Many people say that living in a city means owning a car is optional, and in some cases, that’s true. However, even in the city, not having a car can become a hindrance. Busy schedules, frequent travel plans, or transporting cargo are tough to navigate with public transit, and the problem can be amplified if your city’s public transit is unreliable.
If you’re looking to get a car for the city, you might wonder if an SUV is the right choice. While SUVs aren’t the most efficient choice for cities, they offer space and height that sedans don’t. Discover what makes an SUV city-friendly and explore the best SUVs for city life.
What Makes an SUV Good for City Living?
With the space confines of city life, it’s likely already clear that you’ll need a smaller SUV. However, finding a city-friendly SUV isn’t synonymous with finding the best small SUV. You’ll also want to consider fuel economy, the type of fuel, and your own individual needs.
Cities are already tight on space, and SUVs are only getting larger. Compact SUVs are a far better size for cramped city streets and parking spots. Depending on your needs and the city you live in, some midsize SUVs may also be a good option.
Good City Mileage
The fuel efficiency of gasoline-powered cars varies depending on where you’re driving: city driving means frequent stops and starts, while highway driving means continuous driving without stopping. An SUV with good fuel economy on city streets would benefit most city residents, as it doesn’t use up as much fuel.
An SUV’s fuel economy can vary depending on its build. For example, a front-wheel drive SUV typically has slightly better fuel efficiency than a four-wheel or all-wheel drive. However, not all SUVs have front-wheel drive models.
Fits Your Needs
Even in the city, everyone’s lifestyle is different, so it’s crucial that your SUV can meet your needs. That might mean having extra cargo space, all-wheel drive for the winter, or off-roading capability.
For example, dog owners may benefit from an SUV with a larger cargo area to accommodate their canine companion. Similarly, those who hike or camp regularly may want an SUV that handles well on unpaved roads.
Not everyone can afford an electric or plug-in hybrid SUV. However, for those who can, they’re a great option for cities. EV charging stations are commonplace in cities, providing plenty of places to charge your car. You can locate electric charging stations in your city with an EV charging station map provided by energy.gov.
Drivers of electric SUVs will also see significant financial benefits. Charging your car is cheaper than getting gas, and electric cars require less maintenance than gasoline-powered cars. Additionally, purchasing or leasing an EV or plug-in hybrid makes you eligible for federal tax write-offs, and your state or local government may offer additional tax benefits.
The Best SUVs for City Dwellers
No matter your lifestyle or the city you live in, there’s an SUV out there that suits your needs. Check out the best city-friendly SUVs on the market.
Hyundai KONA Electric
The all-electric Hyundai KONA is undoubtedly one of the best options for those who need to hit the city streets. The subcompact SUV achieves 132 MPGe on city roads, rounding out to a combined 120 MPGe. The SUV is equipped with modern safety features (like automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring), and it also comes with great amenities, like compatibility with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and available heated front seats.
Hyundai offers the KONA EV in two trims: the KONA EV SEL and the KONA EV Limited. The Limited is built with premium features not available in the SEL, like rain-activated windshield wipers, automated cruise control, standard wireless charging, and ventilated front seats.
Toyota’s RAV4 model is one of the most popular SUVs on the market and for good reason. The compact SUV isn’t short on space: while it only seats five people, it can fit 69.8 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded down. Its sturdy frame and SofTex synthetic leather seats provide a comfortable ride for a wide variety of drivers and passengers alike.
When it comes to gasoline-powered vehicles, the hybrid RAV4 is the most fuel-efficient of the RAV4 lineup, reaching 41 MPG in the city. For those who want a more eco-friendly option, the plug-in RAV4 Prime provides all the features of the RAV4, plus the ability to fuel your SUV with both gas and electricity.
Don’t let the name fool you: the compact Subaru Crosstrek can traverse rugged terrain and city streets alike. The all-wheel drive Crosstrek reaches 28 MPG on city streets, seats five, and offers 55.3 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold down the rear seats. It’s also built to handle gentle off-roading, so you’ll still experience a smooth ride, even on unpaved terrain.
The plug-in hybrid Crosstrek is just another nod to the vehicle’s versatility, so you can go electric on city streets and use gas for your off-road adventures. While it offers slightly less space than the gasoline-powered version, it has most of the same features otherwise.
The compact Mazda CX-5 is nothing to scoff at. Though there are eight different trim levels, all CX-5s share a number of features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, adaptive cruise control, and an infotainment system with a 10.25-inch screen.
It provides modern safety features like blind spot monitoring and offers E911 services. If you pair your phone with the car, it will automatically call 911 if you get into a bad car accident.
The CX-5 proves more efficient on the highway than on city streets. Depending on whether your Mazda has a turbocharged engine or not, you’ll be looking at 22 or 24 MPG in the city, compared to 27 or 30 MPG on the highway. For city dwellers who frequently travel out of town, however, that might make the CX-5 even more appealing.
Those looking for a more luxurious ride may like the BMW X1. The X1’s fuel economy (24 MPG on city streets, 33 MPG on the highway) makes it a better choice for long-distance commuters, but its precise handling makes up for it. The five-seater is surprisingly roomy: this SUV provides 27.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seat up and easily expands to 58.7 cubic feet when you fold the back seat down.
What’s more, the X1 has been redesigned for 2023. With an all-new sleek exterior, improved engine and body, and wide touchscreen infotainment system, this upgrade makes the car look as luxurious as it feels.
Find the Best SUV for Your Lifestyle with SUViews
Amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, finding time to page through the abundance of SUVs on the market can be challenging. That’s why SUViews is here to help. Check out our blog posts and browse our SUV reviews to determine which SUV is best for you. No matter the reason for your SUV search, you can rest assured that you’ll find the right SUV for your needs.