Although in recent years the U.S. and worldwide SUV market has changed, many people, especially families, still prefer to buy large, full size SUVs. Fullsize SUVs have definitely changed over the years, but space, safety, power, and comfort are still the areas that are compared by possible buyers, along with the addition of gas mileage.
Below you will find a comparison of the 2012 full size SUVs, laying out which is the best 2012 SUV in those 5 areas: room, safety, power, comfort, and fuel economy. Even though most of these vehicles are excellent and have far surpassed the quality of 10 to 15 years ago, I hope this Full Size SUV comparison will help you decide which 2012 SUV is the best for you!
2012 Fullsize SUV Comparison: Best In Size
In large SUV's, nothing quite says comfort like being able to stretch out and be comfortable for the long family drive. People do not buy full size SUV's, spending a large amount of money, to feel cramped in the back seat, to have their head hit the sealing getting out of the front seat, or to be elbow to elbow with only two people in the front. So lets look at which full size SUV's have the room desired and which ones do not.
Having driven and been a passenger in many Chevy Tahoe's, Ford Expeditions, and Dodge Durangos, my assumption before this Large SUV Comparison would have been that the American SUV's would be by far the largest. Not necessarily so. Averaging a ranking of 2.125 on a 1st to 6th scale, the Nissan Armada was surprisingly roomy on the inside. Although they only ranked 1st twice out of the eight interior measurements, the Nissan was in the top 3 in all eight.
Tied in second are the Toyota Sequoia and the Chevy Tahoe. Both of these vehicles had an average ranking of 2.875 out of 6 both. Even though the Tahoe only had one 1st, it never had a 6th, and stayed around 2nd or 3rd. The Toyota was 1st in 5 of the 8 measurements, but what held them down was that in front head room, rear head room, and rear leg room the Sequoia was dead last.
The weakest SUV on interior size was the Dodge Durango. The Durango was second best in front and rear head room, but they were last in every other measurement, averaging a ranking of 4.75 out of 6. The Dodge may have some strengths in other areas, but are definitely lacking in room.
Best 2012 Full Size SUV: Safety
In the Safety Comparison, all of the 2012 Large SUV's are on fairly even footing. All of these vehicles have standard 4 wheel anti-lock brakes, standard driver and passenger air bags, and standard anti-theft systems. The Tahoe is slightly ahead with its Onstar system that can automatically know when you have had a wreck, although the others are beginning to catch up with emergency assistance of their own, as Ford's Sync also has 911 assistance.
The only shortfall that I could find on the safety comparison is that the Toyota did not have available tire pressure monitoring systems. While Toyota owners may not care, and will, no doubt, save plenty by not having to pay for them to be changed over with every set of new tires, these systems are definitely helpful. Although I always recommend manually checking your air pressure, a system that can let you know that a tire's pressure is getting low while driving can mean the difference between a tire patch and a new tire and a new tire shroud due to a shredded tire.
2012 SUVs Compared: Power Comparison
While many people do not particularly hold power at the top of their checklist when buying an SUV, it is definitely in the top 5. Sure, most soccer moms that prefer SUV's will want the largest space and easiest drive, but they also want to hear the engine growl when accelerating, don't let them lie to you. Many full size SUV's can be equipped with their brand's truck V8, except the Honda which does not have a V8 in their truck either.
The top SUV in horsepower for 2012 is by far the Toyota Sequoia. Their 5.7L V8 packs a punch with 381 Horsepower. The related 401 Lb/Ft of torque is also enough to make any SUV buyer take notice. The next SUV in horsepower is the 2012 Dodge Durango. Although they did not do very well in the size comparison, the Durango's available 5.7 Hemi V8 is always going to be near the top in power. This year's Hemi comes complete with 360 Hp and 390 Lb/Ft of torque.
The Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition and the Nissan Armada all are about the same, ranging from 310 Hp to 332 Hp. However, the Nissan does have a little advantage over the other two with 385 Lb/Ft of torque to Ford's 365 Lb/Ft and Chevy's 367 Lb/Ft.
Finishing up last is the Honda Pilot who, as stated above, only has a V6 option. Their V6, although smaller than the V8's, can still handle most jobs as it is capable of 250 Hp and 253 Lb/Ft of torque. If Honda wants to be taken seriously in the Truck and SUV markets, however, they will at some point need to develop a V8 option.
Best Large 2012 SUV For Comfort
Gone are the days of the rough and rigid SUV's like the SUV's of the late 80's and early 90's. These vehicles are all very comfortable and now include many of the options that go into high-end luxury automobiles.
The most comfortable SUV in this comparison in my opinion is definitely the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. The Tahoe has more features available as a whole, but also has more of them that come standard rather than being an added option. The Tahoe Hybrid does not have some of the capabilities of Ford's Sync system, but they more than compensate. Tahoe's come standard with leather-appointed seats, heated seats, navigation, and more. They also have available Sunroof/Moon roof and DVD. The smooth ride of the Tahoe along with all the creature comforts makes any possible buyer not want to get out at the end of the test drive.
The next vehicle would have to be the Nissan Armada. The Armada also has many standard comfort options, including leather, but they do not have a navigation system or a built in hands-free communication system. All in all, however, these comforts along with the Armada's size make the Armada is one comfortable drive.
Third in this area would most likely be the Expedition. Ford's Sync system goes a long way in creature comforts, but the quiet ride and the availability of almost all of the options on the Tahoe make up the rest of the distance.
SUVs With Fuel Economy? Best 2012 Mileage
While SUV's have long been considered gas guzzling hogs by most environmentalists, large SUV's are now approaching an average of 20 mpg on the highway across the board. New concerns over gas mileage and fuel conservation have pushed SUV makers to find ways to make their large SUV's more fuel efficient.
The only large SUV that I could find with a Hybrid 4WD (all of the SUV's were compared with their 4WD option if available) was the Chevrolet Tahoe. The Tahoe's Hybrid option comes with the 6.0 L V8 which was known as a gas hog until modified with the GM hybrid technology. The Hybrid Tahoe provides ample efficiency with 23 mpg highway and 20 mpg in the city. The combined economy of 21 mpg is 5-6 mpg better than all of the competition.
The second best fuel economy in class was the Dodge Durango. The Dodge 5.7 Hemi offers 20 mpg highway and 13 mpg city mileage. The addition of a 6 speed transmission is what has helped the Dodge up its highway mpg, so the city mileage is still a bit low, bringing the combined economy down to 15 which is what all of the other vehicles average, for the most part.
The Honda Pilot's V6 does give a bit better mileage, 24 hwy and 17 city, but because I am comparing large engine 4WD SUV's I did not feel it really compares with the others.
Some SUV enthusiasts will be wondering why I did not include the Jeep Cherokee in this comparison. The Cherokee averages on the smaller side of this size range and many comparisons include it in their mid-size SUV's. The Cherokee also provides a V6 (similar to the Honda). Although I do feel the Jeep Cherokee is a great SUV and has a huge, highly devoted following, I felt that it did deserve to be compared to the mid-size market.
How Does This Full Size SUV Comparison Rate?
- Best Small Or Midsize Truck Of 2012
A comparison of the 2012 class of the best small or midsize pickups available today. What can these small trucks carry? What can they pull? And just how much gas could you save by having one?
- Protect Your Car From Hitting Deer: Deer Whistles For Cars
Hitting a deer can total your car or truck, so be prepared. Protect your vehicle with deer whistles to keep your bumper deer-free!
- Best Truck Bed Covers And Truck Bed Spray Liners
Are you stuck in the days when a plastic bed liner was the best you could get? Do you still have an old camper shell to use when you need a covered truck bed? Find out how truck bed spray liners and a foldable tonneau cover or another bed cover can h