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VW Pivoting To SUVs: There Is No Way This Decision Could Come Back To Haunt Us

GIF: Jason Torchinsky / Jalopnik

Volkswagen would like you to know it is confident. Confident in its new and growing lineup of crossovers and SUVs. So confident, it just did a random confident survey to double-check that yep, the people who bought SUVs like SUVs and would likely buy another.

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Totally nothing to worry about.

A survey of 1,000 SUV owners in the U.S., which Volkswagen claims made up exactly half men and half women, claim they own an SUV and would buy another. If this sounds extremely obvious to you, it’s because you’ve either been reading Jalopnik since its inception, or have just driven on America’s roads even a single time in that 15-year span and realized SUVs are kind of hot right now.

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So then why did Volkswagen do this survey? Was it just a subtle “fuck off” to enthusiasts who complain there aren’t enough fun options to buy? Well, probably, but it also found out some other interesting facts about SUV owners along the way.

The survey showed 96 percent of the group saw SUVs as the best vehicles for the money, and 90 percent of parents and 87 percent overall didn’t see themselves owning anything else in the near future.

But it’s also interesting to see that 94 percent of the group feel more confident behind the wheel of an SUV on the road, and 68 percent of the group ranked safety and comfort as the top two priorities when picking a vehicle—broken down, men where more concerned with comfort, especially seating, where women were more concerned with safety.

Gen Z and Millennial drivers also tended to rank safety as the top priority, whereas BOOMERS aged 55 years-old and up just wanted comfortable seats.

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The most interesting takeaway for me, a nerd with no life, was that third-row seating is a hot commodity among both 35-54 year-olds and, somewhat surprisingly, among 18-34 year-old owners.

But again, most of this tracks with what you could probably guess and with what Volkswagen has probably known all along. SUVs provide more space for more people, seem safer from the inside, and are usually equipped to be a little more versatile, so there is plenty of bang for the buck.

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(This is the part where I say SUVs actually aren’t much safer outside of head-on collisions and are more prone to rolling over. They also make it much more likely the people in the smaller car involved in the collision will die, and they’re pretty much game-over for pedestrians who get caught in the path of one. But if you’re only looking out for number-one, I guess it makes sense.)

Volkswagen was just double-checking, though, because it’s about to launch an onslaught of electric vehicles, and it probably wants to know what to do first. Don’t be surprised if we’re bringing up this survey again when we’re all wondering where the hell the new microbus is in a couple of years.

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I also wouldn’t be surprised that, in another 10 years, this survey doesn’t mean all too much, since you could’ve polled parents about their minivan a couple of decades ago and they probably would have answered in much the same way. Who’s driving minivans now?

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DISCUSSION

Before everyone starts saying that a similar size wagon or hatch has the same space, what you are missing is the vertical space.

Not just a higher greenhouse, but overall height that is easier for entry & exit. Many non-SUV people assume the height is so they see above other cars, but that’s not the main reason people want the height. It’s simply easier to get in and out of.

Seems like a small thing, but trust me, a daily driver, getting into and out of a vehicle in a tight space several times a day is noticeably easier in an SUV than a low slung sedan or coupe, especially when you are older or have leg or back pain. Factor in a family, small kids, car seats, groceries, etc. and it is even more convenient.

Yes the wagon will handle better, but how often is that a major selling point for people who drive on pothole streets to work everyday?  Yes they get better mileage, but not by a lot. Usually crossovers are withing 7% - 15% of their sedan counterparts on mpg, not enough to get people to stop buying them.

Considering most driving enthusiast are younger and don’t usually buy new cars, this trend is only going to continue. The future of cars are electric crossovers, whether we like it or now.