Buying a car is a serious investment, and the first thing you should ask yourself is: “What do I want to do with this car?”
The answer to this will help guide your decision.
Do you need a vehicle that has low running costs? Or are you interested in a car with more space to haul cargo?
So, is it better to buy a hatchback or an SUV?
While both offer distinct advantages, hatchbacks and SUVs (sports utility vehicles) differ significantly in terms of affordability, styling, design, driving experience and storage space.
The hatchback vs SUV debate ultimately comes down to which option best suits your needs.
In this post, we will unpack the hatchback versus SUV debate, so that when it’s time for you to make your next purchase, you’ll know which vehicle type best suits your needs, style and personality – and budget.
First, let’s unpack what hatchbacks are, and what SUVs are.
What Is A Hatchback?
The hallmark feature of a hatchback is its roof-hinged tailgate that flips up and also counts as a door, whether the vehicle is a three-door or five-door version.
Unlike a sedan, the passenger space and boot compartment are not separate.
Hatchbacks also feature fold-down rear seats, allowing the cabin space to be reconfigured to increase the loading area.
Hatchbacks are popular in Europe and Asia but have been gaining traction in North America.
The Honda Civic, Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai and Volkswagen Golf are popular models, especially with young people and families, because these hatchbacks are easier to use in congested city traffic and have better fuel economy.
What Is An SUV?
SUV is short for ‘sports utility vehicle’, characterized by rugged styling inspired by traditional off-roaders and 4x4s.
SUVs have a higher ground clearance than hatchbacks, allowing them to navigate rough terrain without scraping the underside.
This makes them ideal for off-road activities such as camping or driving to your next hike.
SUVs typically have four-wheel drive with a range of size options to cater to demand: small SUVs, compact SUVs, larger SUVs, and even 7-seater SUVs.
Some even have third-row seating, which makes them an attractive option for larger families or groups of friends heading off on their next adventure.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, and Chevrolet Traverse are some examples of SUVs.
Advantages Of Hatchbacks
When buying new, hatchbacks are typically cheaper than SUVs, and sometimes even have better resale value.
They typically have smaller engines, are lighter than SUVs, and generally have better fuel economy than an SUV with less environmental impact.
In addition to price and fuel use, you should consider how much your car will cost to maintain.
Otherwise, what seemed like a bargain at the time could end up being a financial burden for you.
A hatchback offers competitive maintenance costs, and it has smaller tires than an SUV, for example, which means generally cheaper replacement costs.
Purchasing a popular hatchback model means parts will also be readily available, bringing down regular maintenance fees.
Covering hatchbacks is mostly cheaper because parts are generally inexpensive to replace.
This means lower insurance premiums.
Parking or finding a parking spot with a hatchback is much easier compared to an SUV.
That’s because these vehicles are generally smaller than the bulky SUVs on the market today.
Cool and tech-enabled
Hatchbacks are seriously cool, sporty, and fun to drive.
With the latest models featuring Bluetooth connectivity and onboard interactivity, hatches have enormous appeal.
Advantages Of An SUV
A better view of the road
An SUV stands taller than most vehicles, so the driver sits higher and enjoys better road visibility.
The height of this four-wheel drive vehicle allows it to drive smoothly over rough roads and terrain, making it ideal for people living out of town or who enjoy off-roading and testing out their four-wheel drive on the weekend.
They’re also great in inclement weather, thanks to their high ground clearance and off-road capability.
Because of its size, the interior of an SUV is significantly more spacious than that of a hatchback.
It can take more passengers than a hatchback, as its higher roofline creates more headroom and legroom.
Thanks to their height above the ground, SUVs are great when you need to carry bigger items, such as golf clubs or camping gear.
Moreover, you can securely attach a luggage rack on the vehicle’s roof or mount your bikes on the hatch door without drawing attention.
This makes sports utility vehicles more practical than hatchbacks.
The size of SUVs makes them one of the safest car types on the road.
Being larger and heavier vehicles, SUVs can withstand the force of impact in a collision more effectively than smaller hatchbacks.
This significantly reduces the risk of injury for occupants.
Advancements in technology mean SUVs are also helpful in preventing crashes.
Driver assistance systems, such as parking sensors and blind spot assist, can alert the driver of hazards and help minimize risk.
The biggest problem with small cars is that they are small.
That’s great if you aren’t regularly hauling cargo, transporting many passengers, or taking frequent trips.
However, using a small car isn’t the best idea if you are constantly driving with a full load.
Hatchbacks are not designed for large families or families that travel often.
Packing in all of your luggage will be a mission.
Besides, the drive will be less comfortable.
Then there’s the visibility aspect. Hatchbacks sit lower than SUVs.
This means that when sitting in traffic, you’re literally sitting ‘in traffic.’
You can’t see around or over the lines of cars blocking your way.
A hatchback cannot offer the elevated driving position and broader view of the road that an SUV provides.
The trunk of a hatchback is mainly glass.
So, if you park on the street and inadvertently leave valuables in your car, you might want to consider something that offers a bit more security.
Yes, most modern hatchbacks have cargo covers to keep predatory eyes out, but all it takes is one whack, and all is gone.
While there are some so-called ‘hot hatches’ with loads of power, most don’t pack a punch.
While this is great for fuel usage, it’s not ideal when you really need to get going.
The towing capacity of a hatchback is also limited.
Price and maintenance of an SUV
SUVs are expensive, and price ranges might be out of your league if you have a limited budget.
Plus, SUV parts and accessories are pricey, meaning SUV maintenance costs will be higher because of their larger tires and expensive replacement parts.
Considering their size and weight, SUVs are fitted with larger, more powerful engines, meaning they require more fuel to move.
In the current economic climate and if you are on a tight budget, then an SUV will prove uneconomical as this usually means fewer miles per gallon.
Compact SUVs offer smaller engines and less weight to drive around, which can decrease the amount you spend on fuel each week.
Road handling and parking
SUVs’ higher center of gravity can mean less control when driving at higher speeds compared to a traditional hatchback.
Because of their large turning circles, SUVs can be difficult to park.
Because SUVs have bigger engines, theyburn more fuel.
This higher fuel consumption has resulted in SUVs being referred to as “gas guzzlers.”
This is because SUVs spew more CO2 emissions and, thus, have more of a negative impact on the environment.
Are Hatchbacks Or SUVs The Better Choice?
There is no right or wrong regarding these two types of cars. The right choice for you is the car that best fits your needs.
If you plan on driving in city streets, a hatchback would probably suit you the best, whereas outdoor enthusiasts will get a lot of use out of full-sized and compact SUVs.
It is up to you to decide which of these vehicles you should buy to meet your driving demands.
FAQs on Hatchbacks and SUVs
Are all vehicles with ‘hatchback boots’ hatchback cars?
No. While confusing, different features separate hatchbacks from other types of vehicles.
While SUVs, crossovers, and station wagons all feature a ‘hatchback’ lid, they are not hatchbacks.
When people talk about hatchback cars, they are not just referring to the trunk but also the vehicle’s size, shape, and performance.
On the other hand, SUVs are bigger, cost more to maintain, and are differently designed and configured.
Are there different types of hatchbacks?
Hatchbacks are classified by the number of their doors, either three or five doors.
Three-door hatchbacks have two front doors on each side and a third at the rear of the vehicle.
One can access the back seats by folding the front seats forward.
A five-door hatchback is slightly larger than its three-door equivalent with two doors on each side and a hatchback at the back.
The two extra doors make it easier to access the rear seats.
Hatchbacks are an excellent family car option.
What is a hot hatch’?
The term ‘hot hatch’ was coined in the UK and refers to high-performance versions of its more popular production hatchback counterparts.
And while they may look similar to the base model, these pocket rockets pack substantial power to render a more enhanced driving experience.
Hot hatch examples include the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, and, of course, the car that blazed the trail, the iconic VW Golf GTI.
Why are hatchbacks popular?
These cars come in a wide range of choices.
You can find hatchbacks in a range of shapes, styles, and specificities, with most major car manufacturers having a model to choose from.
Hatchbacks are one of the most fuel-efficient car types in the US market.
Because of their low center of gravity, hatchbacks are also easy to drive, particularly for new drivers.
This makes them ideal for navigating busy city roads and tight parking spaces.
Are SUVs gaining traction on US roads?
SUVs are becoming increasingly popular on American roads.
After registering strong numbers in the new-car market, they are now gaining traction in the pre-owned car market.
This may be due to the wide range of SUV models on offer.
With compact SUVs and full-size options available, small and large families can quickly settle on the right-sized vehicle that meets their needs.
Moreover, SUVs sit high off the ground, allowing for easier access, whereas Hatchbacks are lower and may be more difficult to enter or exit.
This may not be an issue for younger people, but having the extra height is a big plus for older passengers.
Hatchback or SUV – Which Is Better?
When you start exploring your options, you will notice that many SUVs are spin-offs from popular hatchbacks.
The VW Tiguan, for example, is the SUV derivative of the Volkswagen Golf and is on course to become even more popular than the legendary German hatchback.
Hatchbacks and SUVs have different features that appeal to the different needs and preferences of customers.
Some drivers prefer the fuel efficiency and stout structure of a hatchback while others may go for more space and the better ground clearance of sport utility vehicles.
Ultimately, your choice will come down to your unique needs and preferences.
We hope this guide has helped to narrow down your choices and identify the best vehicle for you.