With the time advancing the technology is gaining its ground. Current gen cars offer a plethora of mouth-watering ingredients, from all the high-end tech to the state of the art equipment. The vehicles are more of a science experiment than a machine to transport people. In this hustle and bustle, SUV or rather ‘so-called SUVs’ are gaining recognition. But are these vehicle SUVs? Or is it a marketing stunt at the manufacturer’s end? Let’s have a look.

Before getting started, let’s have a sneak peek of what is an SUV.

Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs)

Ford Endeavour
Ford Endeavour | SUV vs Crossover

By the name, it is clear that these mean machines are meant to do some serious stuff. What serious stuff? Well, off-roading and going on trails a conventional vehicle can’t even think of going. These vehicles come equipped with top-end tech with a little compromise on the features on the inside and these SUV’s generally are RWD.

Ladder On Frame ChassisLadder On Frame Chassis
Ladder On Frame Chassis | Image Source: (1)

Firstly these vehicles are built on a ladder or frame. In simple words, this chassis consists of 2 long metal beams attached with cross members providing a tough and rigid construction. The body sits on top of the chassis and the engine, transmission, suspension and other components are bolted on the chassis.

The Ladder on Frame Chassis (SUVs)
  • In simple words, the chassis is similar to those of trucks, giving them versatility over bad roads.
  • This type of construction also enables the SUVs to haul heavy payloads.
  • The ladder on frame chassis allows better suspension travel than its other counterpart.
  • This chassis enables us to have a wide range of customisations to extract the most potential out of the vehicle.
  • A higher centre of gravity allows the vehicle to have a higher ground clearance to tackle the worst possible terrains.
  • If a vehicle gets damaged in an accident it easy to repair the damage.
Disadvantages of SUVs
  • The downside of this type of construction is that it’s heavy, which drastically reduces the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.
  • These chassis possess a higher centre of gravity that negatively impacts the cornering abilities.
  • This type of construction also hampers the ride quality.

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Crossovers (Crossover Utility Vehicles)

Hyundai Creta 2020
Hyundai Creta 2020 | SUV vs Crossover

First things first, what are Crossovers? Well, the vehicle that sits between an SUV and a beefed-up hatch is the Crossovers. But these vehicles lack the finesse that a proper SUV has. Why is it so? the answer lies in the type of construction they are based upon. Most of the CUVs are FWD and unlike the SUVs, crossovers offer a unibody construction or have a monocoque chassis.

Monocoque Chassis
Monocoque Chassis | SUV vs Crossover

Unibody construction is different from a ladder on a frame. Instead of many parts bolted together, a monocoque chassis is all about building a vehicle in one piece. Opposite to a ladder on frame chassis, this construction has the body as an integral part of the chassis. This means that the fenders, suspension, engine, transmission and other components are attached on the body itself.

Advantages of Crossovers
  • Monocoque chassis offers a calm and composed ride quality.
  • The chassis also enables the vehicle to have better sound insulation from the outside world. This includes cutting the wind and tire noise too.
  • This type of construction is lighter and puts less load on the engine, making the motor more efficient.
  • Even the tires, suspension and the steering system have a better life expectancy.
  • Out on the highway, crossovers have better dynamics with reduced body roll.
Disadvantages of Crossovers
  • Crossovers can not be heavily customised due to lack of individual parts.
  • If damaged, hard and expensive to repair.
  • Crossovers can haul fewer loads due to minimal load-bearing members.
  • Expensive to research and development.
  • Usually, they are based on the hatchbacks or sedans platform.

Final Verdict

It is hard to say but, current so-called SUVs by the carmakers is a marketing stunt unless the definition of an SUV changes. It is suggested that soon the definition of an SUV might change but it is not any time in the near future. That said, vehicles like Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, MG Hector, Tata Harrier, and even Mahindra XUV 500 all have a unibody construction or in other terms they all are crossovers.

Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Marazzo, Ford Endeavour, Isuzu Dmax V-Cross, Toyota Fortuner and more all are based on a ladder on frame construction (SUVs).

Both of the vehicles have similarities too, like both can have 4X4 or higher ground clearance. But they are the SUVs that can be lifted even higher from the ground to have an extra advantage when wandering in the wild. It is up to you what you are looking from the vehicle.

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  1. Very well written and explained. As a Mechanical engineer and pero-Head. I can assume you have gone through SAE Vehicle dynamics Book, in depth. The way you expressed things are very subtle, and precise. I like your clear approach to the subject. Good.

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