In recent times, the rise of the SUV or vehicles with an aesthetic of all terrain is a result unstoppable but, how safe are SUVS?. Either versatility or image, each time more drivers will decide for this type of vehicle and the manufacturers offer his response with an offer of varied, good with vehicles designed as such from the beginning or, as happens in some cases, by simply adding a few inches extra of height above the ground and adorned the body with simple hardware plastics.
The most “strange” that has been seen in recent months was the launch of the DS 4 Crossback, with baca on the ceiling, steps of wheels (added to) the black plastic and 32mm more in height above the ground relative to the rest of DS 4. Is there a trick? Well, of course yes. When the brand DS started to offer their products independently, and differentiated with respect to the previous range Citroën DS, it was decided to trim the height of the Citroën DS4 by simply modifying the suspension to lower it 3 inches. If the DS 4 Crossback is 3 inches taller than the DS 4 with conventional means that has the same height as the now defunct Citroën DS4, but the first have aesthetic SUV and the second was intended to give an image of luxury French.
I will Never be able to understand whether these additions are sufficient for to transform tourism into a SUV, especially if we take into account that vehicles such as the Mini F56 equip already some prominent wheel arches in black plastic and, optionally, can be equipped with longitudinal rails on the roof also in black color. What is the smallest of the Mini-a SUV? So we are all clear that, though no one knows for sure what is a SUV.
The origin of the SUV
The term SUV is the acronym of Sport Utility Vehícle and began to be used in the united States to designate the vehicles that had the aesthetics of a all-terrain but not his skills. In addition, remember that americans differentiate between the SUV and Crossover, the latter being the vehicles with appearance of all-terrain or SUV but made from the chassis of a tourism. In the current market, with the progress in the construction of modular platforms, to differentiate between SUV and Crossover, it would be hard and complicated.
In the european market, although it is now very fashionable, the use of the acronym SUV, we had the category of the all the way to designate those vehicles that in the 90s began to come to our roads that look like all terrain but without gear because, being clear, all-wheel drive the geared up all of them without exception. That said, I imagine that we all will come to mind the Toyota Rav4 XA10 1994 or the Honda CR-V RD1, 1995.
however, the vehicle can be describe as the first SUV of the history of the automobile is a Jeep Cherokee XJ, 1984. This assertion has a great deal of credibility especially knowing that you did everything a curator of transportation the Henry Ford museum in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).
The first all paths that are offered in the european market, the Toyota, the Honda, or the same Jeep marketed by Renault, have not had the very easy path, mainly due to the geared up petrol engines quite powerful and thirsty for the time: block of two liters for the japanese and up to four litres to the american model. Yes it is true that the Jeep Cherokee sold in Europe by Renault fitted a block diesel supercharged, 114 horses manufactured by VM Motori, but even so, its market acceptance was low-key.
What happens now?
In the current market things have changed a lot and the offer also what makes in Spain SUV exceed 25% of the sales. But of course, once again, this figure turns to be a trap. What a Citroën C4 Cactus is a SUV? What about a Hyundai i20 Active? Their respective manufacturers say that if but with the cm in the hand, the Citroën C4 Cactus is only 6 mm taller than a Citroen C3 second generation and the Hyundai i20 Active is unlike the rest of the brothers of range, in addition to the usual roof rails and moldings plastic, to offer 2 more inches of ground clearance.
With this I want to say that with the passage of years, the terms SUV, Crossover and all the way have experienced a very important change in its meaning. Are no longer used to designate vehicles with a certain but limited skills range and is now used to refer to vehicles manufactured under a trend aesthetic brings a certain robustness, visual but that does not account for anything in the behavior of these vehicles off the road (usually mediocre, not to say directly bad).
In this respect, it is worth remembering how during the world presentation to the press of the Porsche Macan, it had to be “rescued” by a Dacia Duster…
Who loses with the rise of the SUV?
The acceptance of the vehicles SUV in the european markets threatening to other segments more traditional look to reduce gradually its sales volume. For example, the hatchback averages are on the decline and so only the German groups BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen hold about figures acceptable sales. Another segment that is disappearing is the all terrain “truth.” Today, those who need a all terrain low-range should be set in Lada 4×4, Suzuki Jimny, or make an investment of close to € 40,000 as a minimum.
potential customers of vehicle type SUV tend to look at them for a matter of image, versatility, safety or security, taking into account that even in the purchasing process, more than 90 percent of the customers are aware of that will never use SUV off the road. What, then, are some of these arguments?
In terms of image and taste can not intercede. It is an option that is totally personal and we should all respect. The versatility, however, is something on which you can discuss with objective terms.
SUV most sold in Spain in the year 2016 was the Nissan Qashqai with more than 25,000 vehicles registered. Many of the people who looked at this car for its versatility could have been fixed for example in the Citroen C4 Picasso, that with a little more than half of units sold with respect to the japanese, is a car more spacious, more comfortable and with more luggage than the Nissan. But that is not an image of robustness that it gives you security and much like the market.
The security of a SUV vs sedans
Before discussing the alleged security provided by the SUV compared to the sedans conventional, it is useful to divide the security offered by a car in three divisions:
- psychological Safety: refers to the degree of security or tranquility that transmits a vehicle and, although it is an abstraction, is related with the levels of passive safety and active. Without reason, a measurable one, as a general rule we feel safer in large vehicles, for example, in a utility.
- active Safety: Is the set of elements that favor the physical stability and dynamics of a vehicle and that to a certain extent to avoid an accident. An example of this section can be the stability control.
- passive Safety: Is the set of elements of a vehicle, in the event of an accident, are designed to minimise the personal damage such as seatbelts or head restraints.
According to the surveys made constantly to both the press of the engine as the same manufacturers, the psychological safety, which provides a SUV is on some levels extremely high on the part of their potential market, and is often a important sales argument, especially in regard to the fact sit slightly above the average, and enveloped by a great quantity of plate, what also plays a role in more aggressive driving.
however, in a brief dynamic test, any driver can notice that a all the way is a vehicle that has a more weight in relation to a tourism equivalent. This increased mass makes thes inertia of this type of cars are very superior and that evasive maneuvers are more difficult. It is true that the progress in the matter of suspension make these cars more tall and heavy to be circulated by highway or highway with a comfort beyond all doubt, but what happens when they get the bends? As comfort seems to disappear. Today the SUV tend to equip suspensions rather hard and some (expensive) low profile tires that allow to minimize the rocking of the vehicle, but this is just a makeup. In addition, much as we strive to be the commercial, a vehicle, the higher it is, the more risk you will have to dump. Another very important point, especially now that many SUV using platform shared with passenger cars “conventional”, is that the greater inertia of these vehicles make braking distances lengthen.
Another problem resulting from this is the image of ruggedness that the designers want to give their products is all relative to the visibility. On-road driving, the fact of sitting in a higher position can give you the feeling of having more forward visibility. However, it is easy to understand that if we set the sight on a target located for example at 100 meters, the fact of sitting 15 centimeters higher or lower has an importance that is almost non-existent. Which yes can lead to some other problem is the lack of rear visibility that occurs with a structure as solid, which is not necessarily rigid, that they have some of the latest products coming to the market. In this aspect I question the aspect that have the C-pillars in certain cars, such as the Kia Sportage or Audi Q2, where it has sacrificed the visibility and brightness, interior in favor of a design more robust?
Now that already almost does not remain to vehicles manufactured with chassis side rails, the passive safety of these vehicles is in an awkward position in respect to vehicles with a body more low. In the event of a crash, the greater height of the SUV makes the impact zone is situated above the structures of shock vehicle lower. This will make the car more under the that suffer further damage, even if it is a car much larger than the all the way that hits him, which represents a clear advantage of the SUV with respect to tourism.
however this advantage becomes negative when a car is under the one that hit the SUV sideways. It is true that the users of a Crossover have the hip somewhat higher than what would be the impact zone, but if the car that hits it is sufficiently low, for example a Porsche 911 against a Porsche Cayenne, can be the case that the side airbags do not inflate at the appropriate time (right at the time of the collision), but that it’s triggered by the deformation of the body. Logically, in case of being struck laterally it is not unreasonable to think that the all the way have a much higher risk of capsize than, for example, a utilitarian.
In summary, the greater part of los SUV that are offered on the market are not as versatile or as robust as they want us to think. Moreover, it may even represent a step backward in terms of security with respect to a tourism equivalent. However, most of the drivers who choose a vehicle of these characteristics make for issues of versatility, robustness and security.
Who is to blame for this? As you never know if the marks or bars of the bars, but what is clear is that there is no relationship between the reality of our country and that more than a quarter of the registered vehicles in the year 2016 to have aspect, and only aspect, of all terrain.