Is it hard to drive an SUV?

By Kijiji Autos
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One of the most popular body styles for automobiles on Canadian roadways today is the sports utility vehicle (SUV). These large vehicles are ideal for drivers needing extra passenger or cargo space. Thanks to the style’s popularity, the SUV has adapted from the hardworking off-road Jeeps that were originally constructed for wartime use into practical family vehicles with some great safety features.

However, despite their widespread use, many drivers still have questions about the large body style, such as: are SUVs harder to drive, and is an SUV good for beginner and first-time drivers?

We've addressed some of your SUV-related questions in more detail below, from parking to first-time driving tips and more. All in all, if you're stopping yourself from buying an SUV because you're afraid it's more difficult to maneuver, you'll be pleased to know that's not the case. In fact, first-time drivers will find driving an SUV no more challenging than smaller vehicles like sedans, as long as they follow a few tips outlined below.

Is it hard to drive an SUV?

The quick answer is no, driving an SUV is not inherently difficult—at least not any more than other standard passenger vehicles. Designed intentionally for daily practical use and with the average driver in mind, modern SUVs are relatively easy to learn how to drive.

Equally, mechanically there are not any major differences that separate the SUV from other body styles. Often SUVs share similar mechanics and engines with other vehicles, including pickup trucks and sedans.

Is a sedan easier to drive than an SUV?

Sure, some natural differences make driving a smaller vehicle simpler to control. We will get into some of the biggest variations below. For now, it should be noted that any confident driver should be able to control as easily as any other passenger vehicle. And, unsurprisingly, some drivers prefer the higher seating position that an SUV offers.

Is a sedan easier to drive than an SUV?

An SUV can be significantly larger and taller than a standard sedan and, therefore, has a higher centre of gravity. The top-heavy position makes SUVs more prone to tipping over along sharp corners. However, as long as you maintain regulated speed limits and practice safe driving techniques, the chances of tipping are significantly low.

It is also important to note that owners should spread heavy loads equally on both sides of an SUV from front to back to avoid disrupting the car’s centre of gravity. Subsequently, the only other major difference between an SUV and a sedan is the increased blind spots.

SUVs intrinsically have larger blind spots in the front and rear of the vehicle. However, commercially sold vehicles will abide by safety standards with blind spots, and technology such as Blind Spot detection has made the hiding places less of a concern.

Are SUVs harder to park?

Driving is one thing, but what about when you are ready to pull over? Parking is one of the more prominent concerns that customers have about SUVs. A larger vehicle does mean that you can’t squeeze into those tighter parking spots. However, most SUVs are a standard size that should fit most parking spots across Canada.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the act of parking, SUVs are not much more difficult to park than smaller vehicles. Again comes up the concern of the larger blind spots, and the reduced vision does require drivers to be more aware when hitting the landing spot.

Although, many new vehicles come standard with parking assistance technology such as self-parking or parking assist cameras. These advancements make finding and fitting into most parking spots a breeze. That said, it's important to remain aware even with self-parking enabled.

Is driving an SUV hard for beginners?

Is an SUV a good option for a first-time driver? The short answer is yes. As we touched upon above, SUVs are designed for practical use by drivers of all experience levels. While it can be more intimidating for inexperienced drivers to begin in a large SUV, the experience does not differ much from smaller cars.

Truthfully, an SUV does not make learning the basics of driving any more difficult. Actually, gaining the experience of driving a larger vehicle might make controlling smaller cars like sedans a much easier transition. Plus, having the skills of driving in a large SUV means that new drivers will rarely need to ask, "Is driving an SUV harder than a car?" because, besides the obvious size difference, they'll hardly notice one being more challenging than the other.

Tips for driving an SUV as a beginner

Here are some tips for first-time drivers of an SUV:

  • Adjust mirrors to help with blind spots.
  • Position seating to get the best viewpoint.
  • Take corners at appropriate speeds.
  • Obey speed limits at all times.
  • Locate parking spots with enough space.
  • Utilize driving assistance technology.
  • Maintain confidence behind the wheel.

Some easy-to-drive SUV options

SUVs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. One of the most longstanding SUVs on the market is the Jeep Wrangler, which promotes a smaller size and robust off-road capabilities. For family SUVs, you can look at popular brands such as the Toyota Rav4 or Subaru Forester, which offer practicality and multiple safety features. For something much larger, consider badge names like the Mercedes-Benz G-Class or the Chevrolet Suburban. Regardless of your needs, there is likely an SUV that suits you and your lifestyle, and it won’t take long to adapt to the new driving style.

So, for those wondering if driving an SUV is difficult, it is safe to say that it is not any more complicated than most passenger vehicles. First-time drivers will be as quick to adapt to an SUV as they will smaller vehicles. Keep in mind that SUVs can be larger than sedans and accommodations should be made for larger blind spots. Even beginners can take an SUV for a drive just as simply as any sedan.

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