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4x4 Insurance Guide: Why SUVs Remain So Popular in South Africa


March 9, 2023


There is a fast-growing trend in the world – the rise in popularity of SUV cars. This includes regular SUVs, small SUVs, and even crossovers. Sleek and large, they are a force to be reckoned with under the hood and will take you from bustling traffic on the highway to relaxing on the quieter veld with great ease. If you fancy an SUV as a family car or even some off-road adventures, you should be prepared with 4x4 insurance from Auto and General. Find out more, as we took some time to find out why SUVs appeal to South African drivers and why you need to consider 4x4 car insurance. 




What is an SUV?


SUVs have becoming increasingly popular in South Africa.[1] You probably already knew that SUV stands for ‘sports utility vehicle’. It is a car classification that merges a typical on-road vehicle with the best features of off-road vehicles, such as higher ground clearance and the all-important four-wheel drive. 

Having said that, there is no set definition of an SUV. Still, some popular models include the Toyota Fortuner, Ford EcoSport, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Mazda CX-5 – all vastly different vehicles.




Why the SUV is the perfect family car

SUVs typically offer extra seating capacity when compared to sedans and hatchbacks, meaning that larger families are easily accommodated. Most SUV models can comfortably seat around five to nine passengers depending on the model, perfect for those with larger families. They also usually come with generous boot space to cart around the sports equipment, toys, prams, and everything else that comes with every outing when you have children.

Speaking of children, you can count on your SUV to be durable against spills, dirty shoes, mud, sticky fingers – all kinds of mess. Many of these vehicles are made with families in mind, providing easy clean-up to keep them looking and smelling good as new. 

As well as extra capacity, many SUVs offer the driver the option of configuring seating to allow for custom arrangements when buying one brand new. You can often choose the number of rows and seats to add your desired seating, including a roomier capacity for a growing family. This also makes them ideal for road trips and holiday travel.




Advantages of driving an SUV 


One of the major benefits when choosing an SUV is it typically offers the driver and their passengers stability and comfort when tasked with driving on South Africa’s not-so-safe roads. 

Some of the main benefits include:

  •  Comfort. The ample interiors of SUVs are one of the most luxurious benefits of comfort, whether you are the driver or a passenger. Sleek designs and more room for passengers mean you do not have to sacrifice style to have a robust car both on and off the road.

  • Safety. In an SUV, the driver sits higher in the vehicle than in a regular sedan or hatchback. This offers greater visibility for the driver and other cars on the road. In our experience, sitting higher above the ground is beneficial because you can see hazards such as potholes, debris, and other objects lying around on the road to avoid damaging your car. This is a big advantage when considering that some South African roads may not be in optimal condition, which is another reason to ensure you have 4x4 insurance or even tyre insurance. 

  • Versatility. One of the main benefits is the SUV's versatility in terms of peace of mind. The driver will know that their vehicle is safe and comfortable in urban contexts while also being able to provide an incredible off-road experience. We think this is one of the main reasons why SUVs are so popular. Heading into the bush feels more comfortable, knowing you have a vehicle that can handle tough terrain and, if the need ever arises, the ability to safely tow another vehicle. Some models also have the option of changing between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, so you can have the best of both worlds. 

  • Price. Depending on the model you are looking at, the price of SUVs varies as much as the types you can buy. Crossovers tend to be affordable to buy and light on fuel, making them a great budget option. 

  • Affordable SUV insurance. Because they often come with the latest safety features, SUVs are often more affordable to insure than you might think.

  • Boot space. Due to their size, you can expect an SUV to offer much more boot space than a hatchback or sedan.

  • Enjoyable to drive. Many modern SUVs are not clunky like they used to be. They offer a sleek look and a sporty feel that makes them fun to drive.

  • Automatic and manual transmissions. Most SUVs are available in automatic and manual transmissions. No matter your preferred vehicle configuration, you can likely find an SUV model that suits your needs. 




Top SUVs in South Africa

 Globally, SUVs are on an upward trend in popularity. This is one area of the motor industry that is excelling despite downturns with other kinds of vehicles. 

This is also true for the motor industry in South Africa. SUVs are highly versatile and have become increasingly sought-after at motor vehicle auctions and dealerships – it is an incredibly competitive segment at the moment.  

We can also see South African customers spend more time searching for SUVs on search engines than sedans. With our 30-plus years of experience in the car insurance industry, we can confidently predict this trend will in the future.

SUVs' popularity in South Africa is about more than just their look and ability to be a great family vehicle – more so than other parts of the world. Our country’s expansive network of gravel and dirt roads and potholes can be especially damaging to a car’s suspension and tyres. An SUV can typically survive in this kind of terrain without getting damaged. However, getting the right kind of protection in the form of off road insurance is still important. This will ensure you’re covered if you enjoy bundu-bashing offroad. 




Popular SUVs in South Africa

After reading about all the benefits, you might wonder which model you should go for. There are a lot of variables to consider, including your budget, driving style, and vehicle make and model preferences.

So how do you know which is right for you? Remember to consider your budget, personal preferences, and overall driving style when choosing a new car. No matter what type of car you buy, it is important to test drive the specific models you are interested in.

It is generally a good idea to consider your vehicle's resale value when shopping for any vehicle too. Because it is such a big purchase, thinking of the long-term makes for a sound financial decision. 

1. Ford

The Ford Figo Freestyle and EcoSport Ambiente Auto went on sale earlier this year and have fared relatively well despite the uncertain economic climate in South Africa and globally. These are examples of the mini SUV segment, which is expected to total 10% of all industry sales in 2020, with projections moving upwards after year-end. 

2. Mercedes-Benz

Another option is the Mercedes-Benz GL. Interestingly, this SUV is one of the most popular options in the United States, where it is one of the best-selling luxury SUVs. 

3. Land Rover

Of course, there is always the trusty Land Rover franchise, made for off-road adventuring, which includes models like the Freelander 2 and a choice of the Evoque, Sport, and flagship Range Rover.

4. Volkswagen

Another notable SUV is the Volkswagen Touareg, which is now in its third generation and has proven itself highly sought-after in both South African and global markets. Previous models of the Touareg sold around a million units per year, with the hopes that newer iterations perform just as well.

5. Hyundai

One surprising model to note is the Hyundai Creta. It retains its resale value extremely well, even though it may not be the car you think of when you think of a traditional SUV.

6. Toyota

As expected, Toyota remains one of the most dominant brands in this category, with the highly desired Toyota Land Cruiser gaining the most traction since 2019. The Land Cruiser is extremely popular worldwide, and is sold in over 190 countries across the globe. Toyota is one of the most popular brands of vehicles in South Africa.

These are just a few great options to consider, but we recommend doing your research to determine the specifics that will suit you.


What is 4x4 insurance?




4x4x or SUV insurance is a type of car insurance policy designed to provide cover for SUVs used for off road activities. Typically, a standard car insurance policy will not provide enough cover for certain types of damage or accidents that occur during offroad adventures.  On the other hand, a good 4x4 insurance policy will include cover for a range of off road pursuits, like trail riding, rock crawling, dune  and desert bashing, and even challenging mud trails. Your cover may also include add-on features, like roadside assistance and towing. 





The reasons why you need 4x4 insurance 

1. SUV insurance is designed specifically for off road activities, not covered by a standard car insurance policy. If you incur damage to your vehicle, or another vehicle due to offroading and you don’t have 4x4 insurance, your claim could be rejected. Discover more about car insurance in our Car Insurance & Vehicle Finance Guide. 

2. Financial cover. Offroading is fun, but it’s also quite hard on your vehicle. The best 4x4 insurance will also offer your cover for repairing and replacing damaged parts.

3. Towing, storage and roadside assistance. This is important if you should break down or run into difficulties while you're offroading. 

4. Auto and General 4x4 car insurance covers neighbouring SADC countries. Just let us know when you’re planning a cross-border trip, and you can be rest assured that you will be covered during your trip. 


Get 4x4 insurance for your SUV with Auto and General 

From its accessibility, added visibility, and large capacity, an SUV could be the best vehicle for your needs if you enjoy some offroading activities. Ensure you’re covered and request a quick off road vehicle insurance quotes online.

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