In these days of $4.00-plus gasoline, climate change and social upheaval, the pressure to downsize your vehicle is overwhelming.
But there are some very legitimate (and some spurious) reasons to own and drive an SUV. Don't get turned around by peer pressure. Don't let your neighbors select your vehicle for you with their disapproving looks. When you need an SUV, you need an SUV.
Here are the 10 Best Reasons to Buy an SUV or Crossover vehicle. Pick and choose your favorite reasons, and use them in your next debate with that judgmental vegetarian at the Whole Foods.
If that doesn't work, run them over in your SUV.
1. SUVs carry more people efficiently
If you've got a big family, it may not be possible to transport everyone in one vehicle unless you drive an SUV. If your family of seven needs to get from point A to point B at the same time and all you own is a Prius and an Insight, you're going to have to make multiple trips or take multiple vehicles. One trip in a big SUV, and you've saved fuel, taken up less space in traffic and in the parking lot, and made maximum use of your resources.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Chevrolet Traverse
2. Some SUVs get excellent gas mileage
Back in the old days (five or more years ago), many SUVs were actually inefficient gas hogs. But now, there are multiple SUVs that are rated to achieve over 30 miles per gallon on the highway, still retaining the capacity and benefits of an SUV.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Subaru XV Crosstrek
3. SUVs are safer than cars
There's actually some truth to this reason, within certain parameters. No matter what kind of standard safety equipment, airbags, traction control or anti-lock brakes you put on a 2,337 lb subcompact Chevy Spark, it will be the loser in a head-on collision with a 5,820 lb Chevrolet Suburban. It's just a matter of physics.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Chevrolet Suburban
4. SUVs can tow more than cars
Even in times of economic strife, people still have hobbies. And some of those hobbies require towing. If you love horses, motorcycles, boats, fishing, camping or even antiquing, chances are you need to tow once in a while, if not more often. You can add a towing kit to a car, but it's a Frankenstein operation at best. Many SUVs arrive with towing capability built right in, and some even come with trailer sway control. Why tow with a car when you can tow with an SUV?
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Ford Flex EcoBoost
5. SUVs are better off-road
It's not just the ground clearance and the beefy suspension systems that make SUVs better off-road than cars. It's also transmissions and differentials that are designed to perform off-road. It's underbody protection, like skid plates, which many SUVs come with. It's features like hill descent control and low range. It's fenders that are shaped to accommodate long suspension travel, and hoods that slope away from the driver for visibility. SUVs were born for off-roading, and they've still got that ability.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Jeep Wrangler
6. Dogs love SUVs
This one is true -- dogs do love SUVs. Ask any dog, and they'll tell you. In fact, a few manufacturers have even put out dog-friendly editions of their SUVS, strictly to appeal to dogs (and dog owners). Ultimately, using a few accessories, like a pet barrier or pet carriers, you can turn your SUV's cargo bay into a safe haven for your dogs during travel. It's not safe to allow your dogs to roam freely through the cabin of your car -- they may interfere with your operation of the vehicle, or worse, become dangerous projectiles in the event of a collision.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Honda Element
7. SUVs are better in a flood
With all of the recent hurricanes and heavy rains across the country, you've noticed a bunch of swamped sedans and coupes on city streets. If I'm ever caught in a flood, I want to be in my Toyota 4Runner, which can ford over 24" of water. With some simple aftermarket equipment, many SUVs can be outfitted to ford even deeper water, up to 36" and even deeper.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Toyota 4Runner
8. SUVs can carry more cargo
Picture this: You're driving down the road and as you come around a corner you see a fantastic recliner on the curb with a sign that says "FREE." The chair is in perfect shape. Dark clouds are forming overhead -- it's about to rain. If you don't take this chair right now, it's going to get ruined, which would be a terrible shame. Luckily, you're driving your SUV. You pull over, lift the tailgate, flop the second and third row seats flat and muscle the recliner into the cargo bay. Slam the tailgate shut, drive on home and enjoy your new chair. If you were in a coupe or a sedan, that beautiful Barcalounger would be waterlogged right now, and you'd be sitting in your old beanbag chair.
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Nissan Pathfinder
9. SUVs have a command seating position
Sitting up higher, you can see further down the road. Sometimes, you can even see over other traffic, which can help you to prepare for hazards ahead and avoid trouble. Command seating position also helps in parking lots (you can see empty spaces), in the suburbs (you can see over hedges) and off-road (you can see over obstacles).
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Land Rover LR4
10. SUVs are cooler than cars
Need I say more?
Good vehicle to demonstrate: Porsche Cayenne Turbo