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The general market trend is skewed towards SUVs and crossovers, but hey, do you really have a need for them? Or are you just blindly snatching them up?

28 Jun 2021

Just how many SUVs do you see on the road this days? In fact, scratch that, just how much of the new car lineup these days are made up of SUVs? You get what I mean, whether you are walking along the road, or browsing for the latest car models online, everywhere is filled with SUVs and the likes.

Are SUVs really such a perfect fit for everyone's lifestyle, or is it just a mindless trend following? Well, let's look at some of the most important factors when deciding a car to buy, and see whether SUVs really fit the bill.

Think an 'coupe SUV' is sleek? Wait till you hear of stationwagons
Style is subjective, so there probably wouldn't be a clear answer on this point. SUVs with their large and lifted bodies are able to pull off a rugged, off-road worthy and utilitarian look. If you are one that adores such a look, there's no doubt that SUVs would be the definite choice.

I don’t know about you, but if I wanted something sleek and sporty, I'll opt for a coupe, not any of those 'coupe-like SUVs' which really doesn't scratch that itch. In fact if I wanted something that isn't huge and rugged, I'll go for sedans, hatchbacks and stationwagons instead. At least these tend to be sleeker.
Ground clearance

All that ground clearance on an SUV won't be of much use in urbanised Singapore
The raised body with an increased ground clearance that SUVs offer can come in handy when going off-road.
However, being in an urbanised city-state like Singapore, the chances of one having to drive on off-road terrains is next to nothing. So, really, there isn't any need for ground clearance - any car can handle the humps and carpark ramps here, you don't need an SUV for that.

While you can argue that the extra clearance means you have no need to worry about scratching your bumper on a kerb, I'll counter that the reduced visibility from the ride height will make dodging kerbs a more challenging task.

You said you need cargo space? Why not get a stationwagon?
Although SUVs tend to be huge in size - even crossovers tend to be larger than hatchbacks of the same class, they don't really offer a boatload of space inside. Much of the bulk seems to be contributed by the plastic cladding and the generally bulky design of the exterior sheetmetal.

Have you ever taken a closer look at those seven-seater SUVs? If people hauling capacity is of importance, you will surely fare better with one of those boxy MPVs instead.

When it comes to cargo space, stationwagons have to be the champions. Just look at cars like the Octavia Combi and its 640-litre boot space that expands to 1,700 litres!
Ease of driving

Can you really say it with a straight face that huge SUVs are easy to drive?
Ask any inexperienced driver to get behind the wheel of a towering SUV, I'm fairly certain that he will feel stressed. Trust me, my first time driving an SUV got me rather anxious - the large body and raised ride height equates to larger blind spots and subpar manoeuvrability within confined areas.

Additionally, SUVs with their large body, tend to be heavier than other cars. This leads to subpar fuel economy. And on the ones that are equipped with less powerful engines, acceleration can be lacking as well.

When it comes to ease of driving, nothing tops a small, compact car. That said even if you need a car of a certain size, there really isn't any reason to make your own life difficult by opting for a lifted ride - eyeing a crossover? Why not consider a hatchback? Eyeing an SUV? Wouldn't a station wagon do almost everything, sans the ride height?
Comfort and ease of ingress/egress

You won't be getting ample headroom with those 'SUV coupes'
If you have ever tried getting in and out of a low-slung supercar, you would know how difficult it is. This is where SUVs really shine, with their tall roof and ride height, getting in and out of them is a breeze. However, if the ride height is too high, it can be difficult for children to get in and out of the car, so that's something to consider.

The tall ride height of SUVs also tends to result in more bodyroll due to a higher centre of gravity. This issue is commonly resolved with stiffer suspensions, affecting ride comfort.
Ease of cargo loading

Do you still think you need an SUV?
SUVs have a rear hatch and flat boot floor that makes it easy to load bulky objects. However, the tall ride height results in a loading aperture that sits a tad high.

That's why my favourite type of cars when it comes to loading bulky cargoes are hatchbacks and stationwagons. Due to their lower height, and rear hatch, it is as simple as loading something into a van - perfect.
If not SUV, then what?

By now, you should've realised that almost every benefit that an SUV offer, can be achieved with either a hatchback or a stationwagon. The only major difference being their ride height, which really does nothing much other than hinder our ability to navigate tight areas such as multi-storey carparks.

So, before you go out and purchase an SUV or a crossover, why not consider a stationwagon or a hatchback?
Convinced that what you need isn't another SUV? Check out all the latest MPV, station wagons and hatchbacks available in the market now!

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