The sedan vs SUV debate is hotter than ever, and we settle it once and for all.
Sedans and SUVs are the two most popular vehicle classes around the world, but while the past decade has seen sales of sedans stagnate, if not shift into reverse, SUV sales have kicked into high gear.
More than 50 percent of new car sales in North America, Europe, and Asia now come from SUVs, and one has to wonder why. What is it about these vehicles that has car buyers flocking to them en mass, and are they actually better than sedans?
Our sedan vs SUV comparison guide gets to the bottom of this by describing each vehicle type, highlighting the benefits of owning and driving either one, and comparing them using 10 decision criteria to determine if one is truly better than the other.
IN THIS GUIDE
Difference Between SUV And Sedan
There are 10 different types of cars, and sedans and SUVs are by far the most recognizable. As effective means of transportation, they have distinctly different designs that provide unique advantages for the owner.
Determining which body style best suits your needs requires understanding what sets them apart.
What Is A Sedan Car?
Everything you need to know about sedans can be found in our well-researched, highly-detailed sedan buying guide.
The sedan design has traditionally featured three separate compartments for the engine, passenger cabin, and cargo area, as well as four doors and a low ground clearance.
The engine compartment is located at the front, while the passenger compartment is situated in the middle and contains two rows of seats. The cargo compartment (trunk) is enclosed and protrudes from the rear.
There are several different types of sedans, and one in particular, liftback sedans, are technically hatchbacks since they have a liftgate and one shared compartment for both the passenger and cargo areas instead of two separate ones.
Good examples of sedans are the Honda Civic and Accord, Toyota Corolla and Camry, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Benefits Of Sedans
Driving a sedan has its advantages. The following are the biggest reasons for buying one.
- Easy to drive: A short body and low ground clearance keeps sedans planted to the road, making them easier to maneuver and reducing their risk of rolling over.
- Fuel economy: The average sedan is fairly lightweight and powered by a small power source (engine, electric motor(s), etc.), factors that maximize fuel-efficiency.
- Running costs: Sedans have a tried-tested design that has been perfected over a century, resulting in low repair and maintenance costs. Moreover, their tires are relatively inexpensive to replace due to being small, and many models are cheap to insure.
- Price, value: If you have a tight budget or want the most value for your money, you’ll be happy to know that sedans are the most affordable vehicle segment in most parts of the world.
Why Get A Sedan?
Sedans are a very efficient way of transporting four or five people. They are very fuel-efficient, easy-to-drive, and affordable.
Sedans are typically great everyday vehicles and a great value.
What Are SUVs?
For detailed analysis of what SUVs are, read our expert researched SUV buying guide.
Like hatchbacks, wagons, and minivans, SUVs feature two compartments, a separate one for the engine and a second, much larger compartment shared by the passenger and cargo areas.
They have an upright boxy body and a high ground clearance that give them a high center of gravity. While most SUVs come with two rows of seating, many large models offer three rows of seats that makes them a viable alternative to minivans.
Even though not all SUVs come with an all-wheel or four-wheel drive system, the feature is a key highlight of the segment.
There are two distinct types of SUVs — traditional SUVs, which are based on a light truck chassis, and crossover SUVs, which are built on a car platform. Understandably, the former delivers very truck-like performance, while the latter feels and drives more like a conventional car (sedan, hatchback, etc.).
For simplicity sake, we will use the acronym ‘SUV’ to refer to both traditional SUVs and crossover SUVs unless stated otherwise.
Great examples of crossover SUVs are the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav 4, and Jeep Grand Cherokee, while the traditional SUV segment includes the Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler, and Ford Bronco.
Benefits Of SUVs
There are many good reasons why SUVs, especially crossover SUVs, are so popular:
- More space: Because of their tall boxy bodies, SUVs generally have quite roomy interiors and cargo areas.
- Seating capacity: Many SUVs come with three rows of seats and can accommodate seven to eight passengers comfortably.
- Accessibility: The evated ride height of SUVs can make getting in and out of the interior easier for tall people, and their large cargo opening makes it easy to load and unload small and large items.
- Visibility: SUVs provide good view of the road thanks to their tall bodies, large windows, and high ground clearance.
- Off-roading: The high ground clearance and all-wheel drive setup of most SUVs allows them to drive over rough and bumpy terrain easily, which is great if you live in an area with bad roads and/or inclement weather.
- Towing: Many SUVs, especially those based on truck platforms, have the durability and power needed to tow heavy loads.
Why Get An SUV?
SUVs are robust and versatile vehicles that offer plenty of cargo room and, with many models, the capability to drive on all road conditions and tow heavy loads.
For an active individual or family, as well as an outdoor or off-road enthusiast, an SUV will provide the best all-around utility.
Sedan Vs SUV Comparison
Now that we have analyzed the key characteristics and benefits of sedans and SUVs, we’re going to help you decide between the two by comparing them against 10 pertinent decision criteria.
Winner: SUV (slight edge)
Contrary to what you might have heard, SUVs don’t offer significantly more interior room than sedans. The amount of space offered by models in the same size class can be nearly identical.
Even so, the taller bodies and longer wheelbase of crossover SUVs typically result in slightly more headroom and rear legroom for passengers to relax on long trips.
Also, if you need a third row of seats, and you can’t stomach the idea of driving a homely minivan, a three-row SUV will be your only option.
Make sure to read our SUV vs minivan comparison guide if you’re looking for a large family vehicle.
As with a hatchback, the cargo area of a crossover SUV is almost always more voluminous than a sedan’s trunk. A Honda CR-V crossover, for example, offers over 50 percent more cargo room than the similarly priced Honda Accord sedan, and that’s with the rear seats up.
Folding the rear seats only widens the cargo-hauling edge a crossover SUV has over a sedan, so if you routinely have to carry things, getting one may be your best move.
The higher ride height and seating position of SUVs are a double-edged sword. They can make getting in and out of the interior easier for tall people but more challenging for smaller individuals such as kids.
Accessing the cargo is far easier with SUVs than sedans, however, thanks to the significantly wider cargo opening of the former. Loading large items such as furniture can be a breeze with these high-riding hatchbacks but virtually impossible with sedans.
Since sedans have shorter bodies, sit lower to the ground, and, therefore, less top-heavy than SUVs and crossovers, they tend to be much easier to maneuver at any speed. There is less risk of rolling over, and parking in tight spaces is less of a hassle.
Granted there are easy, fun-to-drive crossover SUVs on the market, sedans are the clear winner when it comes to driving ease and enjoyment.
Having just a bit more visibility can go a long way to make you feel more comfortable behind the wheel, especially when crawling through a sea of traffic. To that end, the high ground clearance, larger windows, and higher seating position of SUVs results in better visibility for both driver and passengers.
To their benefit, sedans usually have an edge when it comes to blidspots since their smaller size and proportions make seeing around them easier.
SUVs generally have better performance capabilities than sedans. First, they are offered with a wider variety of powerful engines, from four-cylinder units to beastly V8s.
Second, while only a few sedans come with all-wheel drive as an option, the feature is almost a prerequisite for SUVs.
All-wheel drive, combined with their higher ground clearance and more powerful engines, means SUVs are better able to traverse rough roads and inclement weather than sedans.
These features also make them better at hauling large and heavy items, such as boats and campers.
Sedans are typically lighter than SUVs and crossovers and mostly powered by smaller engines, factors that maximize fuel-efficiency.
Even some of the more powerful sedans with V6 engines are more fuel-efficient on average due to their smaller size.
Ditto for hybrid and all-electric powertrains, as hybrid and electric sedans have a noticeably longer driving range than their crossover SUV counterparts.
While SUVs have come a long way from their gas-guzzling past, and even though they have taken the sales crown from the sedan segment, sedans remain the fuel economy champs.
SUVs have been shown to be much safer than sedans, as their larger size, greater mass, and higher ride height puts them at an advantage in collision with smaller vehicles.
Studies show that in a head-on crash between the two vehicle types, those riding in the sedan are 7.6 times more likely to die than those in the SUV.
Choosing an SUV for safety isn’t an automatic win, however, as their higher center of gravity makes them more prone to rollovers. Electronic stability control (ESC) systems greatly reduce rollover risk and are a highly recommended feature.
Sedans are more affordable than SUVs on average. They typically have a starting price that’s a few thousand dollars cheaper than crossover SUVs of the same size class and feature set.
The money you will save can be used elsewhere or put towards getting a higher trim, more feature-laden sedan.
Cost Of Ownership
Even though most SUVs are car-based crossovers, sedans are on average cheaper to run.
Not only are they more affordable and fuel-efficient, but their tires and wheels are also cheaper as a result of being smaller than SUV tires and wheels. Car insurance can be a toss-up between the two vehicle types, however.
Sedan vs SUV FAQs
In this section, we answer some of the most popular questions regarding the topic of sedans vs SUVs and summarize many of the key points of this comparison guide in the process.
Are SUVs Better Than Sedans?
Not necessarily. SUVs and crossovers have better off-roading and hauling capabilities, larger cargo areas, and, in the case of many large models, three rows of seating.
If you don’t need those capabilities, which most people don’t, a sedan will offer more than adequate interior room; an easier, more comfortable driving experience; better fuel efficiency; and lower overall running costs, all for a lower purchase price.
The simple fact is that SUVs are too much car for the average person.
Why Are SUVs More Popular Than Sedans?
Most people don’t need the off-roading, towing, and even cargo-hauling capabilities of SUVs, so much of their popularity can be attributed to how they look and the image of adventure they sell.
In other words, SUVs are considered much cooler vehicles than sedans due to their taller stance, brawnier proportions, and go anywhere, do anything design, and it’s only human nature to want the latest and coolest.
Which Is Better To Drive, SUV Or Sedan?
It depends on the terrain. On paved roads and in urban environments, sedans ride and handle easier and more comfortably than SUVs due to their smaller proportions and lower ground clearance.
SUVs, on the other hand, fare better when driving on rough roads and in inclement weather because of their higher ground clearance and wider availability of all-wheel drive systems.
So, should you get a sedan or an SUV? As our SUV vs sedan comparison guide shows, choosing between the two is not as easy as would initially appear.
They each have their benefits and shortcomings. Sedans are typically more affordable, fuel-efficient and have a lower cost of ownership than SUVs, not to mention easier to drive and park.
On the flip side, SUVs offer more cargo room, better visibility, superior off-road and towing capability, and better protection for occupants in the event of a collision.
As a prospective car buyer, you need to weigh their pros and cons against your life situation and requirements to make a smart decision. This entails going out and doing test-drives.
We hope you found our detailed analysis informative and that it helped you settle the sedan vs SUV debate once and for all.
Is it better to get a sedan or SUV? ›
In principle, sedans offer better performance and a smoother ride on highways and city roads. On the other hand, if you are looking at long-distance driving, particularly on bad or broken roads, an SUV can be a better alternative out of the two. SUVs also have larger wheels and better suspension travel.Is it safer to be in an SUV than sedan? ›
Because SUVs are larger, heavier cars compared to compact cars – such as Sedans for example – they are generally considered safer, especially in head-on accidents according to Consumer Reports. A 2013 report from NBC News even claims that SUV drivers are 50% more likely to survive a crash than drivers in regular cars.What is the advantages of sedan over SUV? ›
Drivability: Sedans aren't as large as SUVs. Some people might see that as a disadvantage, but keep in mind that smaller vehicles are easier to maneuver and park. Budget: In general, sedans aren't as expensive as SUVs, so you can either save some money or put it towards a higher trim level with the latest features.Why are sedans safer than SUVs? ›
With more metal between them and the road, SUV drivers enjoy a higher rate of safety than those in sedans and smaller cars, which may be more easily damaged. With otherwise equal safety features (such as side airbags and anti-lock breaks), SUVs typically have the edge over smaller cars when it comes to safety.Do sedans last longer than SUVs? ›
According to iSeeCars.com, truck-based SUVs are some of the longest-lasting vehicles ever produced. Certain SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Sequoia outlast most sedans and coupes. Only two car models made it onto iSeeCars' list of longest-lasting cars, SUVs and trucks.Are sedans more stable than SUVs? ›
SUVs and the Risk of Rollovers
The inherent design of an SUV gives it a higher center of gravity. SUVs are taller and narrower than sedans or economy cars, making them less stable on their frames. This makes SUVs more prone to rollover accidents.
- Honda Accord.
- Honda Civic.
- Honda Insight.
- Acura TLX.
- Lexus ES.
- Lexus IS.
- Toyota Camry.
- Toyota Corolla.
Even though they are at a higher risk for rollovers, SUVs are considered the safest type of vehicle when it comes to fatalities. Thinking about the science of energy transfer can help you understand why bigger vehicles are naturally safer.Why are SUVs more popular than sedans? ›
Versatility and Cargo Space
Many SUVs offer even more space inside the cabin, with a large range of sizes available, including compact and full-size models, making it easy for small and large families to find the SUV that is the right size for them.
Disadvantages of a Sedan
Fuel Consumption– Due to their higher kerb weight, they consume more fuel than hatchbacks. Difficult to Manoeuvre – In cities with high traffic, these cars are difficult to drive through small spaces and require more parking space than hatchbacks.
What is the drawback of SUV? ›
Disadvantages of owning an SUV
Price – Basically, the bigger the car, the more you can expect to pay for it. And that's just the beginning. Fuel costs – Being bigger and heavier than a standard passenger car, an SUV will require more fuel energy to run.
Comfort. The seating position in a sedan is lower to the ground than an SUV, and the body tends to handle much more sharply during cornering. This makes driving a sedan a more comfortable experience, especially if you typically drive on winding roads.Are SUVs harder to drive than sedans? ›
SUVs can be harder to drive because they have less room to maneuver in tight spaces and are generally less agile when responding to emergencies. That's the trade-off for increased safety when a crash does occur. Learn more about the differences between SUVs vs. sedans and trucks vs.Are SUVs safer than sedans in winter? ›
As opposed to sedans, SUVs have higher ground clearance and elevated seating which gives you greater visibility and the ability to drive over larger levels of snow. With higher ground clearance however, comes a higher center of gravity so, keep in mind that fast turns in snowy conditions could be a recipe for disaster.Do sedans get better gas mileage than SUVs? ›
Larger vehicles are notorious for guzzling gas. Since SUVs are heavier, even the most fuel-efficient vehicles in this category will get significantly fewer miles per gallon than sedans. On average, the most fuel-efficient SUVs average around 20-25 MPG, while sedans get anywhere from 30 to 40 MPG.What brand sedans last longest? ›
The Toyota Avalon (245,710) was the longest-lasting sedan, followed by the Chevrolet Impala, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Lexus GS 350. The Toyota Prius (250,601) was the longest-lasting hybrid, followed by the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lexus RX 450h and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.Why are people buying SUVs? ›
Speaking anecdotally, I've asked hundreds of people why they chose an SUV instead of a car. The answer I hear the most is “I feel safer.” Right off the bat this is a telling response, as drivers believe they have to arm themselves with a larger vehicle in order to safely move about our society.What is the No 1 stolen car in USA? ›
These 2020 statistics highlight what vehicles are the most desirable by thieves. 2020 is the second year in a row that Ford's full-size pickup truck tops the list as the most stolen car in America. Japanese model sedans are the most popular stolen cars, taking six out of 10 slots within the top 10.Which is the No 1 safety car in world? ›
1. Genesis G70. Genesis G70 is a low-cost sports sedan with high scores on various crash tests. It is one of themostsafest cars in the world that has standard driver-assist technologies like automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control.What are the top 5 safest cars? ›
- Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Average safety rating: 88% (5-stars) ...
- Mazda CX-30. Average safety rating: 86% (5-stars) ...
- Mazda3. Average safety rating: 86% (5-stars) ...
- Subaru Forester. Average safety rating: 85% (5-stars) ...
- Toyota Yaris. Average safety rating: 84% (5-stars) ...
- Nissan Juke. ...
- Ford Puma. ...
- Isuzu D-MAX.
Which car company has the safest car? ›
- Tata Nexon - NCAP Rating 5 Stars. ...
- Tata Altroz - NCAP Rating 5 Stars. ...
- Mahindra XUV 300 - NCAP Rating 5 Stars. ...
- Mahindra Marazzo - NCAP Rating 4 Stars. ...
- Volkswagen Polo - NCAP Rating 4 Stars. ...
- Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza - NCAP Rating 4 Stars. ...
- Tata Tiago - NCAP Rating 4 Stars.
They're lighter, lower to the ground and easier to drive. Many sport sedans also feature rear-wheel drive, which can make twisty roads a thrilling experience. While SUVs might be seen as a safer choice due to their larger size, they are also more prone to rollovers.What is the main problem with SUVs? ›
They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, thus contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Their higher center of gravity significantly increases their risk of rollovers.Are sedans dying out? ›
In fact, they've been dying a slow death for some time now. Crossovers, SUVs and pickups have taken over the market, leaving the traditional four-door sedan in the dust. They've been abandoned by many American auto manufacturers, especially the Big Three — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Stellantis.Why do people prefer sedans? ›
Because they are smaller and low to the ground, sedans are less likely to tip and they usually have a smaller turning radius than some of their larger counterparts like full-size SUVs and trucks. In fact, many sedans are turned into performance vehicles because of their excellent handling.Why are people not buying sedans? ›
It primarily has to do with image and practicality. Sedans are lower to the ground, comfortable on the road, quiet, efficient and affordable. However because of those things, they are also perceived by the buying public as boring. The SUV has a more “adventurous” stance and look to it.What are pros and cons of a sedan? ›
- Pros of a Sedan.
- High Fuel Economy.
- Comfortable Seats.
- Safe and Secure.
- Full of Luxury.
- Cons of a Sedan.
- Less Towing Power.
SUVs prove to be fantastic partners for long road trips and are more than happy when cruising along a motorway for extended periods of time. Their comfortable nature also allows them to soak up potholes and imperfections of the road better than other options on the market.Are SUVs losing value? ›
Another one: Luxury sedans and V-8-powered SUVs are among the 2018-2021 year model vehicles that have depreciated the most in resale value over the last 12 months. Keep reading to see which newer used cars and SUVs have decreased the most in value since 2022.Why do some people not like SUVs? ›
One of the main reasons sport-utility vehicle drivers are disliked is due to their cocky driving style made up of fast acceleration, tailgating, lane-hogging and road dominance rather than road sharing.
Are sedans good for road trips? ›
Sedans and hatchbacks make excellent road-trip vehicles for small families and light packers. They are also among the most affordable options on the market and offer generous efficiency even without a hybrid or electric powertrain.Why do Indians prefer SUVs over sedans? ›
One of the major reasons that explains the shift to SUVs is their commanding road presence as well as their elevated driving position which gives better control to the drivers. The perception that SUVs are a status symbol is also drawing customers to this segment.Which SUV is safest in a crash? ›
- The safest SUV for 2022 is the Tesla Model Y. ...
- The safest small SUV is the Mazda CX-30.
- After Tesla, the Subaru Ascent takes second place as the safest midsize SUV for 2022.
- The Chevrolet Trailblazer is the most economical of the safest SUVs on the list.
In fact, an SUV driver or passenger is at least 50 percent more likely to survive a car crash without suffering serious injuries than an individual riding in a sedan.Are SUVs safer to drive than cars? ›
A recent crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that passengers of heavier, larger vehicles experience less force during an accident. Keep in mind that your driving habits are a key player in your safety while on the road. But a sedan can be just as safe as an SUV.Is a car safer than an SUV in a crash? ›
However, the average SUV poses nearly twice the risk to drivers of other vehicles as do the average midsize and large cars. The net result is that the combined risk of the average SUV (129) is about 25 to 30 percent higher than that of the average midsize (105) or large car (100).Are SUVs any safer? ›
Medium and large SUVs perform on par with their passenger car equivalents with regard to occupant protection. Commercial utes also protect occupants as well as large cars.Are you safer in a bigger car? ›
Weight is important when two vehicles collide. The bigger vehicle will push the lighter one backward during the impact. That puts less force on the people inside the heavier vehicle and more on the people in the lighter vehicle.What is a disadvantage to driving an SUV? ›
Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, thus contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation.Is it better to have a car or SUV? ›
So you're getting a new vehicle and you wonder whether you want to get a car or an SUV. While SUVs do offer a few advantages over cars, including increased protection, higher driving position, and greater towing capacity, they tend to be more costly to maintain than cars and also carry a larger footprint.
Is SUV safer than sedan in snow? ›
As opposed to sedans, SUVs have higher ground clearance and elevated seating which gives you greater visibility and the ability to drive over larger levels of snow. With higher ground clearance however, comes a higher center of gravity so, keep in mind that fast turns in snowy conditions could be a recipe for disaster.What is the safest SUV to own? ›
The safest SUV for 2022 is the Tesla Model Y. This also makes the Tesla Model Y the safest luxury SUV and safest electric SUV. The safest small SUV is the Mazda CX-30. After Tesla, the Subaru Ascent takes second place as the safest midsize SUV for 2022.Which vehicles cause the most accidents? ›
iSeeCars has ranked 7 large SUVs based on their safety scores from the NHTSA and IIHS. Using this scoring method the safest large SUV is the Ford Expedition with a perfect 10 out of 10 score. The first 2 of 12 large SUVs receive a perfect 10 out of 10 score, confirming these models also score well in safety testing.Are SUVs safer in winter? ›
SUVs are considered one of the safest vehicles for snowy conditions, as they're large and heavy vehicles that feature vast equipment to keep you safe out there. If you're in doubt about whether to go for an SUV or not, here are a couple of the benefits you can reap from this vehicle.Is it better to have a big or small car? ›
Considerations when Comparing Car Size
Bigger cars offer more seating, additional cargo space and tend to have more leg room – perfect for a family road-trip. By contrast, smaller vehicles tend to be more affordable, maneuverable, and efficient – making it the ideal option for a leisurely drive around Singapore island.
Any vehicle can rollover. However, vehicles such as SUVs, pickups, and vans are more susceptible, given their narrower, taller build. As such, they are top-heavy and have a higher center of gravity, which reduces balance and stability. Suv rollover risk is greater than in many other types of vehicles.Are newer cars safer than older cars? ›
Vehicle safety has changed drastically over the years, and today newer cars are safer than ever before. Thanks to advanced engineering, in-depth research and analysis of crash data, newer vehicles are built better and have more safety features to protect you.