SUVs are everywhere, from front-wheel drive, city-oriented models to heavy-duty off-roaders, to high-performance machines.
One of the most appealing attributes to SUV buyers is the high ride height that these vehicles offer. Whether you’re going off-road or just looking for a more comfortable vehicle to load baby in or out of after a hip replacement, this wide range of vehicles appeals to Australian buyers.
We’ve broken down SUVs from mass-market brands by segment, and listed manufacturers’ claimed ground clearance figures – sourced from manufacturers themselves and/or industry databases.
In the next article, we will look at SUVs from luxury brands.
Sometimes, manufacturers quote running clearance figures, while other times they quote ground clearance figures.
Ground clearance is defined in the Australian Design Regulations as “the minimum distance to the ground from a point on the underside of the vehicle”, excluding parts such as tyres, wheels, brake backplates or mudguards.
Running clearance, on the other hand, is defined as “the distance from the surface on which the unloaded vehicle stands to the lowest point on the vehicle excluding unsprung mass”.
Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two definitions – one that will be more relevant to you if you intend to tackle the trail and not just the Target parking lot. Since running clearance excludes unbranched mass, it does not account for components such as differentials.
A few millimeters may not sound like much, but if you’re on a rocky trail, it can make all the difference.
Unsurprisingly, the rugged Suzuki Jimny – the only pure off-roader in the segment – has the highest ground clearance at 210mm.
Of the crossovers, the CX-3 has the lowest ground clearance figure of 155mm while the Volkswagen T-Cross has the highest at 185mm.
The Jeep Compass Trailhawk stands tall with a ground clearance figure of 225mm, although Peugeot quotes 221mm for 2008 and the Subaru Crosstrek is close behind at 220mm.
The Toyota C-HR, which will be replaced in the first half of 2024, has the lowest ground clearance figure at just 137mm.
The Peugeot 5008 has the highest claimed ground clearance figure in the segment at 236mm, just ahead of the Mahindra XUV700 at 229mm and the Subaru Forester at 220mm.
The MG HS is the lowest at 145mm.
|Model||Driving type||Land clearing|
|BYD Atto 3||FWD||175mm|
|Citroen C5 Aircross||FWD||182mm|
|Cupra Formentor||FWD or AWD||161mm (VZe and VZx), 170mm (V and VZ)|
|Ford Escape||FWD or AWD||178mm (ST-Line), 190-191mm (FWD, Vignale)|
|GWM Haval H6||FWD or AWD||170mm|
|GWM Haval H6 GT||FWD or AWD||165mm|
|Honda CR-V||FWD or AWD||198mm (FWD), 208mm (AWD)|
|Honda ZR-V||FWD or AWD||178mm (VTi X), 186mm (all other variants)|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5||RWD or AWD||160mm|
|Hyundai Tucson||FWD or AWD||181mm|
|Kia Sportage||FWD or AWD||181mm|
|Mazda CX-5||FWD or AWD||200mm (GT SP, Akera), 193mm (all others)|
|Mazda CX-60||AWD||176mm (Evolve), 182mm (GT, Azami)|
|MG HS||FWD or AWD||145mm|
|Mitsubishi Outlander||FWD or AWD||205mm (ES, LS), 210mm (Aspire, Exceed, Exeed Tourer)|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||AWD||199mm (ES), 203mm (others)|
|Nissan X-Trail||FWD or AWD||205mm|
|Renault Koleos||FWD or AWD||210mm|
|Skoda Karoq||FWD or AWD||164mm (140TSI), 172mm (110TSI)|
|SsangYong Korando||FWD or AWD||182mm|
|Tesla Model Y||RWD or AWD||167mm|
|Toyota RAV4||FWD or AWD||190-200mm|
|Volkswagen Tiguan||FWD or AWD||170mm (110TSI), 182mm (132TSI), 147TDI (179mm), 162TSI (185mm)|
The large SUV segment is more diverse than others, with a mix of car-based crossovers and body-on-frame SUVs that are usually based on the ute platform.
While most vehicles on this frame have claimed ground clearance comfortably in excess of 200mm, it’s the unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee trims in Overland and Summit Reserve that can offer the most clearance. With their air suspension in the most serious off-road setting, this variant has a ground clearance of 276mm.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack which is more like a wagon has the lowest figure which is 173mm.
|Model||Driving type||Land clearing|
|Ford Everest||RWD or 4WD||229mm|
|GWM 300 tank||4WD||224mm|
|Hyundai Palisade||FWD or AWD||203mm|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||FWD or AWD||176mm|
|Isuzu MU-X||RWD or 4WD||230mm (LS-M), 235mm (LS-U, LS-T)|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||4WD||214mm (Night Eagle, Limited), 193-276mm (Overland, Summit Reserve 4xe depending on air suspension mode)|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee L||4WD||215mm (Night Eagle, Limited), 194-276mm (Overland, Summit Reserve depending on air suspension mode)|
|Jeep Wrangler||4WD||225mm (Rubicon 2-dr),
232mm (Night Eagle Unlimited), 242mm (Overland Unlimited), 252mm (Rubicon Unlimited)
|Kia EV6||RWD or AWD||160mm|
|Kia Sorento||FWD or AWD||176mm|
|LDV D90||RWD or 4WD||210mm|
|Mazda CX-8||FWD or AWD||200mm (Sport, Touring), 205mm (all others)|
|Mazda CX-9||FWD or AWD||222mm|
|Mazda CX-90||AWD||203mm (Touring), 206mm (GT, Azami)|
|Mitsubishi Pajero Sport||4WD||218mm|
|Nissan Pathfinder||AWD||178mm (Ti), 181mm (Ti-L)|
|Skoda Kodiaq||AWD||192mm (Style, Sportline), 195mm (RS)|
|Toyota Kluger||FWD or AWD||207mm|
|Volkswagen Passat Alltrack||AWD||173mm|
|Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace||FWD or AWD||186mm|
Big Top SUV
The Nissan Patrol has the highest claimed ground clearance in this sub-segment, with a figure of 273mm.