Top 4 Features to Look for When Purchasing a New SUV

February 3rd, 2022 by

You have many different options when shopping for a new ride. But if you’re looking for a vehicle with sporty features for off-roading adventures, an SUV might be the best option. 

Check out the main factors to consider when buying a new or pre-owned SUV.


The SUV segment is split into several size categories so buyers can select just the right models for their needs. The smallest option is the subcompact SUV, or mini SUV. Next up is the compact SUV, also called a compact crossover. Further on the ladder is a midsize SUV, which offers more interior space for passengers and cargo. Some midsize models include a third row of seating to increase the capacity. Finally, full-size SUVs are the largest options available, with some manufacturers even offering extended-length versions of these models.

Basically, the size of the SUV you select will determine how many people you can transport in it and how much cargo it can hold. If you need space for a large crew, consider a midsize or full-size SUV. In contrast, subcompact and compact SUVs are similar to compact sedans in the interior space they provide. Due to this little room, taller drivers and those with bulky car seats for kids might need to step up to the next category to get the space they need for comfort.

Off-Road Capabilities

Suppose off-roading is central to why you’re considering an SUV. In that case, it’s important to choose a model that can handle your adventurous lifestyle. Granted, an SUV seems to handle rough terrain better than a sedan. But several factors affect SUVs’ performance off the beaten path. The first is wheel configuration. An SUV with a two-wheel-drive layout won’t handle as well over rugged terrain as one with an all-wheel or four-wheel drivetrain.

A four-wheel-drive vehicle includes two axles and a drivetrain that can supply power to all four wheels at the same time. Some four-wheel-drive systems provide power all the time, known as full-time four-wheel drive, while others deliver power on demand — i.e., to the wheel that needs it. A four-wheel-drive system may also include a transfer case, which provides additional gear ranges and another output drive shaft.

On the other hand, some SUVs are in an all-wheel-drive layout, similar to four-wheel drive, but usually only activates when needed. For example, if a wheel can’t spin due to heavy snow or mud, the system will send extra power to the stuck wheel so it can break free. That said, both four-wheel and all-wheel drives provide additional traction for improved handling in snow, mud, or ice.

Another factor to consider is the ground clearance of the SUV. Although most SUVs sit a bit higher than sedans, the ground clearance determines whether SUVs can climb over rocky or rough surfaces. Driving a model with low ride height over trails could damage the engine and other exposed components. The good news is, vehicles designed for off-roading often include additional protective features, such as skid plates, to cover the engine and other vital parts. 

The bottom line is, if you want to take your SUV off the road, make sure to select a model that can handle it.

Active Driver Aids

Many newer SUVs include active driver aids to better protect the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other road users. Some of the features you may want on your next SUV include: 

Adaptive Cruise Control

An adaptive cruise control system can maintain a predetermined speed — though it must be within the speed limit — and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead on the road. This system can also engage the brakes or accelerate when needed, keeping your car at the speed you selected. Some adaptive cruise control systems include stop-and-go functionality, which can bring the SUV to a complete stop or accelerate to get up to the chosen speed once again.

Automatic Emergency Braking

Also known as collision avoidance, automatic emergency braking can apply the brakes for you if a collision is impending. This feature typically comes bundled with a collision-alert system and can give an auditory or visual warning that you need to apply the brakes. If you don’t hit the brake pedal soon enough, the emergency braking system can activate to prevent a crash or to lessen the force of the collision.

Blind-Spot Monitoring

Blind-spot monitoring alerts you when another vehicle is in your vehicle’s blind spot on either side. This system generally comes with an icon in both side mirrors, which can illuminate when sensors detect a vehicle in the blind spot. If you engage your turn signal when another car enters your blind spot, the system may emit an auditory warning or flash the illuminated icon in the side mirror to alert you not to change lanes.

Head-Up Display

A head-up display projects important information on the windshield in the driver’s line of sight so they don’t have to take their eyes off the road.

Lane-Departure Warning

Lane-departure warning alerts you if your car is veering outside of its lane. When coupled with lane-keeping assist, the system can gently nudge the vehicle back into its lane and vibrate the steering wheel to alert you.

Rear cross-traffic alert

Often paired with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert warns you when a car is passing behind you as you’re reversing.

All in all, when comparing features, consider those that can make your vehicle safer. You might qualify for a lower insurance rate when your car has some or all of these advanced active driver aids, which can help offset the likely higher purchase price.

Crossover Body Style

A crossover SUV shares some of its platform elements with a passenger vehicle, such as a sedan, to deliver a more comfortable ride. More traditional SUVs built over a decade ago often had fewer comfort features, offering a ride that was similar to a truck’s in overall comfort. Even some of the SUVs available today still use a truck-based platform to improve off-road performance and capability. So, if you want a more comfortable driving experience, consider a crossover SUV rather than a traditional, truck-based model.

Shop the selection of high-quality SUVs at North Coast Auto Mall. You can choose from models with these features and ensure that you get your favorite at a competitive price.

Posted in Used Cars