Quite often, the term SUV has been used by different people to mean different things or car shapes or class. But SUV, short for Sport Utility Vehicle is a vehicle designed similar to the station wagon or estate car equipped with four wheel drive capabilities. It is used for both on and off road. This vehicle is built on a light truck chassis thus providing it the roughness to handle off road duties. This design of vehicle was popularized from the late 90s and early 2000s despite the high cost of maintenance as it is a fuel guzzler. The term SUV has however been mostly used to describe any car that has a high or raised ground clearance and is off road. With their body rested on a truck’s chassis and little or no attention paid to comfort, SUVs quickly ushered in the crossovers.
SUVs were considered cumbersome and good for jungle exploration activities. This led to the rise of crossovers which is basically a class of SUVs similar to cars. Mini SUVs and Compact SUVs fall in this category. We can say that this is an SUV with the comfort of a car.
Compact SUVs is a class of SUVs larger than the Mini SUVs but smaller than the mid size SUVs. Note that they fit in the larger category of crossovers SUVs the dominant class in the market today. They are SUVs with a length ranging from 4.25 meters to 4.6 meters and were introduced in the early 80s. Examples here are Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet S-10, Ford Ranger, Suzuki Grand Vitara etc.
Others include Toyota RAV4, and Mitsubishi Outlander.
Also known as subcompact SUV is a class of SUVs that has a length about 4.2 meters. This term is generally used to refer to a vehicle smaller than a compact SUV. The pioneer mini SUVS appeared in the 90s and they were highly off road. Examples here include the Suzuki Samurai, the Chevy Tracker, the Nissan Juke, Fiat Sedici, Mitsubishi Pajero Mini and Opel Moka.
Confusions are rife about the meanings of each of the above terms referring to vehicles, but paying closer attention to the classification, one can easily see the differences. SUV was a general name given to the pioneers of this class of vehicles, added comfort and reduction in off road abilities bore the crossover SUV. Compact SUVs are slightly larger than the Mini SUVs, but they both are Crossover SUVs.