When browsing through the internet to find the perfect car for your next purchase, you might have come across the terms SUV and compact SUV. Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between a full-size SUV and a compact SUV? If you have, this article will clear all your confusion.

The term SUV stands for sport utility vehicle. SUVs are fun vehicles made for both adventurous off-road activities and smooth cruising on the road. 

Let’s take a look at what makes a compact SUV different from a full-size SUV.

Full-size SUV vs Compact SUV: Size

compact SUV vs full size SUV

Tata Safari 7 or 6 seater SUV (top) and Tata Harrier 5-seater Compact SUV (bottom)

Full-size SUVs are larger when compared to compact SUVs. This makes full-size SUVs harder to handle during city rides. Compact SUVs provide the experience of driving an SUV but it doesn’t feel like a massive vehicle. Compact SUVs are perfected for city rides and heavy traffic on the roads.

A full-size SUV normally comes in 7 seater layouts. Toyota Fortuner, Tata Safari, Ford Endeavor, Mahindra XUV700 are common examples of full-size SUVs. Whereas, compact SUVs are generally 5 seaters. Common examples of compact SUVs are Hyundai Creta, Tata Harrier, MG hector, etc.

Full-size SUV vs Compact SUV: Drivetrain

Full-size SUVs get an option of different driving modes like 4×4, FWD, or RWD for better off-road performance. Most of the compact SUVs are Front-wheel drive while some automakers provide the option of an all-wheel-drive setup.

Full-size SUV vs Compact SUV: Fuel efficiency

Fuel efficiency is an important factor while selecting a car. The larger body, heavy materials, and Powerful engines make the full-size SUVs weak when it comes to mileage. On the other hand compact SUVs with their smaller size and less powerful engines provide the users with better fuel efficiency. 

Ground clearance and ride height

The ground clearance of a full-size SUV is higher than a compact SUV.  The increased ground clearance allows full-size SUVs to conquer all kinds of terrains. this also means that Full-size SUVs have a higher ride height. 

Handling and driving experience

Compact SUVs provide better handling for city rides. They are better at the corners because of their lower center of gravity.

Full-size SUVs are taller, longer, and wider when compared to compact SUVs. This makes it difficult for the giants to pass through crowded streets or congested traffic. Full-size SUVs rule the highways. The stiffer steering helps with the stability at increased speed and the higher seating position provides a better view of the road.


Both categories have their pros and cons. Full-size SUVs are powerful and agile but add to air pollution and are an expensive investment. However compact SUVs are just vehicles that try to replicate the SUV experience. 

If you have enough money and want to have some real on-road and offroad fun with your vehicle go for a full-size SUV. If you want to save some money and still get an SUV experience then a compact SUV is the better choice.

Also, read:

Mahindra XUV700 vs Hyundai Alcazar: The best three row SUV

MG Astor vs Kia Seltos: The new Mid-Size SUV battle