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All about SUV-Medium

Please describe what a medium SUV is.

A Medium SUV – or Sport Utility Vehicle – is a vehicle (usually a wagon or station wagon or estate) that has been designed to be more rugged, or versatile, than a passenger car.

As its name suggests, the Medium SUV sits between the Compact SUV and Large SUV segments.

In the past the term SUV used to refer to a four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) multi-terrain vehicle or off-roader. Other names for SUVs include crossover, RV (Recreational Vehicle) or four-by-four (4x4).

In some places such as North America, a Medium SUV is also known as a light truck, since all such vehicles were generally built off a light truck – or utility – platform, so hence the SUV acronym.

The ‘Sport’ part started life as a marketing adjunct to allude to a recreational, or lifestyle, element to the light truck or utility in question, rather than the mere work connotations that are normally associated with ‘trucks’ or ‘utilities’.

However, in more recent times, SUV is now a generic term for anything that is basically a wagon or station wagon or estate (i.e. passengers and cargo travel within the same enclosed space – although this isn’t strictly adhered to, as some extended-cab utility vehicles with a tray at the back can also be classed as an SUV), with at least two seats, a high seating (or H-point) position (also known as elevated seating), some ground clearance (to distinguish the SUV from a regular wagon/estate) and an air of off-road ability or ruggedness.

Today a Medium SUV does not have to have a truck-like chassis (a separate ladder frame chassis with a body-on-frame construction), with the vast majority in Australian employing a monocoque body.

What sizes are medium SUVs?

Most Medium SUVs are between about 4.5 and five metres in length, 1.7 to 1.8 metres in height, and 1.9 metres in width.

The word ‘medium’ is relative, since these dimensions are far greater than those for a medium sized passenger car.

Yet many of the car-based, or monocoque bodied rather than ladder-frame chassis Medium SUVs use medium car platforms as a starting point. The example that springs to mind immediately is the Toyota Kluger, which started life being based on the mid-sized Toyota Camry.

How many seats do medium SUVs offer?

Medium SUV seating arrangements vary, from five seats (5-seaters) to seven seats (7-seaters).

Most seven-seater Medium SUVS have three rows of seats, with the third row having a foldaway mechanism in the vast majority.

Can medium SUVs be 2WD as well as 4WD?

Lower import duty for four-wheel drive (4WD, or 4x4 four-by-four) vehicles until recently meant that the vast majority of Medium SUVs sold in Australia were 4WD, since they cost virtually the same or even less than any 2WD (two-wheel drive) variations of that particular vehicle that may have existed.

As the levy between 4WD and 2WD evaporates, Medium SUVs with the latter have gained ground.

Today most Medium SUVs are offered in rear-wheel drive (RWD) or front-wheel drive (FWD) guises, with the option of going to a part-time 4WD setting for greater off-road ability and traction.

Medium SUVs with front-wheel drive usually have a transverse mounted engine, which makes for a more space efficient and lighter package.

FWD Medium SUVs are also almost always monocoque bodied, without the heavy ladder-frame chassis of more off-road orientated 4X4s.

Are medium SUVs any good off-road?

A Medium SUV with 4WD four-wheel drive and a ladder-frame chassis (or body on frame construction) is more likely to be better off road or in the bush than ones without these – especially if they also have a high and low-range transfer case gearbox, high ground clearance, short approach angles, short rollover angles, and short departure angles.

An example of this sort of Medium SUV is the Jeep Wrangler, which has astonishingly good off-road capabilities.

A Medium SUV with 2WD two-wheel drive only is really only best suited to being driven on-road, with some mild off-road capability thrown in, like driving across shallow sand or gravel tracks. An example of this is the Ford Territory RWD.

What are the engine and transmission options in medium SUVs?

A range of engines generally power medium SUVs.

These include Medium SUVs fitted with six-cylinder (in I6 in-line six, V6 or horizontally opposed H6 six cylinder or 6-cylinder configurations), eight-cylinder (V8) petrol engines, or four-cylinder (4-cylinder) diesel or turbo-diesel engines.

Most Medium SUVs offer either a manual gearbox or an automatic gearbox option.

Some Medium SUVs also include a low-range or high-range transfer case, for improved off-road capabilities.

What are the most environmental medium SUVs?

Increasingly, Medium SUVs are adopting petrol-electric or internal combustion and a DC motor combination hybrid drivetrain.

Diesel powered Medium SUVs use less fuel than their petrol counterpart, and emit less harmful CO2 carbon dioxide pollution, but they cost more to buy, diesel fuel is often considerably more expensive than petrol fuel at the pump or bowser, and considerably more harmful NOX Nitrogen Oxide emissions are released.

If you do not intend to use your Medium SUV off-road then consider either a passenger-car based vehicle of comparable size, or make sure you buy one with a monocoque body build, rather than a vehicle with heavy ladder-frame construction and all the other 4x4 additions that much unneeded mass.

What are the benefits of medium SUVs?

If you buy a Medium SUV with a proper 4WD set-up, it will have more go-anywhere off-road capability than virtually all passenger cars available.

Medium SUVs also tend to be more rugged, or tougher, or stronger, on normal roads, as they tend to be built to withstand uneven roads or bumps and humps more easily.

Some Medium SUVs might have a better resale value than a medium or large passenger wagon equivalent.

Due to their bulk and/or weight, some occupants may feel safer in a Medium SUV, since it is less likely to crumble in an impact with a lighter vehicle.

The elevated sitting position of a Medium SUV means that many impacts – particularly side impacts – can miss the critical or more vulnerable organs in the human body – although this is not always the case.

Many Medium SUVs can carry up to seven occupants, or have large cargo or luggage carrying capacities.

Many Medium SUVs make excellent tow vehicles, and are good for towing trailers and caravans.

What are some of the disadvantages of medium SUVs?

Medium SUVs tend to cost more to buy, service and run than a medium sized passenger car equivalent such as a wagon.

Medium SUVs can use more fuel and pollute the environment with more harmful emissions than a passenger car.

Medium SUVs leave a larger, heavier footprint on our roads and off our roads as a result of their size and mass.

Medium SUVs are less likely to be able to steer or brake their way out of a precarious situation than a lighter passenger car because of the increased forces required to control the extra weight.

Many Medium SUVs – particularly those with a ladder-frame chassis rather than a monocoque body – are not as stable at higher speeds, or suffer from the effects of cross winds more, than regular passenger vehicles.

Medium SUVs can be more difficult to manoeuvre or park than their lighter passenger-car equivalents.

Drivers or owners of Medium SUVs can appear more profligate or uncaring for the environment, which can be an undesirable stigma in this day and age.

Medium SUVs can inflict injury, trauma and death due to the fact that their sheer size often obscures objects in their way, such as little children or animals when reversing down a driveway.

Medium SUVs with larger petrol engines often suffer form greater losses in resale value in times of high fuel or oil prices.

What are the best medium SUVs?

For on-road driveability and dynamic capability, always chose a monocoque Medium SUV such as a Ford Territory, Mazda CX-9 or Subaru Tribeca.

For off-road abilities, the Toyota Prado, Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder, Land Rover Defender, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler are tops, as they have all the necessary 4X4 features such as 4WD, good ground clearance, low and high-range transfer cases etc.

What are the most popular medium SUVs?

The Ford Territory, Toyota Kluger, Toyota Prado, Holden Captiva, Mitsubishi Pajero and Mazda CX-9 are amongst the Medium SUV bestsellers.

Where are most medium SUVs manufactured?

Australia, North America, Japan, Korea, England, and Spain are suppliers of most of our Medium SUVs.

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