SUVs take the cake

Kathmandu, August 2:

Nepal’s varied geographical terrain, with large tracts having off-road conditions, demands a

vehicle with an engine that provides power, performance and style. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) offer such versatility and have already caught the fancy of auto-buffs.

Introduced roughly over a decade ago in Nepal, SUVs now hold a significant share of the domestic market. With more than a dozen choices on offer, auto lovers now find it difficult to choose the right one.

Despite being primarily an off-road vehicle, SUV in Nepal is liked by the younger generation even for the city driving. No wonder, it is being sold over 50 units a month. It is slowly creating a rage in the market.

Consequently, consumers are paying top dough for these popular new vehicles as automakers seize the opportunity, bringing to market a range of new and exciting all-purpose vehicles.

The SUV is characterised as a luxury cabin with a fusion of comfort, class, elegance and swanky looks.

Toyota’s RAV 4, X-trail by Nissan and Terios from Daihatsu are Japanese models being marketed in Nepal, which have a dominant presence in this segment. Kia’s Sportage and Sorento, Hyundai’s Tucson and Santa-Fe, CRV of Honda and Suzuki’s Grand Vitara currently head the ‘most- wanted’ list in this segment. Indian made Scorpio and Tata Safari and Korean Ssang Yong are on the top list.

Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are available in a wide range of sizes and prices. Mid-sized models typically provide better balance of interior space, fuel economy, engine power, and price. Smaller SUVs are typically less expensive and get better fuel economy, but have less passenger and cargo space. Larger models provide more room and towing capacity, but get poor gas mileage.

Why buy an SUV?

SUVs have different appeals for different types of drivers. They provide the most overall versatility of any vehicle type. They provide versatile cargo-carrying space, a higher driving position than passenger cars, varying amounts of towing capacity, and in models with three rows of seats, the ability to carry seven or eight people. With an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive system, they also provide extra traction in slippery conditions and the ability to tackle at least moderate off-road terrains. However, because of their taller height, SUVs as a class are not as nimble as passenger cars and can more easily roll over in emergency handling maneuvers.

SUV types

Generally there are two types of SUVs, car-based and truck-based. Car-based SUVs—which have become popular in recent years-are built on car-like unibody platforms and use a fully independent suspension and all-wheel drive. They typically provide better handling, ride comfort, and fuel economy than a traditional, truck-based model and generally are rated higher overall in crash testing. They can be driven in moderate off-road situations, but aren’t designed for more challenging off-road conditions, such as traversing high rocks or water, deep sand, or steep inclines or descends.

Engines and transmissions

Most SUVs come with a six-cylinder engine, which provides the best balance between power and fuel economy. Some midsize and large models are

available with a V8 that delivers effortless acceleration and is better for heavy

towing, but usually takes a bigger toll in gas mileage. Some smaller SUVs use a four-cylinder engine, which gets better fuel economy but can lack power.

Automatic transmission

A few offer a manual transmission, which is generally more fuel-efficient. The Nissan Murano is available with a continuously variable transmission, which is automatic and offers fuel economy. Some automatic types now offer a manual-shift mode, which allows driver to shift as with a manual, but without need for a clutch.


All SUVs are available with either four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), and many truck-based SUVs still offer rear-wheel-drive versions. Both 4WD and AWD provide power to all four wheels, but the main difference is that 4WD includes low-range gearing for tackling difficult off-road terrain, such as rocks or steep off-pavement descents. AWD is typically fine for normal adverse weather conditions and moderate off-road driving.


Virtually all SUVs carry up to five people. Some mid and full-sized models include a third-row seat that increases passenger capacity to seven or eight, depending on the model. But third-row seats are typically tight and are most suitable for children. Most third-row seats fold flat into the rear cargo floor when not in use.

Cargo space

While SUVs offer more cargo space, comparable-sized vans and minivans sometimes offer more. To make the most of an SUV’s cargo capacity, the second and, if available, third-row seats can be folded down.

Safety features

All new vehicles have standard dual front air bags, three-point safety belts in the outboard seating positions, and top-tether and LATCH child-seat attachments in the rear seats. Many models offer side air bags and/or head-protection bags, typically a side-curtain design that protects people in both the front and second-row seats. Statistics show that SUVs, as a class, have a higher percentage of single-vehicle rollover accidents than cars.