SUVs are the cars that drivers love to hate and hate to love


Some car firms, such as Kia, have an entire range of SUVs (Picture Kia Motors)

On the face of it, drivers might say they hate SUVs. But actually, many of us secretly want to own one. More than half of people (54 per cent) claim SUV or Sport Utility Vehicle drivers are the most annoying on the road.

Despite this, chunky, high-riding off-road style motors – sometimes called crossovers or dual-purpose cars – have a certain appeal. More than a third (35 per cent) of drivers are attracted by the thought of owning one. And sales of new SUVs have bucked the market trend by exceeding record-breaking 2017 levels so far in 2018.

Why drivers DON’T like SUVs?

According to a study by car sales firm OSV Ltd, people think SUV drivers are more likely to hog the road. Nearly half (42 per cent) of those surveyed said SUV drivers don’t allow other road users room to pass. A third (33 per cent) said SUV owners were irritating because they parked inconsiderately, taking up more than one space with their car. And almost as many (31 per cent) blamed SUV drivers for sticking unnecessarily to one lane on motorways when they could move out of the way.

What the real problem is

It’s actually driver behaviour rather than the cars themselves that people are claiming to dislike. OSV director Andrew Kirkley explained: “A huge number of people – half of all drivers! – are vocal in their dislike of SUVs. However, I think the real truth is people don’t actually dislike the SUVs; they dislike the way that many people drive them. Because the vehicles are big and can sometimes appear unwieldy, in crowded city areas SUV drivers can seem inconsiderate.”

Why drivers DO like SUVs?

As we’ve seen, status is the most important draw of the SUV. For a quarter of drivers (26 per cent) it’s about how SUVs look. Only one in five drivers buys an SUV for the way they drive. Andrew Kirkley added: “Because the vehicles are at the more expensive end of the spectrum, they do carry a certain status, which combined with inconsiderate behaviour creates a negative impression.”

SUV sales are booming

This negative image isn’t having any detrimental effect on sales. While the number of new cars sold is down compared to 2017, the number of SUVs being produced by car makers is booming. SUV sales are on the up too. Experts estimate that more than one in every four new cars sold across Europe is now an SUV.

In the first quarter of 2018, three of the top 10 cars sold in the UK were SUVs. So far this year, the third best-selling car in Britain is Nissan’s Qashqai SUV ‑ the first time this kind of car has featured so high up the sales charts. Ford’s Kuga is sixth and Vauxhall’s Mokka X is the UK’s ninth best seller. So far in 2018, sales of SUVs are up 2.7 per cent compared to this time last year. This is significant because overall the car market is down by 12.4 per cent against the same first three months of 2017.

Why SUV sales are booming

Part of the reason is an ever-increasing line-up of SUVs available to buyers. From luxury car maker Rolls-Royce to sports car manufacturer Maserati and pretty much every firm in between, SUVs are the must-have motors for a showroom.

It might look like a delivery van but don’t be fooled by the pre-launch disguise worn by the £300,000 Rolls-Royce Cullinan (Picture Rolls-Royce)

In addition to their status, buyers love the fact that SUV ownership involves very few sacrifices. The best of the breed now combine the practicality of a people carrier with the driving manners of a hatchback. Drivers enjoy their high seating position that gives excellent visibility plus improved safety. And new engine technology means SUVs are no longer the gas guzzlers they were once considered to be.

2 comments on “SUVs are the cars that drivers love to hate and hate to love

  1. Steve Michelle 11/04/2018 6:31 AM

    This proves times are changing. Modest S U V vehicles are practical for more and more people now they are quite economical. It’s the bigger ones, the likes of B M W, who are frowned upon. I will stick to my Octavia.

  2. Eric Hayman 14/04/2018 6:01 PM

    Where is the “Sport” in an SUV? As for their image, do manufacturers deliberately design aggressive looking vehicles? Think of the Hummer. No doubt some of the size of certain SUVs comes from putting in side airbags and crush zones, but that does not explain the general bulbousness of SUVs.

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