As is the case in most evolving markets, the understanding of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in India has been hazy. Auto companies have benefited, with a flurry of wannabe UVs that have limited off roading capabilities but are still regarded as SUVs — and are sold as such.
Typically only those vehicles that have four-wheel drive (4X4) technology and have ground clearance good enough to answer the call of the wild are classified as SUVs. In India however, vehicles like the Mahindra Xylo, Toyota Innova, Force One, Chevrolet Tavera, Tata Sumo and even the popular Mahindra Bolero (in which 4X4 is optional) come with 4X2 drivetrain but are still seen as SUVs. In a four-wheel drive, power is distributed each wheel, unlike in a two-wheel drive where it goes to only two wheels — front or rear.
“In India, any vehicle that has a raised stance and a high ground clearance is looked at as a SUV,” said Prasan Firodia, managing director, Force Motors. “Very rarely do people actually take their vehicles out for serious offroading.”