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The Guardian has an article on SUVs. In it they say:

there is no strict definition of what constitutes an SUV

Without any reason that I can point at now, I had always thought that there was a legal category of vehicle that was what everyone called an SUV. In particular, I thought that "normal" cars all had to have their crumple zones at the same height, ensuring that in an accident the energy is transferred into the structure of the car and the passenger compartment is protected to the maximum extent possible. This minimises passenger injuries and deaths. This also makes them bad at off road by limiting the ground clearance, so there is an exception for vehicles that are ostensibly designed for off road. Vehicles that make use of this exception are quite visibly different, with much higher bumpers, and these vehicles are easily identified and generally referred to as SUVs. This class, being legally defined, would be strictly defined.

There article is quite anti-SUV, and spends a couple of paragraphs talking about the issue that many of these cars are designed but never used off road, so I would have expected them to mention this issue. This leads me to believe I may be mistaken.

What is the legal situation here? Is there a "bumper height law"? Does it correspond to the general public perception of "SUV"? Is it related to off road ability?

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  • Not in UK. That is not a vehicle category used in the V5C registration document. And the so-called 'road tax' is based on emissions. Nov 5, 2023 at 21:47

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The closest in Germany in regards to the requirement for an SUV might be the driver's license class. SUVs generally require a B-class, as they are less than 3.5 tons maximum allowable loaded weight, putting them into the exact same class as any other consumer car.

The EU has also vehicle type classification according to UNECE and ACEA standards. According to that standard and an EC Report, the following classification exists for passenger cars:

Segment ACEA Description
J SUV Sport utility cars, also known as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), e.g.: Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander

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