Suvs, or sport utility vehicles, are typically large vehicles that are built on a light truck frame with a wagon body. The first of its kind was rugged, four-wheel-drive vehicles built for off-road and rural terrain such as the 1973 Range Rover and the Toyota Land Cruiser J60. As time went by, SUVs became more refined and better fit for passengers and on-road terrain, while still retaining its off-road capabilities. Plenty of modern SUVs are still large, 4 wheel drive vehicles, but some car companies are manufacturing smaller SUVs, with a unibody chassis called the crossover.
SUVs are still well suited in tackling off-road and rural terrain, making them popular in the undeveloped areas in the Philippines. Its high ground clearance gives confidence when driving through rough and challenging terrain, clearing debris and crossing water. The added height does shift the center of mass, but modern SUVs are also tuned and refined for highway driving, making it safe at high speeds. Four-wheel-drive makes SUVs capable of crossing slippery and loose terrains, such as mud, sand, snow, ice, and water. This can also be paired with a limited-slip-differential or LSD, or a locking differential. As the name implies, limited slip differentials limit the slip of the differential and locking differentials prevents it from slipping. A differential’s job is to allow wheels on opposing sides to travel at different speeds, which is necessary when the vehicle turning. The simple open differential that comes with most cars gets the job done in many cases, but it allows too much slip, up to the point where all power goes to one wheel. Open differentials are not sufficient for off-road terrain as it easily gets the vehicle stuck. A locking differential is the best option off-road as it allows for no slip at all. It cannot be used on road as it makes it more difficult to turn. LSDs, on the other hand, allows for some slip, which makes it good off road and on road. The capability of the vehicle varies between models, but most are reliable offroad.
Due to the wagon type body of the SUV, most have plenty of space for passengers and cargo. Most SUVs come with a flexible seating configuration. They can fit 7 to 8 people with space for their bags and some cargo; fold the 3rd row and there is enough room to fit a small furniture and 5 occupants; fold the 2nd row for even more cargo, but a trade-off of having only 2 occupants. This makes it great for family use. Because the body doesn’t taper off at the back, 2nd-row passengers get plenty of headroom. Although the suspensions between models and brands are tuned differently, they usually offer a balanced ride in both on road and off-road conditions.
In the Philippines, SUVs are the most popular segment for executives and it not hard to see why. They are tall, imposing and comfortable. An added bonus to its ride height is the “king of the road” feel. Some SUVs even sacrifice their offroading capabilities, and plenty SUVs don’t come with 4-wheel-drive. One such example is the Cadillac Escalade with only 9 inches or 22.9 cm. Executives travelling to new areas often rent SUVs because of its prestige.
Three of the most popular SUVs you may find in the Philippines are the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and the Ford Everest. All these models come with a reliable turbo diesel engine, and 7 seats The Fortuner is the most popular SUV in the Philippines, based on sales. The Fortuner’s 4x4 variant comes with a locking differential and full time 4 wheel drive. It has side folding seats, which might be challenging when loading wider objects Third-row seats are decently spacious thanks to the fact that you can move the seats forward. The Fortuner is great at tackling challenging terrain with 220mm ground clearance, 700mm water wading; but its ride on road has a lot to be desired. The Montero is the second top-selling SUV in the Philippines. The Montero’s 4x4 variant sports a locking differential and an 8-speed transmission. It has a softer ride compared to many SUVs of its class, but common complaints are its body roll. The 3rd-row seats fold flush on the floor, making the rear cargo area wider than the Fortuner. It features 700mm in water wading, and 215mm ground clearance, which is plenty for off-road. The Ford Everest is Ford’s entry to mid-size SUVs. Although the Montero and Fortuner have established their names in the Philippines, the Everest poses as a peer to the duo. The Everest boasts an 800mm in water wading, similar to the Ford Ranger it’s based on; and a 255mm in ground clearance. The 4x4 variant of the SUV only has an LSD, but its more than enough on off-road conditions. The ride is rough on low-speed bumps but nice and smooth on higher speeds. These vehicles are also available for rental in a lot of car rental companies. The Fortuner is also the most available model for rent. Car rentals are a great and affordable way to try out the SUV experience.