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An SUV vs a Sedan for Long Drives | Pros and Cons

Choosing the right vehicle for long drives is an important decision and not one to be made lightly. As an insurance adjuster, I put a lot of miles on my vehicle. Over my 20-plus year career, I have driven both an SUV and a sedan over long distances over many years each.

Both SUVs and Sedans are suitable for long drives. While an SUV offers more space and performs better on slippery roads, it also comes at a higher price tag with costly maintenance and fuel expenses. On the other hand, Sedans provide comfort during long rides and are kinder to a budget.

The rest of the article will cover the pros and cons of each type of vehicle and give insights into which you should choose. I’ll also offer my recommendation as to which to go with.

Which Is Easier to Drive for Long Trips: A Sedan or SUV?

If you want to rent a vehicle for a long trip or your job is far away, a Sedan will be more simple to control due to being more lightweight.

However, if the long-distance drive is on sub-par road conditions, then an SUV might be a better option. An SUV is bulkier and higher, so you have better visibility of the obstacles ahead, and it will be easier to keep a firm grip on a steering wheel on slippery roads.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each vehicle to see which one is more suitable for your needs, trips, and long-distance drives.

Advantages of Sedans:

  • Softer suspension: A Sedan’s drivability on unchallenging roads is better than that of an SUV. A Sedan is easier to maneuver through sharp corners, bumps, and obstacles. There is a higher chance of avoiding rollovers, and the process of parking is less troublesome. The driving process is smoother and more comfortable for you and your family.
  • Performance and acceleration: The smaller and lighter style of the car allows pleasant handling with higher acceleration options.
  • Safety: Due to their closed trunks, Sedans are safer, while storing expensive items at the back of the visible and transparent cargo space of an SUV isn’t such a good idea.
  • Lower purchase, rent, and maintenance costs: An SUV typically has a higher purchase and rent cost due to being a bigger car and having more off-road driving and towering capabilities. It makes Sedan a much cheaper vehicle that is better for clients with a tight budget. If you plan to drive only on roads in pleasant conditions, Sedan is a better purchase.

Disadvantages of Sedans:

  • Less space: Sedans are generally shorter, lower, and smaller than SUVs, so there is less seating space for passengers and less cargo space for your work or travel equipment. If you have a large family with children, it is tough to find interior space for all of them in a Sedan.
  • Large loads: If you planned to rent a car for a trip that requires hauling a boat or a trailer at the back, then Sedan is not the car for you.
  • Less reliable in bad weather conditions and no off-road driving experience: Although Sedans are great at winding roads with many turns, it’s tough to keep a firm grip on a steering wheel on slippery roads. If you live in a place with lots of snow and rain, an SUV is a better choice. If it’s a trip with off-road driving that you need a vehicle for, then, once again, Sedan isn’t the right choice.

Advantages of SUVs:

  • More space: An SUV is also a more suitable vehicle when you have children whom you will be taking with you for these long-distance drives. The process of buckling up your children in the car seat is more straightforward as you don’t have to bend as low. Also, if you are an outdoor enthusiast, an SUV provides more cargo space at the back for storing sports equipment.
  • Suitable for hauling large loads: The bigger SUV size in comparison to Sedan allows it to pull large objects behind it, such as a boat for your vacation trip.
  • Better visibility and stability: SUV is a bulkier vehicle, so in case of a collision with another car, it will remain more stable and provide more safety for the passengers and the driver. As a driver, you can see further ahead and avoid road obstacles due to its higher seating position.
  • Better for unfavorable weather conditions and better off-road capabilities: If you need to drive through rough terrain or mountainous areas that require off-road driving experience, then an SUV is more equipped and safe transport for such dangerous roads. The same goes for driving in an environment with rough weather conditions such as rain or snow.

Disadvantages of SUVs:

  • Higher vehicle cost: SUVs often contain better technology for towing and off-road driving, which increases the price of a vehicle. Let’s not forget that it’s a bigger vehicle with unique and individual style and form options. It requires more expensive work from manufacturers and engineers, so the ownership, rent, and maintenance costs are higher than that of a Sedan.
  • Rougher driving experience: An SUV provides a stiffer ride, has a higher risk of rollover, and doesn’t respond well to sudden movements.

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SUV vs. Sedan for Gas Mileage

If you are worried about the fuel economy and the MPG (Miles per Gallon), Sedan is a better choice. These vehicles usually have a four-cylinder, which is more fuel-efficient than SUV engines. Sedans do not carry large cargo weights or haul large loads, so the weight is automatically less, and thus, the gas mileage is also lower.

In recent years the manufacturers of SUVs have greatly improved gas mileage. However, it still doesn’t reach the efficiency level of Sedans. Some hybrid SUVs have better gas mileage, but these propositions come at a much higher cost. In simple words, SUVs are heavier cars, which means their engines require more work than the lighter Sedan cars. If you care about the environment, Sedan is an environmentally friendlier choice as it is a more fuel-conscious vehicle than an SUV.

My Recommendation

Personally, after driving an SUV for years, I eventually settled on a small sedan for my job. I have to drive between 30,000 and 60,000 miles per year and find that the better gas mileage far outweighs all other considerations. For our family vehicle, we went with a Toyota Sienna van.

I actually strongly suggest you go with a van over an SUV if you want more storage space and a slightly bigger vehicle. It was something I had to sell my wife on initially. But, in the end, she now loves our Sienna and wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you want a sedan recommendation, you can’t beat Toyotas for their reliability. I have a Corolla that is now 14 years old and has 450,000 miles on it. And it’s the original engine that is still going strong!

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Bottom Line

It’s not uncommon to find yourself debating the two most popular family transport options: an SUV versus a Sedan. Choosing the one that satisfies all your needs may complicate the matter even more because there are many pros and cons to each vehicle. It all depends on your budget, lifestyle, needs, and the road conditions on which you will be driving.

I hope this article has been both informative and helpful.

Thanks for reading!