What Is a Compact SUV?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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A compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a type of motor vehicle that is smaller than a full-sized version of the same vehicle while still retaining most or all of the same basic features. An SUV is a vehicle that is commonly four-wheel drive and is capable of off-road use without damaging the vehicle under normal operation. Commonly built on a compact truck chassis, the compact SUV offers added size and features that appeal to many owners who do not wish to own a full-size vehicle. Many owners prefer the added height and increased visibility of a compact SUV over that of a car and have no desire to ever take the vehicle off-road.

Built with all of the features that made the full-size utility vehicle popular with many consumers and blended with a sport styling that appeals to a younger crowd, the compact SUV offers functionality with a flare toward the trendy and adventuresome consumer. The smaller size makes for a friendlier vehicle at the fuel pumps when compared to other similarly-equipped full-sized offerings. An attempt to add a sporty type of style gives the vehicle a more aggressive stance, in most cases, with larger and sportier tires and wheels working in conjunction with a tuned suspension package.


For many younger consumers, the compact SUV is a vehicle option that offers more performance than the typical mini-van. It also provides additional room for a growing family and is able to tow or carry outdoor gear such as bikes, small boats and skiing equipment with ease. Commonly offered in both four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, the compact SUV provides a level of safety and stability not found in a typical automobile. Built on a small truck chassis or a purpose-built unit-body construction, the compact SUV is not as difficult to maneuver and drive as many full-sized vehicles for the average driver.

Advancements in vehicle design and safety such as improved crumple zones, side-impact air bag deployment and reinforced door bars make the compact SUV very safe in the event of a collision. The added size, while not extremely large, is typically larger than the average family sedan and offers a feeling of improved safety for some drivers. Fuel-efficient engines, improved suspensions that offer both an enhanced ride off-road as well as a comfortable ride on the highway, coupled with features such as heated leather seats and navigation systems make a compact SUV appealing to a wide array of consumers.


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