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High ground clearance vehicles: overview, features, advantages and disadvantages

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High ground clearance vehicles: overview, features, advantages and disadvantages
High ground clearance vehicles: overview, features, advantages and disadvantages

A passenger car with high ground clearance may be needed not only for frequent trips to nature, but also when driving through broken city streets. Mostly such cars belong to the classes of crossovers and SUVs. Such a wide demand was the reason that a new class appeared on the market, denoted by the prefix Cross - passenger cars with high ground clearance and plastic body protection.

What is ground clearance?

The term "clearance" means the gap between the lowest point of the car and the road surface. For uninitiated car owners, the term may be more understandable as "ground clearance".

This criterion plays an important role in the cross-country ability and handling of the car. In particular, high altitude allows you to overcome high obstacles, but reduces maneuverability on the track, making the car less stable. Based on this, all automakers are trying to stick to the same indicators, making minor differences of a few millimeters.

Surface rating, carmakers tricks

The demand for a car with high ground clearance is difficult to overestimate. The condition of Russian roads (especially in winter) leaves much to be desired, so almost every car owner dreams of seeing himself driving a car with high ground clearance.

If you build a kind of rating of high-clearance cars, it will look like this:

  • full-fledged "inflated" jeeps used for off-road driving - 40 mm or more;
  • 4WD vans, SUVs - 20-35mm;
  • crossovers - 18-25mm;
  • cars with the prefix "Cross" - 18-23 mm;
  • cars - 14-20 mm.

As mentioned earlier, the definition of vehicle clearance is calculated based on the distance from the lower limit of the engine to the level of the road surface. However, in most cases, information is used from an “empty” car that is not equipped with oil pan protection. As a result, a metal or plastic shield reduces the indicator by a few more millimeters.

Rating sedans

Cars with high ground clearance are the most sought after almost all over the world. The reserve of distance between the engine and the road allows you to regularly get out into nature, park freely, hanging the front bumper over the curb. These characteristics make it a good option for getting around the city.


As an example, we can cite several leaders in this segment in terms ofSelling Rate 2018:

  • Lada Vesta is the leader of Russian sales over the past period. The instruction manual contains information that its ground clearance is 171 mm, and when fully loaded, 144 mm should remain under engine protection. According to the results of measurements made by the specialists of the magazine "Behind the wheel", the lowest part is the center of the engine protection, under which 187 mm is obtained, which even exceeds the specified parameters. The fears that many have about the rear beam are misguided - here the distance to the ground is 191 mm.
  • Kia Rio - a Korean car with a Russian pedigree is in 2nd place in terms of sales. In comparison with Vesta, it is impossible to call it a passenger car with high ground clearance, since the size of the latter is only 160 mm, which is as much as 11 mm lower than the passport data of the Russian model. However, adaptation to operation in Russia is explained by the fact that European and Asian models are even lower. Their ground clearance is only 150mm.
  • Lada Granta, which replaced the domestic "classics", has retained its intended purpose - a budget car designed for the Russian outback. The clearance of a car can be called a record: up to 205 mm protection, and the height of the front bumper overhang is 250 mm, which allows you to easily overcome small obstacles in the form of curbs.

Hatchback Rating

It's nice that hatchbacks with high ground clearance represent 2 domestic cars. These are Lada XRAY and Lada Kalina-2. Their ground clearance, declared in the passportdata is 190 and 195 mm.

Japanese family "rogue"

In addition, there are a few more hatchbacks that are distinguished by "high performance":

  • Opel Mokka - 185mm;
  • Ford Fusion - 185mm;
  • Chery IndiS - 175mm;
  • Geely MK Cross - 175mm.

Rating of all-rounders

The great popularity of cars in this body design was the reason for the creation of a certain category, which can be called "off-road station wagons". This is determined by high ground clearance and a number of other additional elements that improve cross-country ability.

From the most popular station wagons with the highest ground clearance, the following models can be noted:

  • Subaru Outback, based on the Legasy, has 213mm. clearance and plug-in all-wheel drive, which makes it the leader in the segment.
  • Audi A4 or A6 allroad quattro - 182 mm. ground clearance and permanent drive to all 4 wheels with Torsen interaxle "self-blocking", allow the models to have good performance.
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain is another German all-terrain wagon. Four-wheel drive and a special "off-road" mode that lifts the car up to 176 mm. However, in comparison with the "Audi" looks rather weak.

The previously presented options can be attributed to the middle and premium class, as for budget SUVs with high ground clearance, 2 Russian models are in the lead here: Lada Kalina and Lada Largus. According to the declared indicators of competitors in the Russianthey have no market.

It is impossible to call these cars a crossover or an SUV, but, based on the cross-country ability, they are a stretch for the category of cars.

Classic cars with off-road performance

This category of vehicles with high clearance includes front-wheel drive sedans and hatchbacks, modified by the manufacturer to improve off-road performance. The popularity of such models can be traced to an increase in demand for modifications with the prefix Cross. All of them differ from their predecessors in increased ground clearance, the presence of plastic protection for body elements and a number of additional innovations.

Vesta Cross

In particular, this applies to cars of the Lada family:

  • XRAY Cross - 215mm;
  • Vesta SW Cross - 203mm;
  • Vesta Cross - 203mm;
  • Largus Cross - 195mm;
  • Kalina Cross – 205 mm.

Don't forget one of the pioneers of this series in the budget segment: Renault Sandero Stepway with 195mm no load.

Crossover Rating

The popularity of crossovers is increasing every day. The advantages of such cars are obvious: high ground clearance, spacious interior and trunk, compatible with the comfort of a passenger car.

Jeep Renegade

From the assortment that is available on the Russian market, the following options can be noted:

  • Subaru Forester is a forester with high cross-country ability. One of the legendary high ground clearance cars made in Japan. A little different"clumsy" appearance and impressive stuffing in the form of a turbocharged engine with a capacity of 280 horsepower. The clearance of this "rogue" is 215 mm.
  • Jeep Renegade is a rare specimen on Russian roads, showing a figure of 210 mm. Produced in cooperation with the American Jeep Corporation and the French brand Fiat.
  • Renault Duster is the sales leader in the Russian market of this segment. The relatively low cost, combined with good quality and average cross-country performance as an SUV, make it popular among both young people and the older generation of car owners.
  • Toyota RAV4 is a medium-sized SUV that perfectly combines the price-quality ratio. In terms of ride height, it is significantly inferior, here it is only 197 mm.

The Russian car market is full of offers from European and Asian manufacturers, so finding a good crossover with high ground clearance will not be difficult.

Off-road rating

The list of SUVs with high ground clearance can be useful for off-road enthusiasts, as this indicator is one of the key when driving through the forests and swamps of Russia. Of the cars that do not belong to the group of specialized, we can distinguish the following:

  • Jeep Wrangler is a great option for traveling as a couple. Ground clearance 259 mm.
  • Nissan Patrol is the bulkiest off-road vehicle produced by the concern with an indicator of 274 mm and a multi-mode all-wheel drive system. A real frame SUV with a V-shaped 8-cylinderengine.
  • Land Rover Discovery - although the appearance of the eminent Englishman has undergone significant changes, the off-road qualities have not suffered from this. Its ground clearance of 283mm makes it the leader among high-clearance Jeeps.

Specialized vehicles

Kommat T-98 - a private project

This category includes specialized vehicles, the purpose of which is to pass through a small tank:

  • Armored car "Combat T-98" weighing 4 tons. It has been produced in small batches for 18 years, it is very difficult to block the road for a car - the ground clearance is 315 mm.
  • GAZ "Tiger" has been assembled under an individual order since 2005. Ground clearance is 400 mm.
  • Hummer H1 is the only representative from the rating, which is often found on Russian roads. According to the specified parameters, it surpasses the "Tiger" by only 6 mm. Its size is 406 mm.
  • Toyota Mega Cruiser is a Japanese "Hammer", inferior or superior to the American in various parameters. The ground clearance of this car, which was discontinued in 2002, is 420 mm.
  • Mercedes G500 4x4² - the leader of the list, having a clearance of 2 times more than the UAZ Patriot, 450 mm. You can give an example of a German pickup truck version 6x6, it was 1 mm higher.

4WD Van Rating

Mitsubishi Delica

Here we consider modifications of all-wheel drive vans with high ground clearance, designed to carry passengers. Commercial vehicles are not included in the rating. leadersare the following cars:

  • Mitsubishi Delica is a classic representative of the category, equipped with a convertible interior with a maximum number of seats no more than 7. The amount of ground clearance depends on the specific modification of the car. Max 205mm.
  • Toyota Sienna - 5-door, 8-seater minibus. The clearance of this Japanese inspired confidence only in the first modifications. On them, it reached 175 mm, but since 2010 it has dropped significantly to 157 mm. For Russia, the model was not produced, the specimens found on domestic roads are cars imported from Europe and Asia.
  • Honda Odyssey - 5-door, 7-seater minivan. The Honda figure is even smaller, only 155 mm. Not produced for the Russian market.

High ground clearance jeep racing

The wheel height of an average monster truck is 1.4m and the entire height of the car is 3.7m.

Competitions of this kind appeared at the turn of the 70s. last century. Over time, they have become a symbol of America along with NASCAR racing. Their members are constantly in the field of view of the fans and earn good money from this:

  • Clothing with symbols of your favorite teams or cars.
  • Shooting commercials.
  • Taking a prototype car to create a computer game.

All this only contributes to the popularity of the big foot movement in the US and becomes an excuse for the improvement and reincarnation of outdated modelsfor the sole purpose of not disappointing the viewer.

Monster truck, listed in the Guinness Book of Records

The big-foot design is built on a space frame, on which all the main suspension components are fixed: 2 axles from cargo tractors, mounted on 8 shock absorbers, divided by 4 for each wheel. On top of the structure, a pickup truck body or a plastic body of any other custom-made (at the request of the owner) is installed.

In the United States, jeep racing with huge wheels is very popular. Not only competitions are held here every year, but also demonstration shows with large cash prizes.

Thus, there are many varieties of cars with high ground clearance in the world. Starting from small hatchbacks like Lada Kalina and ending with the largest Bigfoot-5 monster truck with a height of 4.7 m.

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