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Page 1: Intro
It looked like a good buy. The color was right, it had a fair amount of horsepower, it looked great – and there was a nice fat rebate dangling at the end of the contract.So I bought it, and boy, did I ever buy it. A few weeks later, it dawned on me that my great new suv was actually built for Eskimos – people who need a vehicle that does well in the snow and can do some serious off-road work.
All I wanted to do was get to work every day.
I should have purchased a car-based SUV, and not a macho truck-based utility vehicle. One that drives more like a car than a truck, one that feels at home on the freeway – not the outback. SUVs break out into these two basic categories: car, and truck based. Car based SUVs are built for highway driving, family transportation. Most are built via a unibody construction and have front and rear independent suspensions.
Truck-based SUVs are much different. These are truly utility vehicles, built for off-roading and towing, and many are constructed body on frame and designed not so much for comfort as they are for ruggedness.
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Page 2: Differences
Electronic Stability Control: You’re driving a big load of steel with an engine that can go faster than you can control. Electronic stability control systems help you keep things in control by constantly monitoring tire speed, steering wheel angle – just about everything – and applies control by way of braking or slowing engine speed, as necessary. This type of technology makes SUVs much safer by keeping these behemoths on their feet and under control.
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Page 3: Third row
Rear Climate Control: Instead of waiting for that nice cool air to filter its way to the back, make sure that the SUV you buy has rear seat ducts, preferably in the ceiling for maximum environmental coverage.
Rear Independent Suspension: If you don’t plan to do extensive off-roading or heavy towing, make sure your SUV has an independent rear suspension. Most car-based SUVs offer independent rear suspension, while many truck-based SUVs are built with a live rear axle, in order to provide maximum off-roading and towing capability.
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Page 4: Clearance
All Wheel Drive: For an SUV built to be driven down streets and not gullies, all-wheel drive keeps all four wheels on the road. And while it’s not a critical component, all-wheel drive is very helpful when roads are slick or driving conditions slippery. When tire slippage is detected, an all-wheel drive system will provide power to all wheels, thus helping to control the vehicle.
Towing Capability: What you have to tow, if anything, is critical to your choice of SUV. If you plan to tow a large trailer or boat with your SUV, chances are you will need to focus on truck-based SUVs. While some car-based SUVs can tow small trailers or boats, for real towing turn to truck based SUVs.
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Page 5: FAQs
What are some of the best car-based SUVs? There are many good car-based SUVs, including the Honda Pilot, Ford Escape and Toyota Highlander. And don’t forget about crossover vehicles: the newest of the batch, the Ford Freestyle, offers SUV convenience with a sedan-like ride.
Which type is best? Depends on your needs. For off-roading and towing, truck-based is best. For city driving and commuting, car-based. By matching the vehicle to your needs, you will end up with a more satisfying purchase.
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Page 6: Notes
Chevrolet Equinox SUV: $20,995 - $24,335
Ford Freestyle Wagon: Pricing TBA
Hyundai Tucson SUV: $17,000 - $22,000
Mercury Mariner SUV: Pricing TBA
Land Rover LR3: Pricing TBA
Lexus RX 400h Hybrid SUV: Pricing TBA
Saab 9-7X SUV: Pricing TBA
Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV: Pricing TBA
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