Intermediate SUV vs Standard SUV

Intermediate SUV vs Standard SUV

Whether you’re shopping for a new SUV or renting a car for your next trip, you may find yourself wondering what’s the difference between an intermediate SUV and a standard SUV. As a refresher, an SUV is a sport utility vehicle, and that’s also why we call it an SUV. 

The sport utility vehicle is designed to combine the elements of a car and a truck. This class of vehicles is separated into standard and intermediate, and while they may share the same class, they are certainly different from each other as well. 

So, what sets them apart from each other? How do you choose the one that’s right for your situation? Learning what makes them different will help you make an informed decision on your next rental or purchase.

Intermediate SUVs

An intermediate SUV is a slightly smaller SUV in comparison to full-size or standard SUVs. You may have also heard them referred to as midsize SUVs or crossover SUVs. 

Their smaller stature is not the only distinguishing feature of an intermediate SUV. Intermediate SUVs are also more cost-efficient for car buyers, and they can be cheaper to rent as well. They are the most popular vehicle type on the market in the United States.

Many fans of the SUV also prefer the intermediate SUV because it offers better drivability, and they are easier to handle than their larger counterparts, the standard. Thankfully, most manufacturers understand that drivers and passengers may prefer the smaller size of an intermediate without sacrificing the interior room of a standard SUV. 

Additionally, according to Car and Driver, the intermediate SUV is far more fuel-efficient than the standard SUV. As most drivers know, fuel efficiency can make or break your wallet at the pump. 

Intermediate SUVs get better gas mileage because while they’re bigger than a car, their larger size is well-proportioned well, which gives them an advantage over heavier SUVs. The intermediate SUV is a popular choice for families because its larger interior is more comfortable than a car, and it’s also ready to go off-road if fun and adventure calls.

Standard SUVs

A standard SUV is a larger sport utility vehicle than other SUVs like the intermediate. You might hear other cars in the automotive industry referred to as standard, but they usually refer to the transmission in those instances. 

In an SUV, the description of “standard” generally refers to the size of the SUV. The standard SUV is larger than the intermediate or compact versions. These full-size models are more powerful, like a truck, and they are usually more equipped to handle a wider variety of terrains and road conditions as well. 

Their power means that they have a towing capacity to pull other cars, boats, or trailers. This is ideal for people who enjoy traveling, going off-road, or towing their equipment. 

In addition to being powerful, their size also means that they typically have more seating capacity than the smaller SUVs. They can seat more passengers and have more cargo space for transporting luggage and equipment.

The standard SUV is also a reminder that with great power comes great responsibility. It is important to remember that, while the standard SUV is safer in collisions and crashes, it can also be dangerous in a rollover situation, so be sure you’re prepared and cautious when driving a standard SUV. This is something for the novice driver to be aware of when choosing an SUV.

Which One Is Right for You?

The intermediate SUV and the standard SUV each have their distinguishing size and features. Because they are so different, and each has its own capabilities, it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other. However, you can choose the best one that’s right for you and your needs. 

When you’re trying to choose the right SUV type for yourself to buy or rent, here are some key features for you to consider.


The intermediate SUV has more drivability than the standard SUV. Its smaller size makes it easier to handle, and it is essential to a stable and safe ride. The intermediate SUV is a vehicle that just about any driver can manage while still providing the speed and durability you’d expect from a sport utility vehicle.

Because of their size, a standard SUV is not for every driver as they can be bulky and more difficult to handle and manage. If you know from experience that you can handle a truck, then you shouldn’t let the weight and bulkiness of the standard SUV intimidate you. It may not have the drivability of the intermediate SUV, but it will do well in multiple scenarios.


Size is their most obvious difference, but is it a factor in your decision? Standard SUVs are full-sized, and the intermediate SUV is smaller. This affects other aspects of the vehicles as well. For instance, the larger the SUV, the more room for passengers and cargo it will most likely have in comparison.

The size also impacts the power the SUV has when stacked against another SUV. More power allows the SUV to tow more, handle inclines more effectively, and come up to speed more quickly. 

The size can influence the gas mileage because of the power to weight ratio. A smaller SUV has a more proportionate weight distribution, so it tends to be more fuel-efficient. 

You’ll need to consider your needs for capacity, power, and fuel efficiency when deciding on the right size SUV for you. 


An intermediate SUV is typically less expensive than a standard SUV. This is true for renting or buying a vehicle. If the total cost isn’t your focus, you may want to consider other costs associated with the vehicle. 

As the smaller and more fuel-efficient option, the intermediate could save you money in the long run because you’ll spend less at the pump to fuel up. 

While cost is a factor, if the vehicle can’t meet your other needs, is it worth the money you save? Sometimes the standard SUV is more equipped to handle your larger crowd, more extensive cargo needs, or hauling requirements. 


Choosing the right type of SUV for your next trip or purchase can be a challenge, but understanding the differences between an intermediate SUV and a standard SUV can make the decision easier. 

Remember to consider the drivability of each. Be honest with yourself about the experience level of the primary driver. If the driver will not be fully equipped to handle the larger standard SUV, it’s essential to use the intermediate SUV.

Also, consider the amount of space you need for passengers and cargo when choosing the right SUV type for you. 

Lastly, remember that the intermediate SUV may be more cost-effective on gas mileage, so it’s essential to look at that in comparison to your power needs for towing or going off-road. 

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