The Middle East is a popular region for SUV sales and buyers can’t seem to get enough of these high-bodied vehicles that combine practicality and performance into an attractive package. In fact, with buyers moving away from traditional hatchbacks, sedans, and wagons, there’s been an influx of SUVs catering to every budget and niche in the market.
Due to the sheer number of options available, however, our aim with this ‘Ultimate SUV Buying Guide’ is to help buyers like you through every step of the way, from scouting your dream car and comparing it to its rivals, to explaining the technical jargon that most would simply overlook when stood across an excited salesman on the showroom floor.
The Research Phase
If you’re in the market for a new SUV, you’re likely to have begun your research using an online platform. This could include browsing manufacturer and dealer websites, video platforms such as YouTube, or a varied mix of social media channels.
On YallaMotor, you are given a holistic approach to every vehicle available across the GCC region. Taking the Ford Expedition as an example, you’re provided with a general overview of the model, accurate prices for each trim level, a list of competitors, insurance estimates, and monthly installment costs as well. But that is not all, because the ability to compare cars is what makes the process easier.
With a simple and straightforward comparison tool, you can scroll through to highlight differences. With information divided into four broad categories (Price, Engine & Power, Measurements, Features) you can compare power figures and dimensions and narrow your selection down to individual features to shortlist your next SUV.
Be it in the research phase or when standing on the showroom floor, you are likely to come across plenty of jargon that could make the process of purchasing an SUV a rather daunting one. Having a better understanding of the terminologies will mean you are in a better position to fully understand your next SUV and its capabilities/limitations.
Cylinders: When talking about engine specifications, there are usually two terms that come into play: Cylinders and Displacement. While the latter is the size of the engine internally, the former refers to the chamber where gasoline is burned and turned into power.
In the case of the Ford Expedition and its 3.5-liter V6 engine, ‘3.5-liter’ refers to the displacement while ‘V6’ is the configuration and number of cylinders. Generally, an engine with more cylinders produces more power, while an engine with fewer cylinders provides better fuel economy.
Horsepower & Torque: Horsepower and Torque are popular terms that many throw around without fully understanding what they mean or how they work. While both terms refer to the power generated by an engine, they aren’t the same and focus on very different aspects of power.
In simple terms, horsepower refers to top speed, while torque focuses on acceleration. A car with high horsepower and low torque would feel sluggish from a stop but will feel stronger as speed builds up. On the other hand, a car with low horsepower and high torque would accelerate strongly from a stop but would lose steam as it hits higher speeds.
Locking Differentials: An important part of every off-road vehicle’s arsenal, locking differentials are the party tricks on SUVs that can make an absolute newbie look like a seasoned off-roader. A standard differential splits power to the driven wheels via the path of least resistance, meaning if one wheel is off the ground, all the vehicle’s power will be directed to that wheel and the vehicle will not budge.
Locking differentials fix that very problem, by splitting the power equally amongst all wheels. By allocating power to the wheels that do have traction, locking differentials allow drivers who possess the right experience and knowledge to get themselves out of a tricky situation off-road without the help of another vehicle.
A center locking differential splits power equally between the front and rear wheels with 50% delivered to the front and 50% to the back. A rear locking differential further splits power equally with 25% to each of the rear wheels. Most SUVs in today’s market come equipped with only a locking center differential while very few dedicated off-roaders come with front and/or rear differentials.
Towing Capacity: Self-explanatory but an important criterion nonetheless, towing capacity refers to the maximum weight a vehicle can pull while towing – this can include a trailer, a boat, or another vehicle. At 3,765kg or 8,300lb, the towing capacity of the Chevrolet Suburban (the Expedition’s biggest rival) is impressive but is no match for the Ford’s 4,218kg or 9,300lb capacity.
As is the case with most other things in the automotive industry, the higher the towing capacity, the greater the convenience. Higher towing capacities provide the convenience to tow multiple speedboats or quad bikes to enjoy the cooler months of the region without worrying about the strain they would cause to the engine or gearbox.
Transmission: This refers to the type of gearbox employed by a vehicle, either automatic or manual. With manufacturers racing to add as many speed transmissions as possible, it is not uncommon to come across vehicles with 7, 8, 9, or 10-speed automatic transmissions. This is essentially carried out to keep engine RPMs as low as possible, and thus improve fuel economy.
If all other parameters remained unchanged, an SUV with more gears would be more fuel efficient than an SUV with lesser gears as the engine would always be under lesser strain.
Turbocharger: In the simplest of terms, a turbocharger is a device that is used to boost the power of an engine. Engines with smaller displacements can match the power figures of larger engines with the help of turbochargers. The all-new Ford Expedition with its turbocharged V6 engine replaces the older naturally-aspirated V8 powerplant while providing more power and efficiency.
Wheelbase: An important factor, especially for those who are purchasing a full-size SUV to transport large families, wheelbase refers to the distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel. The reason why it’s an important figure is because the longer the wheelbase, the greater space for occupants inside the cabin.
The Final Purchase
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, visited showrooms and conducted test drives, it’s time to sign on the dotted line, but a question that’s likely to come up is where’s the best place to purchase an SUV? If money isn’t too big of a concern, you can always walk into your nearest new car dealership and drive out a brand-new vehicle with the promise of trouble-free motoring, a great warranty, and possibly a service contract too.
For those looking for a great deal, however, most new car dealerships also have a certified pre-owned section with plenty of cars on offer. Vehicles sold by the certified used car program are thoroughly inspected, contain a full-service history from the dealer, and are usually significantly cheaper since the previous owner has taken the initial depreciation hit.
Whichever option you opt for, we wish you all the very best in the search and purchase of your next SUV.
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