We all know that parking an SUV can be a pain with the number of compact spaces popping up everywhere from school parking lots to high rise parking structures. For some, it's the sole reason to avoid buying an SUV even though the additional passenger and cargo space is a plus. If you've been thinking about switching from a car to an SUV, but are afraid the limited parking opportunities will try your limited patience, here's what you need to know:
First, a vehicles ability to maneuver easily in and out of tight parking spaces (as well as make U-turns) is determined by its turning radius. The turning radius of a vehicle is the smallest possible U-turn the vehicle is capable of making. The smaller, the easier it is to squeeze in and out of tight places.
Most people assume that a vehicle's turning radius is directly correlated to the car's length and width. Those dimensions are only a small part. Other factors, like the type of steering system, also play a part.
If you're interested in which SUV models offer the tightest turning radius, here's a list of popular models and where they fit in. After comparing several models, we found the best SUV to be the 2008 Isuzu Ascender. With a turning radius of only 36.4 feet, it's incredibly easy to park considering it's a midsize SUV. By comparison, several compact models actually have higher turning radiuses. The Chevrolet Equinox has a turning radius of 42 feet, the BMW X3 turns at 38.4 feet, and the Mitsubishi Outlander at 37.5. The Saturn Vue has a turning radius of 39.4 feet and the Suzuki XL-7 turns at 38.9 feet.
In addition, the Isuzu Ascender has other features that make parking a breeze. The most important, is that the vehicle's full-sized spare tire is not mounted to the rear tailgate, allowing for better visibility through the rear window (essential when backing out of a parking space). Motor Point warns SUV owners about the safety hazards of tailgate-mounted spares. According to an online article, Motor Point states, "A very important warning for buyers of [SUVs] is the danger of having the spare tire mounted on the tailgate. This has no upside and is a definite negative. First, it reduces badly needed rear visibility. Secondly, it makes opening the tailgate extremely difficult to open and close when on an incline. In addition, if the vehicle has a tailgate window that opens to enable you to place items inside, the rear spare gets in the way, making it very difficult to use without getting your outfits dirty. Finally, it makes rear end collision repairs much more expensive. All of our best choices managed to engine engineer a place for the spare tire to reside either inside the car or under it clearly indicating better thinking and engineering."
In short, don't assume that parking an SUV will be a hassle and certainly don't avoid purchasing an SUV for this reason. Do your homework. Find out the turning radius of your favorite model and pay close attention to visibility when you're test drivingtest-driving it. Don't be afraid to ask the salesman if you can try parking it while you're out on your test drive. Despite an increasingly compact world, the SUV can be your friend, so choose your friends wisely.