A sport utility vehicle (SUV, sometimes called a sports utility wagon) is a vehicle similar to a station wagon or estate car that is usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on-road or off-road ability. Some SUVs include the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or large sedan.
There are a number of definitions for an SUV. Most government regulations simply have categories for “off-highway vehicles,” which in turn are lumped in with pickup trucks and minivans as light trucks.” The auto industry has not settled on one definition.
Nevertheless, four-wheel-drive SUVs are considered light trucks in North America (and two-wheel-drive SUVs up to the 2011 model year) where they were regulated less strictly than passenger cars under two laws in the United States, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for fuel economy, and the Clean Air Act for emissions. Starting in 2004, theUnited States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to hold sport utility vehicles to the same tailpipe emissions standards as cars.
Many people question “how can an SUV be called a truck?” Although the original definition of the “light truck” classification included pickups and delivery vans, usually SUVs andminivans are included in this category because these vehicles are designed to “permit greater cargo-carying capacity than passenger carrying volume. Manufacturing, emissions, and safety regulations in the U.S. classify “an SUV is a truck”; however, for local licensing and traffic enforcement, “an SUV may be a truck or a car” because the classification of these vehicles varies from state to state. For industry production statistics, SUVs are counted in the light truck product segment