The sport utility vehicle has come a long way since its origins. It has evolved from a simple workhorse into a thoroughbred, representing both utility and class by combining the best qualities of a station wagon, truck, minivan and luxury sedan. As drivers’ needs have changed over the years, the SUV has adapted to them. It’s the reason why it’s become an indispensible mode of transportation for millions of drivers, the vehicle of choice for American families, and how the SUV has created a legacy that has lasted over 80 years with no end in sight.
The Beginnings of the SUV: Emphasis on Utility
Long before the term “sport utility vehicle” was coined, these vehicles were originally known as “suburbans” or “carryalls.” As the name indicates, you guessed it — the vehicle was meant as a practical means to carry everything, and designed to fit as many people and cargo as possible. In fact, originally their large size was developed for the specific purpose of transporting people and their luggage to and from train stations. The body of a carryall (or suburban) closely resembled a station wagon, had a wooden frame, open sides, and was built on truck chassis so it was well-equipped for commercial use.
Birth of an Era: Going Suburban
There were many early makes and models of SUVs that used the term “suburban”, but it was the release of the Chevrolet Suburban in 1935 that brought us closer to what we see today. What set the Chevy Suburban apart from these models was that it had a closed in metal body with windows, including an opening rear window for cargo access. Chevy’s Suburban paved the way for the modern day sport utility vehicle. It was civilized transportation that you could load the family into, go anywhere, and still haul anything when needed. In an SUV, adventures awaited.
Putting the “Sport” in Sport Utility Vehicle
The early decades of the SUV were big on utility, but lacked in “sport”. They were large, heavy gas-guzzling all-terrain vehicles with the towing capacity of a mega truck. Unless you lived in the country on a farm or a ranch, you might not have found much utility or purpose in your SUV except for the spaciousness and higher ride height allowing an advantageous view over coupes and sedans on the road such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The cost to fill up the gas tank just wasn’t worth the benefits large SUVs like the Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, or Toyota Sequoia had to offer to drivers in an urban environment.
City drivers wanted a commuter vehicle that didn’t break the bank to fill up, had sporty driving characteristics, functional yet elegant interiors, but still offered the space and versatility of an SUV. Falling sales of large V-8 powered SUVs and the broadening needs of drivers set the stage for a new breed of SUV that blurs the lines between SUV, sedan, station wagon, hatchback, and minivan.
Enter the SUV Crossover: The Auto Industry’s Swiss Army Knife
Crossovers borrow the best-liked and most useful features of many different vehicle types; it is essentially the automobile equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Its many advantages are the reason crossovers have gained such broad appeal. If you live in a city such as Miami, out in the suburbs of Kendall, or even in a rural area, the sports utility crossover is bound to have something that appeals to you.
Better handling and maneuverability: Crossovers drive and handle like a regular car. This is because original SUVs like the Ford Explorer were built on a truck chassis with truck components. Instead, the crossovers are built on a car-based platform giving it the ability maneuver better. When the first crossover, the Toyota RAV 4 debuted, it was on a car chassis. This method of design is still used today on the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Toyota Highlander just to name a few.
Convenient Size: We are taught to believe bigger is better. However, that’s not always true when it comes to parking your car in the crowded parking lots of Miami-Dade County and in other busy urban environments. Compact crossover models like the Kia Sorento make parking cinch.
Streamlined Aerodynamics: The rounded edges of the crossovers design give the vehicle better aerodynamics compared to the boxy design of traditional SUV. The optimized aerodynamics makes it a good vehicle option for driving the open highway.
Fuel Efficiency: Most crossovers have good gas mileage compared to their gas-sucking SUV counterpart. Better fuel efficiency means more affordable daily commuting, highway driving, and road trips. If you want to hit the road for a vacation, some of the crossovers with the best gas mileage are the BMW X3, Mazda CX-3, and Nissan Murano.
Adventure: For drivers that want to explore the great outdoors, all-wheel drive models like the Audi Q7 and Subaru Outback provide the needed traction to venture off-road. If you are looking tow a boat or haul a trailer, the BMW X6 or Ford Escape are better options.
Spacious Interiors: Typically crossovers have spacious interiors making them versatile for loading up equipment and people. You can’t go wrong with a Nissan Rogue or Honda CR-V. If you have a large family, the Mazda CX9 and Toyota Highlander have 3rd row seating providing space and comfort that will ensure nobody will have to sit on anyone’s lap.
Since the first sport utility vehicle debut in 1935, it took a while for the SUV to catch up with mainstream America, but they are more popular than ever due to the evolution of the SUV creating a new era of crossover SUVs with smaller engines, better fuel efficiency, and driving capabilities. They are the ideal vehicles for young drivers, mothers, professionals, and both city and rural drivers, delivering more practically than the traditional car.
If you are looking for used sports utility vehicles in the South Florida area, Prado Auto Sales has the best deals on used SUVs in Miami. Our selection includes both used crossovers and used SUVs in sizes that will accommodate every lifestyle whether you need a used compact SUV, used mid-sized SUV, or used full-size SUV. Start browsing our inventory here.
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