Explainer: Why do so many people hate SUVs?

Comment & Analysis: When a hate for SUVs is mentioned there’s often a range of reactions from confusion to gotcha replies (ie someone smartly saying “what about…x, y and z” as if nobody advocating against mass SUV had heard that argument before). But why the hate for SUVs?

If you’re going to ban or restrict SUVs, how do you define them to start with?

For most people this is a fair enough question, but it’s definitely not the gotcha response that some people think it is.

There’s a number of ways you could do it, but the best way would be forget about defending SUVs. Instead, Governments should look to regulate the weight of cars, especially non-commercial use. There can be also be law put in place to regulate out socially undesirable elements of SUVs, such as larger blind sports or poorer sight-lines.

You might or might not agree with the stance, but “ban SUVs” or “tax SUVs” is an acceptable short hand for the above. The term “SUV” can even be a catch-all term for any unnecessarily heavy car, even if the manufacturer doesn’t count it at an SUV. You can get bogged down with definitions or focus on issues that need to be regulated.

A tiny minority of people need SUVs

The exponential growth in the sales of SUVs around the world didn’t happen because there was a rapid increase in some kind of pure need for SUVs. The industry convinced most people to buy then, it wasn’t was something consumers just started to demand. It was planned.

It’s amazing how much the car industry pays on advertising and marketing, and, yet, how much some people think this might have no affect on consumer demand.

Most people don’t need an SUV — the sales of SUVs across the world hugely outnumbers the number of edge cases people mention when others say SUVs are a bad idea.

So, I’m a bad person for owning an SUV?

Who said that exactly? There’s loads of systematic issues where a focus on individuals isn’t helpful in sorting the issue.

For example, while only a minority of people need to carry 5+ people, the car industry’s planned rise of SUVs has likely reduced the other options.

SUVs are more dangerous

SUVs are less safe for people outside then and often those inside them too.

There’s a few factors to this. From the increased weight to the higher driving position which increases the size of the blind spots (both front and rear). Some SUVs also have an increased chances of rolling due to the increased height.

In too many case, the of blind spots or zones of these SUVs tragically increases the chance of children being run over, often by family members reversing or driving out of a driveway.

SUVs increased carbon emissions heavy industry, aviation and shipping

In 2019, The Guardian reported how the International Energy Agency (IEA) made a finding that “stunned even its own researchers” — “No energy sector except power drove a larger increase in carbon emissions, putting SUVs ahead of heavy industry (including iron, steel, cement and aluminium), aviation and shipping.”

This continued with the IEA outlining how “Global SUV sales set another record in 2021, setting back efforts to reduce emissions.”

Wider impact from the need for more resources

The above refers to tailpipe emissions, the larger nature of SUVs increases the need for extra plastic, rubber and metals which all have carbon and other environmental impacts. This is the case even for electric SUVs.

Tire partials increases pollution, from air to ocean, and SUVs amplifies the affects

SUVs not only increase tailpipe emissions and manufacturing, but the extra weight also makes deadly emissions from tire particulates, road wear and braking worse.

The issue of tire particular matter is widely underestimated but research last year found that tyres produce vastly more particle pollution than exhausts.

These emissions are harmful to humans, wildlife, and the environment. Car tyres were also found to be a major source of ocean microplastics.

ALSO READ: Cars give fantastic mobility, but we need to talk about downsides of mass car ownership and use


  1. Let’s not forget that SUVs (sensu stricto) have a hight bonnet with many having a hard-edge and front-end too so perfectly placed to hit a bike user at the pelvic region causing massive energy transduction into lower abdomen.
    The trajectory of the body hit by a SUV also differs from an impact by a saloon car.

  2. I forgot to add that SUVs are threatening to those of us not inside them and ‘sharing’ the road with their drivers.is not what I wish, despite the Road Safety Authority continuing to proclaim ‘sharing’ in its safety adverts.
    Remember the infamous advert for a model that proclaimed it was for ‘taming the urban jungle’. Quite so!


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