Compact, Midsize or Full-Size: Which SUV is Right for You?


SUVs are confusing enough, but they also come in three different sizes. If you’re struggling making a decision, here’s what you need to know to make the right choice,

The Sizing

How big do you want to go? SUVs  come in three basic sizes:

  • Compact
  • Midsize
  • Full-size

Compact SUVs, of course, are the smallest, with midsize being more like fullsize vehicles but usually missing that extra row of space. Full-size SUVs typically have more horsepower and slightly more room than midsized vehicles. The biggest difference between a midsize and a full-sized SUV is usually the engine and an additional row of cargo space.

With a full-sized SUV, you’re usually going to get a V-8, as opposed to a V-6 (midsize) or I-4 (Compact).

Passenger Room

Passenger room varies on all models of SUVs. Some only comfortably seat 5, while the full-sized 2016 Kia Sorento can seat up to 7. Passenger room also needs to be balanced with cargo room and needs. If you take a lot of road trips, or go on a lot of vacations, you’ll want fold-down seats. If you have pets, this is probably a “must-have” feature.

Always test drive the vehicle assuming different scenarios. Take your family with you so that you can all pile into the vehicle together, and see what it’s like to drive under different conditions.


Environmental Concerns

Many people are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint. If this is you, you’ll want a smaller SUV with a ecoboost engine (turbocharged for fuel efficiency) or a hybrid drive. Or, if you want to really save on fuel, get a combination drive, which consists of a traditional engine that’s turbocharged for fuel efficiency and is mated to an electric motor.

What Are You Transporting?

A lot of your decision will be driven by the number of people you have to move from point “A” to point “B.” If you have a large family, a midsize vehicle might be your only option. Some families can get away with a compact, but these SUVs typically only offer seating for 4.

Midsized vehicles can often accommodate another passenger, sometimes two.

If you have a lot of children, or you expect to carry a lot of cargo, you might need to go full-sized just for the room. Yes, it’s an additional expense, but few other vehicles can compete when your needs are so great.

Gas Mileage

Today, it’s on everyone’s mind. How much are you spending on gasoline at the pump? With an SUV, you know you’ll spend more. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole paycheck on fuel. Smaller, compact, SUVs don’t eat up as much fuel. But, they also don’t have the space of a full-sized vehicle.

Expect somewhere between high teens and 25 MPG. For midsized SUVs, you will see anywhere between the mid teens and 20. And, for a large SUV, you might only get to the mid teens.

If you have any desire to conserve fuel, stay far away from the full-sized SUVs.

Jesse Murrillo works in education and has a large family which she needs to transport in safety. She always enjoys the opportunity to share her own experiences with others online. Jesse is a regular writer for a number of family and leisure websites.