SUVs are everywhere, ranging from front-wheel drive, city-oriented models to heavy-duty off-roaders, to high-performance machines.

One of the most appealing attributes to SUV buyers is the elevated ride height these vehicles offer. Whether you’re going off-road or just looking for a more comfortable vehicle to load babies into or get in and out of after a hip replacement, this sprawling category of vehicles holds enormous appeal to Australian buyers.

We’ve broken down SUVs from mass-market brands by segment, and listed manufacturers’ claimed ground clearance figures – sourced from the manufacturers themselves and/or industry databases.

In an upcoming article, we’ll look at SUVs from luxury brands.

Sometimes, manufacturers quote a running clearance figure, while other times they quote a ground clearance figure.

Ground clearance is defined in Australian Design Rules as being “the minimum distance to the ground from a point on the underside of the vehicle”, excluding parts like the tyres, wheels, brake backing plates or mudguards.

Running clearance, in contrast, is defined as “the distance from the surface on which an unladen vehicle is standing to the lowest point on the vehicle excluding unsprung mass”.

While they’re sometimes used interchangeably, there’s a distinction between those two definitions – one that’s going to be much more relevant to you if you’re intent on tackling trails and not just tackling the Target car park. As running clearance excludes unsprung mass, it doesn’t take into account components like differentials.

A few millimetres mightn’t sound like much, but if you’re on a rocky trail it can make all the difference.

Light SUVs

Unsurprisingly, the rugged Suzuki Jimny – the only genuine off-roader in this segment – boasts the highest ground clearance at 210mm.

Of the crossovers, the CX-3 has the lowest ground clearance figure of 155mm while the Volkswagen T-Cross has the highest at 185mm.

ModelDrive typeGround clearance
Ford PumaFWD164mm-166mm
Hyundai VenueFWD170mm
Kia StonicFWD165mm (S), 183mm (Sport & GT-Line)
Mazda CX-3FWD155mm
Nissan JukeFWD172mm
Renault CapturFWD165mm
Suzuki IgnisFWD180mm
Suzuki Jimny4WD210mm
Toyota Yaris CrossFWD or AWD170mm
Volkswagen T-CrossFWD185mm

Small SUVs

The Jeep Compass Trailhawk stands tallest with a 225mm ground clearance figure, though Peugeot quotes 221mm for its 2008 and the Subaru Crosstrek is fractionally behind at 220mm.

The Toyota C-HR, set to be replaced in the first half of 2024, has the lowest ground clearance figure at just 137mm.

ModelDrive typeGround clearance
Chery Omoda 5FWDNo figure available
Citroen C4FWD156mm
GWM Haval JolionFWD168mm
Honda HR-VFWD195mm
Hyundai KonaFWD or AWD170mm (base), 177-178mm (others)
Hyundai Kona ElectricFWD158mm
Jeep CompassFWD or AWD186mm (Night Eagle), 212mm (Limited, S-Limited), 225mm (Trailhawk)
Kia NiroFWD150mm (EV models), 160mm (hybrids)
Kia SeltosFWD or AWD170mm
Mazda CX-30FWD or AWD175mm
Mazda MX-30FWD180mm (G20e), 135mm (E35)
Mitsubishi ASXFWD205mm
Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossFWD or AWD180mm (petrol), 188mm (PHEV)
Nissan QashqaiFWD193mm
Peugeot 2008FWD221mm
Renault ArkanaFWD199mm
Skoda KamiqFWD188mm
Subaru CrosstrekAWD220mm
Suzuki S-CrossFWD175mm
Suzuki VitaraFWD or AWD185mm
Toyota C-HRFWD or AWD137mm
Toyota Corolla CrossFWD or AWD160mm
Volkswagen T-RocFWD or AWD155mm (110TSI, 140TSI), 145mm (R)

Mid-sized SUVs

The Peugeot 5008 has the highest claimed ground clearance figure in this segment at 236mm, just ahead of the Mahindra XUV700 at 229mm and Subaru Forester at 220mm.

The MG HS is the lowest at 145mm.

ModelDrive typeGround clearance
BYD Atto 3FWD175mm
Citroen C5 AircrossFWD182mm
Cupra AtecaAWD160mm
Cupra FormentorFWD or AWD161mm (VZe and VZx), 170mm (V and VZ)
Ford EscapeFWD or AWD178mm (ST-Line), 190-191mm (FWD, Vignale)
GWM Haval H6FWD or AWD170mm
GWM Haval H6 GTFWD or AWD165mm
Honda CR-VFWD or AWD198mm (FWD), 208mm (AWD)
Honda ZR-VFWD or AWD178mm (VTi X), 186mm (all other variants)
Hyundai Ioniq 5RWD or AWD160mm
Hyundai TucsonFWD or AWD181mm
Kia Sportage FWD or AWD181mm
Mahindra XUV700FWD229mm
Mazda CX-5FWD or AWD200mm (GT SP, Akera), 193mm (all others)
Mazda CX-60AWD176mm (Evolve), 182mm (GT, Azami)
MG HSFWD or AWD145mm
Mitsubishi OutlanderFWD or AWD205mm (ES, LS), 210mm (Aspire, Exceed, Exceed Tourer)
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVAWD199mm (ES), 203mm (others)
Nissan X-TrailFWD or AWD205mm
Peugeot 3008FWD219mm
Peugeot 5008FWD236mm
Renault KoleosFWD or AWD210mm
Skoda KaroqFWD or AWD164mm (140TSI), 172mm (110TSI)
SsangYong KorandoFWD or AWD182mm
Subaru ForesterAWD220mm
Tesla Model YRWD or AWD167mm
Toyota RAV4FWD or AWD190-200mm
Volkswagen TiguanFWD or AWD170mm (110TSI), 182mm (132TSI), 147TDI (179mm), 162TSI (185mm)

Large SUVs

The large SUV segment is more diverse than the others, with a mix of car-based crossovers and body-on-frame SUVs that are typically based on a ute platform.

While most of these body-on-frame vehicles have claimed ground clearance comfortably over 200mm, it’s the unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee in Overland and Summit Reserve trims which can offer the most clearance. With their air suspension in the most serious off-road setting, these variants boast 276mm of ground clearance.

The more wagon-like Volkswagen Passat Alltrack has the lowest figure at 173mm.

ModelDrive typeGround clearance
Ford EverestRWD or 4WD229mm
GWM Tank 3004WD224mm
Hyundai PalisadeFWD or AWD203mm
Hyundai Santa FeFWD or AWD176mm
Isuzu MU-XRWD or 4WD230mm (LS-M), 235mm (LS-U, LS-T)
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD214mm (Night Eagle, Limited), 193-276mm (Overland, Summit Reserve 4xe depending on air suspension mode)
Jeep Grand Cherokee L4WD215mm (Night Eagle, Limited), 194-276mm (Overland, Summit Reserve depending on air suspension mode)
Jeep Wrangler4WD225mm (Rubicon 2-dr),
232mm (Night Eagle Unlimited), 242mm (Overland Unlimited), 252mm (Rubicon Unlimited)
Kia EV6RWD or AWD160mm
Kia SorentoFWD or AWD176mm
LDV D90RWD or 4WD210mm
Mahindra Scorpio4WD227mm
Mazda CX-8FWD or AWD200mm (Sport, Touring), 205mm (all others)
Mazda CX-9FWD or AWD222mm
Mazda CX-90AWD203mm (Touring), 206mm (GT, Azami)
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport4WD218mm
Nissan PathfinderAWD178mm (Ti), 181mm (Ti-L)
Skoda KodiaqAWD192mm (Style, Sportline), 195mm (RS)
SsangYong Rexton4WD203mm
Subaru OutbackAWD213mm
Toyota Fortuner4WD216mm
Toyota KlugerFWD or AWD207mm
Toyota Prado4WD219mm
Volkswagen Passat AlltrackAWD173mm
Volkswagen Tiguan AllspaceFWD or AWD186mm

Upper Large SUVs

The Nissan Patrol has the highest claimed ground clearance in this small segment, with a figure of 273mm.

ModelDrive typeGround clearance
Nissan Patrol4WD273mm
Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series4WD245mm
Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series4WD230-235mm
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William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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