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What makes SUV’s so popular?

Toyota Fortuner 2

So what makes a Sports Utility vehicle so popular?

We live in a generation where 4WD SUV’s roam city streets, rather than off them. So many SUV’s seldom go their intended path. SUV’s are tough vehicles and are meant to be thrown into the wild. They can munch miles on the highway, and go to places, which will make hatchbacks wet their pants. Yet I see so many of them owned by wealthy businessmen and corporate honchos, who wouldn’t utilize even half of their SUV’s potential.

What’s the use of having a 3.0 liter 4WD Fortuner, when it’s going to be spending most of its time idling away in traffic en route to your fancy workplace? These cars are meant for river crossings, sand dune bashing and the works! As an ardent automobile enthusiast, this frustrates me and confuses me at the same time. So I spent some time trying to figure out what makes SUV’s so popular amongst consumers who don’t even know the meaning of off-roading!

I’ve grown to understand that SUV’s have a very dominating road presence. This factor appeals to everyone and anyone. Even a person, who doesn’t know a thing about automobiles, will be in awe of a good SUV. Most consumers buy SUV’s to stroke their ego and uplift their social status. They consider having a “big” car will somehow intimidate the people around them and make society aware of his personal wealth. This lot represents the biggest section on the pie chart of SUV consumers.

While some might think of it as a show of wealth, others prefer driving (being driven around technically) them safer then hatchbacks/sedans. Why you ask? Because the huge frame of the car somehow creates a safer environment, in case a road mishap occurs. This is somewhat true if you travel long distances frequently. But then again a top of the line sedan comes packed with safety features, and will probably get you to your destination quicker.

Companies have noticed this trend, and have used it to their advantage. The SUV`s they produce are in sync with these consumers’ tastes. They are comfortable to drive (or be driven around in most cases), come loaded with luxurious interiors to justify the huge price tag, and look intimidating (why do you think all gangsters in movies drive around in Scorpio’s and Fortuners?) How these cars perform when they are thrown into the wild is not bad either, but it does not matter because they will be spending more time burning fuel at a red light, than on a dirt road which even Google maps can`t comprehend. Almost all companies have SUV’s in their catalogue (Audi, Mercedes, Porsche and even Alfa Romeo), because it makes them money, a lot of money!

For automobile enthusiasts like us a 4WD SUV means river crossings, mucky roads, sand dune bashing and rain-forest trails. This is however a passing phase, SUV’s are enjoying their limelight now, until something comes and steals their thunder. Every automobile segment has its time, and the SUV’s (their manufacturers) are making the most of it.