Are SUVs Better for Long Distance Driving? ( Solved & Explained)

From soccer moms to surfer dudes, the SUV attracts a wide audience, and their popularity with new car shoppers is growing each year.

We all know the SUV is bigger and roomier than your average sedan, but when it comes to long distance driving which one is the optimal mode of transport?

And for those looking to buy an SUV you might be wondering just how road-trip-friendly these vehicles really are…

We’ll cover all this and more in this article, read on to find out!

Here is the short answer to are SUVs better for Long Distance Driving: 

SUVs are generally better for long-distance driving and road trips when compared to smaller cars or sedans. This is because they have lots of space for passengers to ride comfortably, more cargo space for luggage, equipment and supplies, and many have good fuel economy despite their size. 

Are SUVs Better for Long Distance Driving and Road Trips? 

SUVs are better suited for long distance driving than most types of vehicles. The main reasons for this are: 

  • Increased cargo and cabin space 
  • Increased passenger comfort
  • Entertainment systems 
  • Greater towing capacity 

As a general rule, an SUV will make driving a long distance a lot easier for most. SUVs are always going to be more comfortable than sedans and can seat more people as well.

SUVs also have tons of space for belongings, and seats that fold down to offer even more space. Basically, combine a station wagon with a truck and you get the best of both worlds. 

People seem to just enjoy SUVs more nowadays. You sit higher up which provides better views and makes getting in and out easier.

Most SUVs also come equipped with AWD, or 4×4. When the road conditions are questionable, these are the optimal drivetrain options.

If you had a choice between a 2WD car, and a 4×4 SUV on a long winter drive, you  would be crazy not to pick the latter – the higher ground clearance and increased traction making the SUV a clear winner. 

With advances in auto engineering, there are many SUVs on the market today that handle almost as well as a car.

Handling relates to how well a car can go around corners or turns at higher speeds, and due to their high center of gravity SUVs aren’t as capable in this department as their smaller counterparts, however for long family drives taking a corner at speed shouldn’t be on your priority list.

Which is Best for Long Drives, Sedan or SUV? 

Without a doubt SUVs are much better for long drives.

Sedans are not as comfortable, cannot seat as many people, and have less cargo space.

The majority of sedans do not come with as many passenger comforts as well, like rear entertainment systems, or rear A/C.

All in all, if you do frequent road trips or long  drives, the SUV will fair much better. 

What Features Make SUVs Better for Long Distance Driving?

Many different factors make SUVs better for long distance driving, such as:

Increased Passenger Space 

The increased space for passengers, and well as three rows of seats in most SUVs,  means a comfortable ride for you and the family.

Most cars do not have the type of cabin space that an SUV can offer, and will in turn be less comfortable during a long-distance road trip.

Kids can space out so they aren’t jammed three in a row,  in turn preventing fighting over the window seat and less stressed-out parents trying to defuse arguments. 

Increased Cargo Space 

Another aspect of space, is cargo space.

The amount of supplies – from luggage to coolers and tents – that you can fit in an SUV will be much more than an average sedan.

In a sedan you might have to fill the backseat or fold the seats down as well, something you probably can stay away from in an SUV.

If you do have to fold down the seats in an SUV, it just means that much more space. Furthermore,  strapping a kayak or bikes to the top of an SUV will be much easier. 

Entertainment Systems 

Some luxury or high trim level SUVs come with an entertainment system.

This system features Blu-ray or DVD players that can keep the children quiet and entertained for hours, so you can remain focused on the road.

Even adults can take advantage of watching their favorite sitcom on a screen in the back, curing  the boredom that a long drive brings. 

Towing Capacity 

Maybe not all long drives or road trips require a boat or a trailer, but if it does, an SUV has you covered.

Sure, you could use a truck for this, but many SUVs have high towing capacities, so you do not have to sacrifice the third row of seats while you tow your boat to the marina.

SUVs offer the best of both worlds – luxurious driving with passenger comfort, and robust towing capabilities. 

Full-Size Spare Tire

While less and less SUVs are coming with full size spare tires, a healthy number of  SUVs have them.

This makes the inconvenience of a flat tire miles away from home much less of a headache.

With a small spare, (donut) you cannot drive at the vehicle’s desired speed and handling is greatly affected.

With a full size spare you can continue on driving as if nothing even happened once you have changed the  tire. 

What are the Disadvantages of SUVs for Long Distance Driving? 

While the pros of driving an SUV are apparent, what are the cons? Here are some  of the negative aspects of driving an SUV: 

Increased Fuel Consumption 

A downside of the SUV that cannot go unnoticed, would be the increased fuel consumption.

Yes, it’s probably obvious that a Chevrolet Suburban will use ominously more fuel than a Toyota Echo simply due to the weight difference, but if you need the cargo space and the passenger comfort – it is a sacrifice you will have to make.

You can expect longer stops at the gas station and higher costs in fuel.

Subsequently, this makes them less environmentally friendly, however with advances in hybrid and electric technology SUVs are becoming increasingly fuel-efficient.

Poorer Handling and Road Feel 

An SUV will not handle as well as a car, nor will it likely ride as well either.

This is because cars are lower to the ground, and have different suspension designs. 

Also, due to its large, boxy design, the SUV will get blown around the road a bit more by gusts of wind.

From a driver’s perspective, a car might feel better during these scenarios.  

Are SUVs More Comfortable than Sedans?

SUVs are definitely more comfortable than sedans.

They offer more headroom,  more space to stretch your legs, and just more creature comforts in general.

As a whole, more SUVs come with rear climate controls than sedans, and even heated rear seats.

They also do not sit as low, making the getting in/getting out part a lot  easier for its occupants.

These factors all make SUVs considerably more  comfortable than sedans. 

What are the Best SUVs for Long Drives and Road Trips?

Here are some of our top SUV picks for long distance driving:

Kia Telluride/Hyundai Palisade 

The Telluride and the Palisade are built on the same platform and are near  identical SUVs.

They offer 3 rows of seating with the ability to seat up to 8  occupants, and have a very competitive price tag.

Not to mention, great styling  for a brand that is in the process of re-inventing its image.

Telluride/Palisade hit  the nail on the head in terms of SUVs that offer high comfort. 

Honda Pilot 

The Pilot has an abundance of interior and cargo space.

It also comes equipped  with Honda’s 3.5L V6 engine, which has great fuel economy considering the size  of the Pilot.

The Pilot can also have a towing package installed, and has many  creature comforts such as rear entertainment, and rear climate control. 

Dodge Durango 

The Durango is a great long-distance vehicle to ride in.

It has many different powertrain options available, so it can suit many different needs.

It can even tow  up to 8700 lbs, a great feat for an SUV.

Also, thanks to its tried and true eight  speed transmission, the Durango will offer great fuel economy in the smaller engine sizes and smooth shifting. 

Cadillac Escalade 

Easily one of the most luxurious SUVs on the market, and certainly one of the most comfortable.

You can even get the 2021 in a 3.0L diesel engine.

Escalades  are always tailored towards driver comfort and driveability.

If you can afford the  luxury price that comes along with owning a Cadillac, this one might be for you.

You may be interested in our article: how long do Cadillac Escalade last?

Which is Best for Long Drives an SUV or Pick-Up? 

But what about pickup trucks? They are safe, comfortable, and they can tow…

An SUV would still be the better option for long-distance drives. There are plenty of full-frame SUVs out there that can tow just as much as the average pick-up and they are much easier to maneuver into parking spots or on the road.

SUVs are more economical and will typically get better gas mileage than a truck and have much more room for passenger seats, you can easily fit five to seven people comfortably into one SUV.

Pickup-ups certainly have their advantages but for long driving and family road trips the SUV is our recommended choice.

You may also be interested in our article: are SUVs harder to drive?


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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