SUVs are all the rage, but what are the core differences between sedans and SUVs, and do you need one or the other?
When buying a new vehicle, there is always a wide variety of preferences to consider and options to consider, which can make the process daunting. Each type of vehicle available on the market has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your driving needs; do you drive a large family around regularly? Commute to work or go on long highway trips? Any pets in the house? Bulky sports equipment to carry? The factors you must consider before leaving the house to visit a dealership are too many to count, and if you jump into the process without a plan, it's easy to get overwhelmed.
Two of the most popular choices of car are SUVs and sedans: while the popularity of SUVs has massively increased in recent years, to the point where many Americans will consider an SUV before any other type of vehicle when shopping for a new car, sedans have not been consigned to the dustbin of automotive history just yet, and there are plenty of sedans on the market that will function as a perfectly respectable daily driver even for a growing family.
If you're currently shopping for a car and are unsure whether to go for a sedan or an SUV, let's take a look at some of the key differences between them and the pros and cons of each as a guide to help you navigate the SUV vs. sedan comparison.
Over the past two decades, the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) has been steadily taking over from the sedan as the go-to "default" option for prospective car buyers looking for their next vehicle, increasing their market share to nearly half of new car sales in the US.
This process has gone hand in hand with an increase in the availability of more premium SUVs; while up to a couple of decades ago they were considered spartan, off-road machines, modern SUVs such as the Volvo XC90 are more likely to prioritize comfort and safety. SUVs are generally characterized by a larger size and boxy shape, a higher ride height, and a rugged character with varying degrees of off-roading capability. The increased popularity of the SUV is partly thanks to increased emphasis on occupant safety, and partly thanks to aggressive marketing on the part of carmakers, which highlights factors such as cargo space and passenger capacity as an advantage for busy families.
Sedans dominated the car market for decades, and for a good reason: with their sleek, stylish lines and low-to-the-ground profile, a sedan is the car to pick if you're looking for something that looks smart as well as being practical. With their smaller size and maneuverability, sedans have several advantages in urban and suburban environments: if your day-to-day driving needs involve more work commutes and highway journeys than muddy off-roading stints, then a sedan will most likely serve you well as a daily driver.
There's also the additional bonus of a (usually) lower price tag compared to an equivalent SUV. The market may currently be saturated with SUVs, but the sedan is not going to disappear completely for a while yet. Toyota has sold 265,244 Camrys so far in 2023 in the US alone, so demand is still present. If you're looking for something different, there are still plenty of options for an affordable, reliable family sedan, such as the Honda Civic.
Like many things in the car world, which is better depends on your needs. If you have a family with multiple kids and lots of stuff to carry, you may find an SUV more practical, but if you're single or are a couple without kids, a sedan is more practical, efficient, and easier to use.
On average, yes, an SUV uses more gas than a sedan. This is because of their size, weight, and poorer aerodynamics.
Typically, SUVs are more expensive than their equivalent sedan counterparts from the same manufacturer. They also use more fuel.