Midsize SUV vs. Standard SUV

Midsize SUV vs. Standard SUV

If you’re in the market to rent an SUV for your next trip or buy one for your personal use, you may be asked if you’re interested in a midsize SUV or a standard SUV. Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are one of the most popular types of vehicle on the road today, but without a little clarification, it may be hard to distinguish one type from the other.

Every SUV is designed to capture the best elements of what you love about a car and what you love about a truck.Two types of vehicles in the Sports Utility Vehicle class are the midsize SUV and the standard SUV, and it’s important to be able to distinguish them from each other when you’re shopping around in the SUV vehicle class so that you get one that meets your specific needs and budget.

What makes an SUV a midsize SUV? What makes one a standard SUV? How can you tell the difference? By knowing the difference between a midsize SUV and a standard SUV, you’ll be able to choose wisely the one that suits your needs with confidence. 

Midsize SUV

A midsize SUV is a bit smaller than a full-size SUV or a standard SUV, but it is larger than a compact SUV. It’s essentially the Goldilocks of SUVs. It’s not too small. It’s not too big. For many drivers, it’s just right. 

Midsize SUVs are sometimes referred to as intermediate SUVs or crossover SUVs. Their size is not the only contributing factor in their popularity. SUVs in general and pickup trucks made up 70% of the auto industry’s sales market in 2019. 

The midsize SUVs bring to the table a lot of the lower cost features than a standard SUV, like better gas mileage, while still providing the versatility of an SUV which makes it a better choice over a car. When you’re renting a vehicle, you’ll also find that the rates for a car may be cheaper, the rates for a midsize SUV are more comparable to a car. For many, the price difference is worth it for the cargo and cabin space.  

Another advantage that makes the midsize SUV a fan favorite is its drivability. Its sweet spot size gives it a better vantage point and sit the driver up higher for better visibility over the car option. Because midsize SUVs sit lower to the ground than standard SUVs, they provide more stability as well, so it is a more popular choice for younger, more inexperienced drivers because they’re easier to manage.

One of the reasons SUVs are popular is that their larger size means that drivers and passengers are safer from injury than in a car, and that’s led to an increase in the popularity of the midsize SUV. But, how does the midsize SUV stack up against the standard SUV?

Standard SUV

A standard SUV is a bigger sports utility vehicle than the midsize SUV and most others in the SUV class. Sometimes the word “standard” in other classes refers to the transmission, but in the case of the SUV, it typically only refers to the size of the vehicle in relation to other SUVs.

The word standard means that something is accepted as normal or average, and that definitely rings true for the standard SUV. These unibody creations are built on a chassis that you might also use on a truck body. Ther design gives them the ability to have the height, ground clearance, and usually the towing capacity of a truck, but it also gives them the enclosure and cargo capacity feel of a car. 

For drivers with a diverse lifestyle and set of interests, these vehicles fit the bill to perform all of their daily tasks from gathering groceries to hauling outdoor equipment to carving out a path for a camping trip on the weekend. 

These powerful vehicles can go off-road or haul a boat, but they come with a higher seating capacity to comfortably seat about 5 to 7 adults with room for cargo. They check a lot of boxes for drivers, including safety, and that’s why they are one of the most popular vehicle classes on the road today. 

With a standard SUV’s size though comes a greater sense of responsibility. Like a truck, they can be a lot for a driver to handle and maneuver, especially in tight spaces. For driving in urban areas where the streets and parking can become more narrow, a standard SUV can make driving and parking a little scary for an inexperienced driver.

Along with this concern for handling the size of the vehicle comes the operating costs of the standard SUV. The low gas mileage and larger fuel tank of the standard SUV can hurt when you’re filling up at the pump more frequently, but this isn’t enough to deter fans of the SUV.

Factors To Consider Before Choosing

When you’re trying to decide between a midsize SUV and a standard SUV, the distinguishing factors between the two can help you choose. Whether you’re buying or renting a vehicle, you need to choose the vehicle that suits your needs and your budget. Here are some factors to consider to help you decide. 


Size can mean the difference in space within the cabin area or more cargo room, but it can also affect the comfort level of the driver. Midsize SUVs may feel more familiar to drivers that are used to cars.

The larger size of the standard SUV does make them better equipped to handle more towing and rougher terrains, so how you intend to use the vehicle most is something to keep in mind when shopping around between these two vehicle types.


Size can impact a driver’s ability to manage the vehicle or the drivability of the vehicle. If a driver is unfamiliar with driving larger vehicles, a standard sized SUV can be intimidating and even dangerous. 

Either choice puts the driver up higher and increases visibility and safety, but it’s important for the driver to be honest with themselves on what they feel comfortable handling on the road. 


Smaller size can impact cost as well.. A midsize SUV is less expensive than a standard SUV. That holds true whether you’re renting the vehicle or buying it. Cost may not be the only factor for some drivers, but the vehicle cost doesn’t stop at the point of sale. 

The midsize SUV is smaller and more fuel-efficient, so drivers may experience less cost to operate the vehicle after they purchase their midsize SUV. 

For certain situations and lifestyles, the standard SUV is just the best option to choose despite the cost.


When you’re in the market for an SUV, whether you’re renting or buying, it’s important that you understand the differences between midsize SUVs and standard SUVs. Informed decisions help you to feel more confident that you’ve made a decision that’s right based on your needs. 

When it comes to midsize and standard SUVs, it can be easy to think that the differences lie only with their sizes, but safety, drivability, and cost all play a part in what distinguishes these two types of vehicles within their shared class. 

S.U.V. vs. Sedan, and Detroit vs. the World, in a Fight for the Future (Published 2019) | nytimes.com
Vehicle size and weight | iihs.org
Differential Risk of Injury to Child Occupants by SUV Size | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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