This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we'll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This support helps us maintain and grow our site. Thank you for your support!

When looking for an SUV, you might be overwhelmed by the types of SUVs available to choose from. This article will help you determine the right one for you.

Some of the most popular ones include compact crossovers, small SUVs, medium truck-based SUVs, mid-size SUVs, small luxury SUVs, large luxury SUVs, large luxury SUVs, X-small or Subcompact SUVs, and electric SUVs.

The SUV is perhaps the most competitive automobile segment, and it has dominated the market for several decades. If you're into SUVs, you might want to know how many types of SUVs exist. Well, there are plenty of options, and we'll help you get familiar with them.

We have spent years working with automobiles and understand all the different types of vehicles that exist today. This has allowed us to compile a list of some of the most common types of SUVs you'll find on the roads. So without any further ado, let's look at the different types of SUVs.

Table of Contents

Car-Based SUV or Compact Crossovers

Car-based SUVs, further recognized as crossover automobiles, are the smallest SUVs in the industry. They feature all-wheel drive and independent suspension and are built on a car-like torso platform.

Crossovers drive like a regular car and get better gas mileage than pickups and large SUVs since they are car-based. They can manage light off-roading but are not made for dangerous conditions. Four-cylinder or six-cylinder engines are available in these SUVs.

Compared to conventional vehicles, compact crossovers are often in the top echelon when it comes to overall quality. The Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, and Nissan Murano are some of the examples of these SUVs. Of course, you'll have to look somewhere else if you want to do the right kind of off-roading.

Small SUVs

The heart of today's modern SUV industry is the small SUV, often referred to as compact SUVs. They've basically overtaken tiny and mid-size sedans as the go-to automobile for small families and workers. Compact SUVs, unsurprisingly, are where you start to feel like you're driving an SUV rather than a hatchback.

Even with long-legged front passengers, most offer considerable baggage space and back passenger capacity as well. The Honda CR-V has long held the top spot in the small SUV category due to its well-thought-out interior and ample cargo room, while the Mazda CX-5 is praised for its livelier handling.

The Jeep Wrangler, which has been the choice of hardcore off-roaders for years, is also in this category, as is the reborn Ford Bronco, which gives it a run for its money. The Ford Bronco Sport combines Bronco style with crossover road characteristics for consumers who prefer to stay on the tarmac.

X-Small SUV or Sub-Compact SUV

These vehicles are mostly hatchbacks based on a car chassis, but that isn't meant as an insult. Then again, hatchbacks are designed to be utilitarian, and a greater ride height makes it so much easier to get in or out. Many subcompact SUVs are comfortable for adult passengers, though the back seat can be uncomfortable if the people in front are tall.

The Mazda CX-30 has a fantastic design and is fun to drive without sacrificing safety, while the Hyundai Kona has a powerful turbo engine and a lot of amenities for a low price. Most of the same features are available in both the Kia Soul and the Honda HR-V, but the latter offers all-wheel drive.

The Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek come with all-wheel drive, while the Buick Encore GX stands out for its near-luxury cabin and driving performance.

Medium Truck-Based SUV

Conventional SUVs are built on truck-like foundations that are identical to those used in pickup trucks. Medium truck-based SUVs provide a higher load capacity than cars, and when equipped with four-wheel drive, they can tackle more challenging off-road situations.

If you choose sporty variants, mid-size SUVs can be configured as off-roaders and even racing rods. That is why so many people want one, and it's no wonder that over 2.2 million mid-size SUVs and hybrids were purchased in the United States last year alone. The majority of mid-size SUVs lack independent rear suspension, making them less comfortable for occupants if they're going on longer trips.

These SUVs are less maneuverable than sedans or crossovers, and they have poor fuel efficiency. Most models feature a 6-cylinder engine; some come with an 8-cylinder option, making them better suited to hauling huge loads but sacrificing even more fuel mileage.

The Ford Explorer, Ford Escape, Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, and Chevy Blazer are examples of medium truck-based SUVs.

Small 3-Row SUV

A few small 3-row SUVs suit the criteria if you prefer the size of tiny SUVs but still need three rows. However, passenger comfort suffers because you're effectively trying to squeeze three rows into a smaller frame. If you only need the third row occasionally, the Kia Sorento comes with it as a standard feature, and its stylish and quiet cabin sets it apart from the competition.

Also worth considering are the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Mitsubishi Outlander. The former has a lot of security and innovative elements, while the latter is tough enough for off-roading, even if it is a little rough around the edges. If you absolutely need those additional seats, we recommend upgrading to a mid-size 3-row SUV.

Mid-Size SUV

Mid-size SUVs combine the best features of their smaller predecessors with even more luggage and passenger space. At this grade, you'll also notice additional engine power, possibly even a V6, as well as increased towing capability for baby toys and wagons. Most mid-sizers have some off-road capability.

Given its pleasant ride and substantial interior space, the Honda Passport is difficult to beat, while the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport combines a robust appearance with well-executed luxury features. If you get the turbocharged engine, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a good alternative as well.

Large Truck Based SUV

The biggest SUVs are built on truck-like platforms that resemble pickup truck platforms. These SUVs are perfect for those looking for a high vehicle posture on the highway, as well as pulling power and security when traveling on slippery or icy roads.

Large SUVs are difficult to maneuver and should be handled like a big van. They have a high center of gravity, so they are more prone to rolling over as a result of a rapid turn, swerving, or sudden driving maneuver. To provide enough towing capability, large SUVs are typically fitted with a 6-cylinder or 8-cylinder engine.

Despite their increased size, the vehicles still just seat five passengers and have more storage room in the back. In the event of a crash with another vehicle, huge SUVs tend to sustain less harm than small cars. The Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Denali, Chevy Tahoe, and GMC Yukon are all large SUV vehicles.

Small Luxury SUV

Small luxury SUVs, like their non-luxury counterparts, feel very much like utility vehicles than hatchbacks. Comprehensive records of deluxe equipment and sophisticated technology, as well as more upmarket cabins and greater power engines, can be found here.

Because of its old-world beauty, exceptional comfort, and sophisticated multimedia and safety technology, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is a crowd favorite in this category.

There are also excellent alternatives from Audi and Porsche, among many others; however, the Volvo XC60 is perhaps the most underappreciated member of this group and is worth buying if you're interested in a luxury SUV. The Acura RDX, an inexpensive small SUV with quick driving and a cabin appearance inspired by the NSX supercar, is also worth considering.

Mid-size Luxury SUV

Mid-size luxury SUVs are all about internal elegance, cutting-edge technology, and the possibility of massive power and agility. The Mercedes-Benz GLE, with its excellent cabin quality, slashing navigation system, and a selection of the perfect engine, is a league apart when it comes to Midsize Luxury SUVs. The same could be said for the BMW X5, which also boasts one of the group's only plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

The Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q8 are two different interpretations of the same equation from the very same manufacturer, while the Land Rover Defender's comeback provides a modern twist on the company's rough and rugged beginnings.

Mid-size three-row luxury SUV

3-row mid-size premium SUVs, like their 2-row predecessors, prioritize comfort, tranquility, and technology; however, you'll have a difficult time finding outrageous horsepower figures in this category. If you're searching for adult-size room in the third row, popular 3-row mid-size SUVs offer it.

If you only need the extra seats occasionally, the recently restyled Audi Q7 is worth considering because of its cutting-edge technologies and top-tier road finesse. The Acura MDX takes the practical route, while the Lincoln Aviator takes the extravagant path. If you want to take on off-road challenges, the Land Rover Discovery is also a good option.

Large Luxury SUV

Big luxury SUVs are basically old SUVs dressed up in a tuxedo. You always get eight-passenger space, plenty of power, and a strong cargo capacity. Unique luxury features, such as high-quality leather seats, premium sound systems, and power chairs with apparently endless adjustments, are available here.

Extended-length variations are available on several large luxury SUVs, and nearly all feature dramatic style. The Cadillac Escalade has traditionally been the market leader in the United States, and it gets a new appearance for 2021, but the Lincoln Navigator is a powerful newcomer in the group.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS delivers a decidedly European rendition of this vehicle type, while the bold BMW X7 sports one of the industry's largest grilles.

Super Luxury SUV

Everything is practically self-explanatory in this group. When more cargo room and a dominating perspective of the highway are important, this is where premium and ultra-luxury manufacturers come into play. There is no such thing as an unnecessary luxury. Leather upholstery that is softer than you could ever assume, extravagant wood inlays, crystal decorations throughout the cabin, and customized interior color schemes are all common features found in super-luxury SUVs.  

V8 or even 12-cylinder engines, six-figure costs, and remarkable off-road abilities are all common features of these SUVs. The Bentley Bentayga, spruced up for 2021 and equipped with a newer technology interface, combines superb old-world workmanship with outrageous thrust and seven-passenger capacity.

The Lamborghini Urus, which encapsulates the Italian company's visceral power and aesthetics in a neatly creased SUV suit, is among the most popular super-luxury SUVs. Another model, the Aston Martin DBX, is ideal for customers who want to play out their wildest James Bond-related fantasies. However, for many buyers in this market, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is simply too intimidating to ignore.

Electric SUV

As manufacturers attempt to shift the SUV to alternative power, the old style is bound to meet the new. Many believe that premium crossovers are the greatest vehicle for EV propulsion, and the first generation of fully electric SUVs does just that, combining utility and cutting looks with a dash of coolness. These automobiles are fashionable, quiet, and, in many instances, speedy.

The Audi E-Tron is a popular electric car that delights its passengers with its pleasant and stable drive. The Jaguar I-Pace is more energizing, with a striking look and a sporty experience of driving which will pique your interest.

On the other hand, the Tesla Model Y is in a league of its own with its excellent range, quick acceleration, and accessibility to the countrywide Supercharger network. The Ford Mustang Mach-E offers thrilling acceleration and a tech-focused cabin, while the Volkswagen ID.4 entices SUV enthusiasts with its spacious interior and low pricing.

Types of SUVs

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding