Sport utility vehicle

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
1995 Toyota RAV4 (SXA11R) Cruiser wagon (2015-07-14) 01.jpg
The Toyota RAV4 was the first SUV in Europe in 1994
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT 5.3L front 3.24.19.jpg
Porsche Cayenne Coupé S Solitude Revival 2019 IMG 1602.jpg
Porsche Cayenne Coupé , a four-door “middle class” SUV coupé ; the largest common class in Europe
VW Tiguan 2.0 TSI BlueMotion Technology 4MOTION Sound (II) - front view, December 24, 2017, Düsseldorf.jpg
VW Tiguan , a compact SUV that is mainly sold in Europe
Nissan Murano Platinum IMG 0914.jpg
Nissan Murano , a crossover according to European understanding

Sport utility vehicles, abbreviated SUV as SUVs or city SUV called, are passenger cars with increased ground clearance and a self-supporting body , which at the appearance of off-road vehicles are based. The driving comfort is similar to that of a limousine . The off-road suitability is very different from model to model , for example all-wheel drive is not available for various models. This is due to the fact that many vehicle owners use their SUV mainly or exclusively on the road . The standard tires of most SUVs are hardly or not suitable for serious off-road driving.

The use of the name SUV and the growing commercial success of this type of vehicle began in the 1990s with the Toyota RAV4 and the Land Rover Freelander . In the USA in particular, new registrations of SUVs increased from the 1990s onwards. In 1988 a total of 960,852 SUVs were sold in the USA and 2,435,301 SUVs were sold in 1997. In Germany, 3,351,607 cars were registered for the first time in 2016; 715,268 of these (21.3%) were off-road vehicles and SUVs.

Terms and designations

In US-American usage, sport utility vehicle refers to all kinds of off-road vehicles. The subclass of comfort off-road vehicles, as they are meant in the German-speaking meaning of sport utility vehicles , is called crossover SUV in English-speaking countries (meaning crossed with a car) and casually soft-roaders (about soft Major ). The English word "sport (s)" includes, unlike in German, hunting and fishing. A 'Sports Utility Vehicle' is therefore also a vehicle with which a hunter or fisherman can get to his territory through rough terrain.

If a full-size SUV is mentioned in North America , this refers to off-road vehicles according to German understanding (such as the Cadillac Escalade ). There are long versions of some of these vehicles, which are over 5 meters long in their basic form.

Models the size of a BMW X5 or a Lexus RX are called mid-size crossover SUVs .

Some automakers call for SUV as a Sport Activity Vehicle ( SAV , Sports Activity Vehicle ), to distinguish them from traditional SUVs and to the association with an operating commercial vehicles prevent (in Australia is meant by Utility Vehicle ( "Ute") a flatbed ) .

Another sub-category of the SUV is the so-called SUV coupé . These are SUVs with coupé-like lines that are intended to make the usually very bulky vehicles appear “sportier”. Since the focus is on the emotional benefit for the customer, these vehicles can also be sold at a higher price. A major contribution to the development of this vehicle class lies in China, where customers prefer an expressive and dominant design style to demonstrate their individual social advancement. For example, Mazda has been selling the CX-4 based on the CX-5 since 2016 , Škoda has been selling the Kodiaq GT based on the Kodiaq since 2018 and Volkswagen has only been selling the Teramont X based on the Teramont in China since 2019 . In this context, the first generation of the BMW X6 from 2008 is regarded as a pioneer model . Even before the X6 was presented, the SsangYong Actyon was known as the Sport-Utility-Coupé (SUC) in 2006. It wasn't until 2011 that another vehicle came onto the market with the Range Rover Evoque , which was available in a coupé variant. In contrast to most other models, this coupe actually only has two doors. In the meantime, other automobile manufacturers have also added SUV coupés in Central Europe to their model ranges (e.g. Audi Q3 Sportback , e-tron Sportback and Q8 ; Lamborghini Urus ; Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE Coupé ; BMW X2 and X4 ; Porsche Cayenne Coupé ). In the case of the SUV coupés, the distinction to the conventional SUV is blurred. Sometimes models such as the Toyota C-HR , the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross or the Tesla Model X are also referred to as SUV coupé.

In connection with the criticism of the SUV (see section Criticism ), ridiculous names have arisen in some countries:

  • Tank-like cars
  • Housewife armor
  • Suburban Assault Vehicle (USA, e.g. suburban assault vehicle )
  • Chelsea Tractor (UK)
  • Toorak Tractor (Australia; Toorak is a posh suburb of Melbourne)
  • Børstraktor (Norway, "Börsentraktor")

Differentiation from off-road vehicles

Due to the low axle articulation, the right front wheel of the SUV loses contact with the ground ...
... in an all-terrain vehicle, the axle articulation is large enough that the wheels do not lose contact with the ground

SUVs are technically similar to normal cars, but mostly have all-wheel drive, which can usually be bought in with small SUVs. The body (superstructure) of the vehicle is proportioned like that of an off-road vehicle. Typical technical differences are:

  • The transmission of an off-road vehicle has separate, particularly short-range off-road gears or (more often) a gear reduction (also referred to as off-road gear or low range) downstream of all gear stages, that of an SUV seldom. A high overall reduction ratio is advantageous in difficult terrain or when pulling heavy trailers, because it enables high propulsive forces at low speeds.
  • The maximum fording depth of an SUV is usually 200 mm to 300 mm, well below that of an off-road vehicle (often more than 700 mm).
  • Traditional off-road vehicles have rigid axles and a ladder or box frame, SUVs usually have a self-supporting body and individually suspended wheels.
  • Off-road vehicles have - at least as an option - differential locks that significantly improve their off-road capability and are therefore also installed in some SUVs in order to improve their off-road capability. SUVs usually have electronic driving aids that work via braking intervention (e.g. ABS, ESP, hill start aid )
  • Ramp and slope angles, climbing ability , abdominal and ground clearance as well as axle articulation are usually significantly greater in off-road vehicles than in SUVs.

In terms of concept, vehicles based on off-road vehicles are now assigned to the SUV category (see list below). So far, however, there has been no generally applicable, clear demarcation within this classification of all-terrain SUVs and SUVs that only look all-terrain. For the layman it is often not apparent that, for example, a BMW X5 - in contrast to a Mitsubishi Pajero - is only conditionally suitable for use due to the non-existent gear reduction, the engines and transmissions that are more designed for normal road use and the chassis, which is geared towards the best possible road driving characteristics Off-road use is, although both vehicles have a self-supporting body and independent suspension.

Soft roader

Typical representative of a soft roader: VW T-Roc

In English-speaking countries, small "sports utility vehicles" with external dimensions similar to those of lower middle-class cars are colloquially referred to as soft roaders or crossovers . Although these have optical style elements of off-road vehicles, they are only suitable for off-road use to a very limited extent. The expression is a word construction from the English terms "soft" (soft) and "Offroader" (off-road vehicle). Technically, these vehicles are usually not independent developments, but are based on passenger car platforms that were only provided with higher bodies and all-wheel drive. The technical aids required for heavy off-road use, such as mechanical differential locks and reduction gears, are usually not available for these vehicles. The focus of these vehicles is their image and visual appearance. Buyers cite a higher seating position than a car, the resulting better overview of the traffic and better accessibility as purchase arguments. The distinct disadvantages of off-road vehicles compared to passenger cars, such as higher fuel consumption, poorer driving performance or more cumbersome driving behavior, are comparatively negligible in this vehicle class.

The AMC Eagle is considered to be the founder of this type of vehicle. Until the late 1990s, it was mainly Japanese, Korean and US car manufacturers that offered vehicles of this category in Europe. Almost all manufacturers have crossovers in their range. Currently available models include the Audi Q2 , Ford Puma , Mazda CX-3 , Mitsubishi ASX , Opel Crossland X , Peugeot 2008 and VW T-Roc .


Fuel consumption and CO 2 emissions

On average, SUVs consume around a quarter more energy than medium-sized vehicles. The main reasons for this are the larger frontal area of all- terrain sedans and the higher C w value at higher speeds (from around 60 km / h) and thus their higher air resistance , their concept-related higher weight and the all-wheel drive built into some all-terrain sedans; it makes them more than 100 kg heavier and creates additional friction losses in the drive train .

A study by the International Energy Agency from 2019 determined an increase in CO 2 emissions of almost 0.55 Gt CO 2 to around 0.7 Gt CO 2 for the global fleet of SUVs over the past decade ; According to this, SUVs have made the second largest contribution to the increase in global CO 2 emissions after the energy sector since 2010 , ahead of heavy industry (including iron and steel, cement, aluminum) as well as trucks and aviation. SUVs were responsible for the entire increase in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018 amounting to 3.3 million barrels per day, while oil consumption for other vehicle types (excluding SUVs) fell slightly.

Noise emission

SUVs often have relatively wide tires. This increases air resistance, tire wear and the noise emissions generated .

Vehicle size

Compared to current car models of other vehicle classes, SUVs often have larger external dimensions and, due to their often longer wheelbase, also have a larger turning circle. These circumstances lead to problems, especially in historic old towns. But even on streets and parking lots in residential areas, which are often only the minimum required size, the often larger and less agile SUVs can lead to conflicts. In 2018, an increase in parking fees in multi-storey car parks was discussed at times because SUVs often take up more space than other cars. In addition, the size of the vehicles reduces the efficiency of road traffic.

Accident risk

An analysis of 955 impact events on vehicle restraint systems made of steel and concrete has shown that SUVs have an eightfold risk of vehicle rollover compared to conventional cars, but that they offer greatly increased protection for their own occupants in a collision with other vehicles.

Moreover SUV may be at increased risk of accidents pose to other road users: pedestrians, especially children, the risk of injury can be increased by the high vehicle front, particularly by vehicles with permitted before 2006 frontal protection . In the event of a collision with other cars, the lighter vehicle will be more severely damaged. Crash tests have shown that the crumple zones were only partially compatible in 2004.

For motorcyclists, too, taller vehicles (e.g. SUVs, off-road vehicles, vans and trucks) are generally more dangerous, as they do not slide over the vehicle roof, especially in a side impact , but instead hit the vehicle or penetrate the interior of the vehicle.

In Switzerland , there were, among others, for these reasons, since February 2007, an initiative of the local Young Green to deny re-registration and to limit the driving speed of already approved SUV to 100 km / h (SUV speed limit ). In the summer of 2011, the Young Greens withdrew their initiative and abandoned the originally requested ban on the registration of new off-road vehicles as well as the requirement for a speed limit for these vehicles - through the planned introduction of a tax in Switzerland for new vehicles with CO 2 emissions of over 130 g / km since 2015 they saw their goal achieved.

Driver characteristics

The economic and personnel psychologist Rüdiger Hossiep recognizes a “certain feeling of superiority” and “need for protection” as motives when buying an SUV. However, other motives for buying are purely practical, such as B. the need to pull up to 3.5 tons with his automobile, which can be the case, for example, with construction site vehicles or vehicles used in gardening businesses. The same professional groups often need a car that, in addition to high tractive power, offers the characteristics of driving in light to medium-difficult terrain as well as offering comfort on the road and, if necessary, covering long distances quickly and comfortably. However, some SUV drivers try to gain respect in the "increasingly harsh traffic environment" with vehicles that are usually larger than average and often aggressively designed. In other cases, a high-priced SUV is only intended to suggest social prosperity.

“These vehicles used to be something for aristocrats with a house in London and a farm in the Engadine. In the boom phase of the nineties, the rising urban bourgeoisie suddenly discovered the SUV. In the meantime, the masses are fascinated by the concept because it enables them to escape everyday life, at least in their minds. The SUV is the vehicle of escapism . And it exudes the potency with which drivers feel well equipped for any situation. [...] Whether the elevated seating position really brings something to the safety level is controversial. Cars with a high center of gravity are harder to control. [...] SUV drivers tend to drive more risky because they feel like they are sitting in a castle. "

- Paolo Tumminelli, car designer (Jan. 2012)

Resource consumption

In addition to the increased consumption of fossil fuel or electrical energy during operation, the production of the often larger and heavier SUVs also causes an increased demand for natural resources.


In 2011, the Accident Research of Insurers (UDV) examined the role of SUVs in accidents in Germany with the help of a special evaluation of the official traffic accident statistics and its own accident database. After that, SUVs were no more involved in accidents with personal injury than conventional passenger cars. However, the collisions, especially against cars, often resulted in serious injuries for those involved in the accident. In addition to the greater mass, the higher-up front structural elements, such as longitudinal members, also prevent compatibility in the event of a crash in many SUV models. A study by the Research Institute of US Auto Insurers (IIHS) over the period from 2012 to 2015 found that the risk of having a fatal accident in a large, all-wheel drive vehicle is significantly lower than in a small car.

Tax specifics in Germany

In Germany, motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 2.8 tons could previously be taxed according to weight, like trucks or other non-passenger vehicles (such as mobile homes, office vehicles or other motor vehicles). This also included many SUVs that were used like cars. The motor vehicle tax was then often only half of what would have been payable for the vehicles in the event of a displacement tax. This regulation was May 1, 2005 by an amendment to the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations abolished. Since then, all vehicles, regardless of their gross vehicle weight, have been taxed according to their primary use according to their cubic capacity or weight. The primarily intended use differentiates between passenger and goods transport, based on the usable area of ​​the vehicle available for the respective purpose as well as other structural features (partition, windows, fastening options for seats and belts, etc.). The final decision is made by the main customs office in charge, regardless of the type allocation according to the technical papers of the vehicle (entry car or truck in the registration certificate).


New registrations in Germany

The Federal Motor Transport Authority has been managing the SUV segment since 2013 . Model series with "off-road character" without the type approval M1G according to Directive 2007/46 / EC are classified in the SUV segment . The relevant model series were previously classified in the off-road vehicle segment . For figures on the annual new registrations of passenger cars in the SUV segment in Germany according to statistics from the Federal Motor Transport Authority, see SUV in the list article on new passenger car registrations in Germany .

Web links

Commons : SUVs  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: SUV  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


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