Full-size SUVs offer benefits that other SUV segments can’t match. Full-size SUVs contain the most interior passenger and cargo volume, have larger engines and are built on a chassis of full-size pick-up trucks. However, full-size SUVs offer lower fuel economy and have higher prices than their midsize SUV counterparts.
Shopping For A Large SUV
The auto industry often uses the term crossover to define an SUV, but this refers to a vehicle built on a car platform rather than one based on a platform for a truck. Full-size SUVs are usually truck-based, have excellent towing capability, better off-road mobility, are sturdier and heavier than smaller models, and are somewhat less fuel-efficient.
Third-row seating is offered on the majority of midsize crossovers and truck-based sport-utility vehicles. Even the largest models that are advertised as having seating for seven passengers often have a very cramped third row, one that is more suitable for children than adults. But with a full-size SUV, the third row is not cramped.
In fact, the Chevy Suburban, the biggest full-size SUV of them all has seating for nine passengers. Full-size models are the SUVs with the most cargo room, comparable to some minivans.
Interior Volume And Engine Size
Most SUVs that are marketed as full-size vehicles have a cargo volume of at least 100 cubic feet. The engines are usually eight-cylinder and offer substantially more horsepower than compact or mid-size crossovers. Most of the larger SUVs currently on the market have a highway fuel efficiency of about 18 mpg.
However, full-size SUV fuel economy is starting to improve. For example, the massive Suburban has fuel economy 15-mpg city and 21-mpg highway in base form, which is comparable to several three-row crossovers.
All-wheel drive vehicles usually weigh a bit less than a 4WD system. The latter provides the most power to the wheels that have the highest traction connection to the road surface. Larger SUVs are often manufactured with a different trim for all-wheel drive and 4WD.
The largest SUVs will cost more to begin with because of their size and weight. Their lower gas mileage means a higher daily operating cost. These vehicles often usually cost more to insure, even though many of them have a very high safety rating.
Full-Size SUV Models
Full-size SUV buyers have a variety of models to choose from. In addition to the Suburban, there is the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia.
The Sequoia has one of the smoothest rides of any large SUV. It also has one of the roomiest third-row seating areas of any truck-based utility vehicle. It handles quite well in tight spaces, making it a favorite for commuting and running errands. The Sequoia cannot tow quite as much weight as some of its competitors, but the engine is powerful enough to haul a full load of passengers and cargo.
Another popular full-size SUV is the Ford Expedition. The Expedition is a truck-based SUV that seats up to eight passengers. It has a well-designed independent rear suspension system that offers a quieter ride than most other models in this segment. The fuel efficiency is poor, but the ride is comfortable and the rear seating area is huge.
Most of the larger crossovers and truck-based SUVs have a full system of airbags including front units, seat-mounted airbags and side-curtain type airbags for the second and third row seating areas. The largest SUVs score quite well in crash tests, although the scores vary considerably for side-impacts. Most larger SUVs have luxury trims that come with advanced safety features such as rearview camera, lane departure warnings and electronic stability control.
Those shopping for full-size SUVs should take a close look at the total interior volume, horsepower versus fuel efficiency, and safety scores before making a purchase decision. Large truck-based SUVs can cost more to operate and insure, but are among the safest when it comes to crash test scores.
The Future of Full-Size SUVs
Crossovers are becoming increasingly larger. For example, the Infiniti QX60 is a new model with seating for seven and a starting price of about $43,000. Does this mean that there will be less truck-based full-size SUVs to choose from?
What you will see is that because full-size SUVs typically start at a price of about $45,000, they will increasingly have to offer luxurious features, more fuel-efficient engines, and other compelling reasons to buy to maintain their place in the market.
For buyers seeking more luxury, there are luxury full-size SUV models to choose from such as the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56, Lexus LX 570, Lincoln Navigator, and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Take a look at this post to find out what’s new for 2015 full-size SUV models.