Your car is bursting at the seams with children, sports equipment, groceries and pets. You think it may be time to trade up to a larger car. But is an SUV the right choice to make for your family?
First and foremost, as anyone who watches the evening news knows, the price of gas has skyrocketed and SUVs are notorious for poor gas mileage. Or are they?
Depending on what make and model of SUV you choose, some get as good or better gas mileage than some large cars. For example, the 2004 Honda Element gets 22 miles to the gallon in the city, just 2 miles per gallon less than the 2004 Honda Accord. At highway speeds, the Element gets 8 miles per gallon less than the Accord, a larger, but not huge, difference Also, more and more auto manufacturers are designing hybrid gas-electric SUVs that provide better gas mileage along with the traditional extra space and power of SUVs.
Another major consideration when choosing between a car and an SUV is safety. Most people assume that, because of their larger size, that SUVs are safer than cars. However, crash tests conducted in 2003 proved that large SUVs were only slightly safer than mid-sized cars and were actually slightly more dangerous than large cars. SUVs also can roll over when taking turns at high speed, something that cars are far less likely to do. Drivers who are switching to SUVs after many years of driving cars may need some practice to learn to drive their SUV safely.
Many people think that SUVs, due to their larger size are more comfortable and have more cargo capacity than cars. To a certain extent this is true, but it depends heavily on what make and model of SUV you choose. Some SUVs actually have limited cargo space, though almost all have the power to haul a trailer. As far as comfort, many drivers prefer being higher up from the road, but older drivers and those with disabilities may have a hard time getting into the raised seats. Additionally, buckling a child into a car seat installed in the recommended back seat center position may be difficult for shorter moms and dads.
Finally, if you do a lot of city driving and, more importantly, parking, SUVs are less maneuverable and harder to parallel park than traditional cars. Even in the suburbs where most people park in lots, the spaces may not be wide enough for certain SUVs.
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