Ease of Interior Access Serves as a Major Advantage for SUVs
As many motorists grow older, the ease at which they can enter and exit an SUV or crossover is influencing their purchasing decisions
Many automotive sleuths have tried to determine the reason why SUVs and crossovers have grown so popular in the past few years. Explanations offered range anywhere between a desire for more cargo space to consumers choosing a vehicle that makes them feel safer.
However, one explanation that may have been overlooked seems to be a major reason for the rise of SUVs and crossovers. Simply put, these vehicles are easier to climb in and out of.
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A new report from The Detroit Free Press elaborates on this trend. According to automotive design experts, drivers and passengers prefer a vehicle they can slide in and out of, rather than one they have to lower themselves into.
“Front-seat access is the No. 1 factor in comfort and safe driving,” said Sherry Kolodziejczak, national coordinator for driving safety at the AARP. “The small SUVs tend to have wider door openings and lower sills to step over. Step-in height is really, really important.”
SUVs are configured so that your hip is placed only slightly higher when you stand outside the vehicle compared to when you sit in it. Designers place the ideal seat height somewhere between 21 and 27 inches above the ground. Such a seating position is roughly the same as getting in and out of an office chair.
This aspect of SUVs and crossovers is especially appealing for older drivers. As more of the population enters their 50s and 60s, a vehicle that will let them enter and exit comfortably will likely be a priority.
It’s not just older drivers who appreciate easier access points. Drivers recovering from injuries and those with larger frames also benefit from this seating configuration.
So why haven’t automakers been highlighting this aspect of their best-selling models? To put it simply, those automakers want their vehicles to project a youthful, energetic feel, and discussing how easy it is to enter and exit a vehicle doesn’t quite match that message.
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Even though automakers aren’t highlighting this benefit, customers are certainly taking notice of it. SUV sales are on the rise, with passenger car sales falling behind. Many automakers have even gone as far as eliminating their passenger car lineups in favor of more utility vehicles.
As SUVs and crossovers catch up to sedans and coupes in terms of fuel economy, passenger cars are presenting fewer advantages over their larger utility-based counterparts. Meanwhile, with a more advantageous ride height and a more comfortable seating position, SUVs and crossovers continue to offer benefits that smaller sedans simply can’t match.
News Source: The Detroit Free Press
Zachary Berry currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, he enjoys traveling from place to place, as he was born in Oklahoma City and has also lived in Albuquerque and Orlando (such is the life of a military brat). Zachary graduated from Ohio University with a major in Strategic Communication, which is fancy talk for advertising and public relations. Beginning his career at The News Wheel as a lowly intern, he was able to climb his way to the top, eventually claiming his place within the last cubicle on the left. Other jobs that Zachary has held include driving around a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, Zachary enjoys watching and critiquing movies and television. See more articles by Zachary.