Although I am slightly dubious about the craze for the now ubiquitous ‘crossover’ type of vehicles, which, let’s be honest, are by and large just pumped-up hatchbacks, I am becoming more convinced by the SUV class of motor.
Convinced, yes, but with the proviso that if you call cars of this type a ‘sport utility vehicle’ then it should properly be a ‘sport utility vehicle’ in that it does all that the name implies.
‘Sport’ for example, suggests healthy, possibly outdoor, activities. This means that a vehicle should be able to support such activities. For example, skiers, rock climbers and mountain bikers need to get to inaccessible places and kit and bikes need to be transported, often over difficult terrain. Surfers need to carry boards, sleeping bags and towels to the beach and have somewhere to stash those curious hand-rolled Woodbines that they seem to like. In short, an SUV has to cope and must therefore have four-wheel drive.
‘Utility’ suggests a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ approach. Many children to transport to school safely in all weathers? Need to go to the tip or transport a household item? The SUV fits the bill but not if the boot is only about the size of a shopping basket. Seats must fold variously to fit awkward objects for the DIY enthusiast (whoever he is). Overweight Labrador dogs must be accommodated in comfort so that they can be driven up and down motorways. In short, it has to do all the family chores and do it well.
‘Vehicle’. It has to be a car in the regular sense of the word. A Hummer is not a SUV and is not welcome in Cotswold villages. It may not be a pick-up because, although definitely a utility vehicle and in many ways great fun, you will be constantly bothered by passers-by who need a reliable builder, particularly in the Cotswolds. Similarly those of you with deep pockets don’t want the Bentley Bentayga because people in need of a cab will be hailing you from the kerb. You have to think it through.
So choose that SUV carefully. Looks don’t matter because, except for a few prestige models, they all look the same anyway. It must be solid, roomy and dependable yet good to drive and most importantly be capable of doing all the jobs that life, lifestyle and family demand. If it can’t take a muddy bike or handle a rough-hewn track, it is not an SUV. If you can’t get a refrigerator in the back or even backpacks in the back then it’s not an SUV.
There’s plenty of choice, both new and used. I have my favourites, you’ll have yours, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. As long as the standards are met then an SUV makes a great choice. Geoff Maxted