JelMAC’s Car Dealer Advice Blog

The Myth of SUV Gas Efficiency
May 24, 2007, 11:02 am
Filed under: car buying, car buying advice

Over the past few years, the media has been quick to point the finger at SUVs for being gas guzzlers. Unfortunately, this has caused buyers to lose some interest in these, the most versatile of all vehicles.

What everyone in the media fails to bring up is the fact that SUVs don’t inherently guzzle gas… rather, the drivers demand more from an SUV than they do from a small sedan, and that’s why more gas is used.

There was an article written a few months back from a member of 9Rules which stated that a 6-cylinder Honda Accord and an 8-cylinder Dodge Durango will get the same exact gas mileage per cubic foot of useable interior space. The conclusion was that if you actually use an SUV to haul family and cargo, you’d have to drive 1.5 Accords to carry the same load, and your gas mileage would be no better than if you’d just used one Durango.

Now obviously we aren’t always hauling 5 passengers or a dining set around in our SUVs, but remember the other advantages of an SUV when you think about that subpar gas mileage:

  • Commanding view of the road
  • 4-wheel drive capability in bad weather
  • Ground clearance for snow or off-road situations
  • Towing capability
  • Greater safety in low-speed collisions

The fact of the matter is, SUVs are asked to do a lot more than sedans, and that’s why the gas mileage is worse. You’ll find that any 4-cylinder, front-wheel-drive SUV will give you great gas mileage, as long as you drive it like you would a small car. But that’s not why people buy SUV’s, and as much as we all like to have our cake and eat it too, it just doesn’t work that way.

The answer is simple: if you usually drive without any passengers, have no need to tow or haul anything, aren’t concerned about getting around in inclement weather, and don’t care about having a commanding view of traffic, then an SUV is an extravagance, and it would indeed be a waste for you to own one. But, if any of those items are a concern for you, then keep in mind how much your SUV can do for you when you’re thinking about that MPG number.

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