’s not just a matter of size. For those who live in areas that get snow in the winter, SUVs offer better handling, especially with a four-wheel drive option. SUVs also offer the durability of a truck without the loss in fuel efficiency. They have better towing capacity than cars, and they’re safer than cars in front-end crashes, which is the leading cause of automobile fatalities. In short, people feel safer behind the wheel of an SUV because they really are safer.

The Future of SUVs

As the automobile industry undergoes changes, so will SUVs. Just as we’re beginning to see electric cars hit the roads, you can bet that we’ll eventually be seeing electric SUVs, too. Although the difference in fuel efficiency between cars and SUVs is already becoming negligible, someday it might not even matter at all. At some point, drivers will be able to make their decision based on how much space they think they’ll need.

One change we’re already seeing is the emergence of a new form factor: the crossover. Just as the SUV was introduced as a midpoint between cars and trucks, the crossover falls somewhere between the car and SUV, giving drivers yet another option in terms of how much space they need in their vehicle. If anything, this shows that drivers are becoming more concerned with how much carrying capacity their car has. In the end, as long as people are driving, the SUV–and form factors like it–will never die out, because it meets timeless needs of space and durability.

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