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What is an SUV?

SUVs, otherwise known as Sports Utility Vehicles, are amongst the most popular body types in the UK. But what are they, and are they right for you?

Auto Trader

Words by: Auto Trader

Published on 28 September 2021 | 0 min read

If you’re looking for a new car, you’ve probably heard the term ‘SUV’, but what does it mean and why do you need to understand it? Rest assured, this article will bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about SUVs.

What is an SUV?

‘SUV’ is automotive jargon that stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. It refers to a type of car that sits high up, off the ground, and often has four-wheel drive and sturdy styling. An SUV is also typically tall with lots of interior space and is generally built with mechanical parts that are specially designed for rugged use.

What is the difference between SUVs, MUVs and crossovers?

Put simply, the terms ‘crossover’ and ‘SUV’ are pretty much interchangeable. It depends on the preference of the manufacturer as to how they describe these cars. In some cases, crossovers are slightly lower and smaller and may not always have four-wheel drive. In fact, many crossovers aren’t available with four-wheel drive at all, whereas traditional SUVs more frequently have it as standard, or at least as an option.
MUVs differ from SUVs are they are derived from the line of passenger minivans, whilst SUVs are improvements on the sturdy design of a truck. An MUV or Multi-Utility Vehicle is a spacious car used to carry at least five to six people. SUVs are more lightweight cars, effectively designed for adventures and equipped to tackle most rough outdoor terrains.

Are SUVs good family cars?

The four-wheel drive feature on SUVs allows for better performance in icy weather. This accompanied by high driving position and spacious interiors can make SUVs particularly attractive to families. The raised suspension and higher seats can make access easier for both people with mobility problems and putting children safely into their seats.
Here's our list of the best family cars.

Which is the best SUV?

SUVs come in all shapes and sizes, for more help picking the best one for your needs, take a look at our ‘best of’ articles, to read up on the best small SUVs, medium SUVs, large SUVs, electric SUVs and seven seater SUVs.