SUV vs hatchback

Unsure whether your family would be better off with an SUV or a regular hatchback? Let us guide you through some of the differences

Matt Rigby
Sep 28, 2021

Drivers are increasingly turning to SUVs for their next car, and the popularity of this type of car means that vehicle manufacturers are creating SUVs to suit almost every lifestyle and budget. From sporty SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan R and large, luxurious family-friendly models like the Land Rover Discovery right the way down to entry-level bargains such as the Dacia Duster, there’s an SUV out there for almost every motorist.

Hatchbacks, on the other hand, have been the mainstay car for family motoring for decades. As a result these are also available in many different flavours: as small, fuel-efficient models for those on a budget, larger family-friendly models or high-performance hot hatches. That means there's also plenty of choice for those after a hatchback.

If you’re considering switching from a hatchback to an SUV, then one thing you will need to consider is the extra cost. Partly because of the fashionable nature of SUVs, they are often sold at a premium compared with less glamorous hatchbacks.

As a result, you may well need to look at a smaller SUV to compare with a hatchback. For example, the smallest Seat SUV - the Arona - will cost you roughly the same on the used market as an equivalent Seat Leon family-sized hatchback, which is an altogether larger, more spacious car.

SUVs also tend to be a little more heavy on fuel than an equivalent size hatchback, as they weigh more and tend to be less aerodynamically efficient - which results in more wind resistance. Hatchbacks, due to their lower centre of gravity, tend to be more agile and fun to drive on a twisty road, too.

But the fact that SUVs ride higher does have its advantages. You get better forward visibility, they can be easier to get in and out of for some people - especially the rear seats - and the higher driving position can give you a great feeling of security as a driver.

Read on for more details on hatchback and SUV body styles.

What is an SUV?

Broadly speaking, 'SUV' refers to any car with a tall, chunky body and high ride height. This name is used to describe everything from jacked-up small hatchbacks based on city cars to large-seven seat family vehicles.

Most SUVs were originally four-wheel drive, and have been referred to as SUVs, 4x4s and off-roaders. However, in recent years two-wheel-drive SUVs have become increasingly popular. This is because these two-wheel-drive models are lighter and use less fuel, while still offering the high seating position and chunky looks of a ‘proper’ 4x4.

Pros and cons of an SUV

High SUV driving position offers good forward visibility and a feeling of security
Wide choice of SUVs from compact models to supersized seven-seat versions
Many SUVs offer four-wheel drive and some amount of off-road ability
Despite high cash prices, strong used values mean low PCP finance monthly payments

SUVs can use more fuel than hatchbacks, especially if fitted with four-wheel-drive
Taller, heavier body can make SUVs feel ungainly on twisty roads compared with hatchbacks
Popularity of SUV format means these are typically more expensive than equivalent hatchbacks
Higher floor than in a hatchback, so getting in and out could be a challenge for some

What is a hatchback?

Mercedes A-Class front three quarters view

Hatchbacks are a very broad format of car ranging from small, budget city cars all the way to high-performance hot hatches. They’re also quite difficult to define. Technically speaking, the term hatchback refers to the boot lid of any car where the rear windscreen lifts up as part of the mechanism.

However, it has come to be the generic term for small and medium-sized family cars. What this means is that, while something like a Skoda Karoq has a hatchback boot opening, it would be described as an SUV (or possibly a crossover) rather than as a hatchback, due to its boxy shape and high driving position - something which defines SUVs.

Hatchbacks are some of the biggest-selling cars on the road, with popular models including the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Corsa.

Pros and cons of a hatchback

Hatchbacks are generally small and light, making them one of the most fuel-efficient car types
The compact dimensions of most hatchbacks make them easier to park than many other types of car
A low centre of gravity and light weight means hatchbacks tend to be agile and fun to drive

Large SUVs can tower over you in some hatchbacks - especially city cars such as the Skoda Citigo
Most hatchbacks - with a few notable exceptions - don’t have an especially upmarket image
Other body styles such as estates, large SUVs and people carriers offer greater interior space

SUVs and hatchbacks for £150 per month

Vauxhall Astra front

Vauxhall Astra

Used deals from £7,500
Monthly finance from £0*

Dacia Sandero

Used deals from £7,295
Monthly finance from £0*

Dacia Duster

Used deals from £8,799
Monthly finance from £0*

SUVs and hatchbacks for £200 per month

Volkswagen Golf

Used deals from £9,821
Monthly finance from £0*

Ford Focus

Used deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £0*

Fiat 500X

Used deals from £7,650
Monthly finance from £0*

SUVs and hatchbacks for £250 per month

Audi A3

Used deals from £13,691
Monthly finance from £0*

Volkswagen Tiguan

Used deals from £13,295
Monthly finance from £0*

Ford Kuga

Used deals from £9,995
Monthly finance from £0*

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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