We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Subaru South Africa website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time. You can find detailed information about how cookies are used on this website by visiting our terms and conditions.

The Evolution of SUVs: From Off-Road to Luxury

SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, aren’t your regular types of cars; they’re often simply cooler. Everyone at some point has either wanted or driven an SUV, and not just because they’re comfortable, easy to drive, and significant in size, but also because they’re so practical and versatile for families or adventure-seekers. 

SUVs have definitely come a long way since their invention in the mid-20th century. Did you know that the first prototypes of the SUV appeared before and during World War II and were built to navigate soldiers through the tough war terrain? Spin the clock to today, and SUVs have evolved dramatically, and you can find many different types on the market. 

The SUV is designed for everyone from all walks of life. From those growing their families to road-trip enthusiasts, an SUV is designed to make your life more practical and safer on the road. In this article, we will explore the history of SUVs and their evolution from off-road to luxury vehicles, as well as highlighting some of the top models in each category.

What is a Sport Utility Vehicle?

The SUV is a type of vehicle that combines the features of a station wagon, minivan, and truck. These vehicles have a high ground clearance and a body-on-frame construction, which means the body is mounted on a separate frame, providing increased durability and stability. SUVs are typically equipped with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and are designed to handle a variety of terrains, making them ideal for off-road use.

Kinds of SUVs

There are four main kinds of SUVs: compact, mid-size, full-size, and crossover. Let’s get into each one below:

  • Compact SUVs are smaller in size and designed for city driving. They can fit up to five passengers and offer better fuel efficiency in comparison to full-size SUVs.
  • Mid-size SUVs are made to accommodate passengers for longer trips as they offer more room and power. They provide a middle balance between compact and full-size SUVs, making them suitable for large families and off-road adventures.
  • Full-size SUVs are the largest and most powerful, offering maximum space and performance for up to eight passengers. If ever you need an SUV that has everything you need in a car, the full-size SUV is the one for you.
  • Crossover SUVs are a hybrid between traditional SUVs and passenger cars. They offer the handling and fuel economy of a car with the space and versatility of an SUV.

What’s Made SUVs So Popular?

SUVs gained popularity in the 1990s primarily as a result of rising demand for roomy, adaptable vehicles that offered more than just aesthetic appeal. SUVs are more advanced than passenger cars and offer much more room for passengers and cargo, making them a popular choice for families and those who need to do grocery runs or haul equipment or gear. 

SUVs are more advanced than passenger cars and offer much more room for passengers and cargo

The perception of safety and security also contributed to the rise of SUVs, with many consumers believing that the higher riding position and rugged construction made them safer in the event of an accident. Additionally, SUVs were one-up in their game and offered outdoor and off-road capabilities, making them ideal for adventurous drivers and road-trip enthusiasts.

Do SUVs Last?

SUVs are designed to be durable and long-lasting, but just like any other vehicle, their lifespan is entirely influenced by several factors. Such factors include proper maintenance and upkeep, driving habits, and the age of the vehicle. Regular oil changes, tune-ups, and other routine maintenance can help extend the life of an SUV. Driving habits such as aggressive acceleration, hard braking, and rough terrain can also take a toll on an SUV’s longevity, so we don’t recommend you do this.

Over time, parts will wear out, and repairs will be needed. Try to stay on top of repairs and replace worn parts promptly to keep the SUV running smoothly. Despite the potential for repairs, SUVs can last a long time with proper care and maintenance. Many SUV owners report keeping their vehicles for 10 years or more, with some models lasting up to 200,000 miles or more. This just goes to show the power that when you look after something, it lasts.

Who Introduced the First SUV?

While the term “SUV” was not officially a thing until the 1980s, some of the first SUVs can be traced back to the early 20th century. Early predecessors of SUVs included vehicles like the Willys Overland Wagon and the Chevrolet Suburban, which were designed to be rugged, multipurpose vehicles capable of carrying both passengers and cargo.

However, it was the launch of the Ford Bronco and International Harvester Scout in the 1960s that marked the beginning of the modern SUV era. These vehicles were built on truck frames and offered four-wheel drive and off-road capabilities, making them popular among outdoor enthusiasts and off-road drivers.

In the 1980s, the popularity of SUVs began to skyrocket, with new models like the Jeep Cherokee and Chevrolet Blazer turning heads in the market. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that SUVs really took off in popularity, with many families opting for these versatile vehicles as a more spacious and versatile alternative to minivans and station wagons.

SUVs have come a long way since their early days as rough-and-tumble off-road war vehicles. Today, they are available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and price points, from compact crossovers to full-size luxury SUVs.

Whether you’re in the market for a family-friendly SUV or a rugged off-road vehicle, there are many great options to choose from. And with proper maintenance and care, SUVs can provide reliable, long-lasting transportation for years to come.

Subaru has been at the forefront of SUV innovation and design for decades, and for this reason, we’re proud to offer a range of high-quality SUVs that are both safe and reliable. If you’re looking for a family-friendly SUV with rugged capabilities and unmatched luxury, Subaru has a model that is sure to meet your needs.

So, visit your nearest Subaru dealership for an unforgettable new and pre-owned car buying experience, and book a test drive today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a crossover SUV and a traditional SUV?

Crossover SUVs are built on a car platform, which makes them smaller, more fuel-efficient, and easier to handle than traditional SUVs. They also tend to have a unibody construction, which means that the body and frame are one piece, as opposed to a traditional SUV’s body-on-frame construction. This makes crossover SUVs lighter and more agile than traditional SUVs, which are generally better suited for off-road driving.

Are SUVs more expensive to maintain than other types of vehicles?

SUVs can be more expensive to maintain than other types of vehicles, particularly if they have a larger engine or require special parts or services. However, proper maintenance and regular servicing can help extend the lifespan of an SUV and reduce the overall cost of ownership.

How do I know which SUV is the best fit for my family’s needs?

Choosing the right SUV for your family depends on a variety of factors, including your budget, driving needs, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Some important factors to consider when choosing an SUV include fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, passenger seating, safety features, and towing capacity. It’s also a good idea to test drive several different SUVs before making a final decision.

Subaru Heritage

Find a Subaru dealer today

Whether you’re a speed junkie who is keen to get behind the wheel of the powerful WRX STi or a family of four looking for off-road adventures in the Forester, you’ll be able to find the vehicle that suits your life and lifestyle at a Subaru dealer today.

We have premium dealers from our specialised Subaru network that are equipped to help you find the make and model of your dreams.

Find a Dealership now

You’re welcome to book a drive in the vehicle of your choice as well. Simply fill in our easy-to-use online form and your nearest dealer will contact you to set up a convenient date and time for the test drive.

Book a test drive

Subaru - pure driving enjoyment.