The flavour of the season is SUVs, with more buyers opting for SUVs over sedans for a number of reasons. Most buyers are first-time buyers of SUVs upgrading from a hatchback or a sedan to an SUV. But should you really buy an SUV or should you consider a sedan?

We look at the pros and cons of both. However, if you look at market realities, in the past one year SUVs have been killing the sedan market. Case in point is the Rs. 12 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh price segment. The Mahindra XUV500 and the Renault Duster at the lower end have together shrunk the market for sedans. The total sedan sales in that price segment is not more than 1,500 cars a month, while the XUV500 alone sells over 3,500 vehicles a month in the same price segment. Also read: Mahindra XUV500: Annihilating the premium sedan segment!

Why are SUVs selling so much? Here are some thoughts.

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Advantages of SUVs

SUVs have some inherent advantages such as high ground clearance, which gives them better abilty to tackle bad roads. Many are also spacious seven seaters (not the compact SUVs, but full-size ones), which allow you the flexibility of space to carry more people or luggage as the case may be. Those who travel in snow or desert conditions can opt for an SUV with a 4×4 system, which will help easily traverse such extreme conditions.

The high driving position allows drivers a better view of the road and traffic conditions, making it easier to negotiate traffic. The sheer size and road presence of SUVs also is an advantage as it can muscle its way past autos, cyclists and two-wheelers, who would otherwise not really give way to a sedan. Also read: Renault Duster beats the longest best-selling SUV

Disadvantage of SUVs

However, many sedan buyers who opt for SUVs for the first time are shocked by some factors. The scariest of which is the handling. Not all SUVs handle like cars. Body roll is a very real bugbear with SUVs, except for crossovers like the Duster, Koleos and CR-V, which have almost car-like handling. All the others need to be driven with some care. Many SUVs carry more bulk and that affects their braking and cornering abilities to quite an extent. Also read: Could the Ertiga, Duster, EcoSport destroy sedans?

Also being heavier and carrying more kerb weight, the power-to-weight ratio is not that great (except again for some compact SUVs), which tells on the performance figures. In instant acceleration an equivalent sedan may be faster. Ride quality too is probably better in most sedans than SUVs, which tend to get bouncy and toss occupants around on moderately undulating roads. Of course, there are some exceptions. And that goes for fuel economy too – an SUV would be less fuel-efficient than an equivalent sedan.

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Advantages of sedans

Sedans often look more classy than an SUV. They are more aerodynamic in styling and closer to the ground, which improves their handling characteristics considerably. If you have a need for speed a sedan would any day be better on a highway or race track than an SUV. Being lighter and more aerodynamic, most sedans often have better performance compared to an equally powerful SUV. Ride quality for four passengers is much better in most sedans than SUVs. Being lighter also contributes to better fuel economy as well in most cases. Even if you compare features, a sedan at the same price as an SUV is likely to have more features, because it is more expensive to build SUVs as they are bigger, and hence features get added only in the more expensive variants. Also read: Choosing the best vehicle for cross-country drives

Disadvantages of a sedan

There are some inherent disadvantages of a sedan as well. Ground clearance and ability to handle bad roads is one of the biggest disadvantages. The flexibility to carry more people or luggage as well is a disadvantage. And then there’s the driving position, one just does not get the confidence that an SUV offers in traffic in a sedan.

In terms of safety, both are relatively similar. An SUV may survive a crash better than a sedan because of more sheet metal, but it is more prone to rolling over than a sedan. These days, both SUVs and sedans are equipped with multiple airbags, ABS and traction control systems making them both relatively safe. Also read: Best cars for highway driving 

If you are a buyer who travels bad roads often or carries more people and luggage from time to time, opt for an SUV. But if you love driving and usually stick to highways and expressways with only three to four people on board, a sedan would be a better choice.