High-clearance cars: overview, features, advantages and disadvantages

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

What is clearance?

The term "clearance" means the gap between the bottom point of the car and the road surface. For uninitiated car owners, the term may be better understood as "ground clearance."

This criterion plays an important role in the patency and controllability of the machine. In particular, a large height allows you to overcome high obstacles, but reduces maneuverability on the highway, making the car less stable. Based on this, all automakers are trying to adhere to common indicators, making minor differences of several millimeters.

Surface Rating, Automakers Tricks

The demand for a car with high 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 unique rating of cars with high clearance, it will look like this:

  • full-fledged "high" jeeps used for off-road driving - 40 mm or more;
  • four-wheel drive vans, SUVs - 20-35 mm;
  • crossovers - 18-25 mm;
  • 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 boundary of the engine to the level of the road surface. However, in most cases, the information is used "empty" cars, not equipped with protection for the sump. As a result, a metal or plastic shield reduces the figure by a few millimeters.

Rating sedans

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


As an example, we can cite several leaders of this segment in terms of sales figures for 2018:

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

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, stated in the passport data, is 190 and 195 mm.

Japanese family "rogue"

In addition, several more hatchbacks that are distinguished by "high rates" should be distinguished:

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

Rating wagons

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

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

  • Subaru Outback, built on the basis of Legasy, has 213 mm. clearance and all-wheel drive, making it the leader of the segment.
  • Audi A4 or A6 allroad quattro - 182 mm. ground clearance and permanent all-wheel drive with Torsen center-to-center "self-blocking", allow models to have good performance.
  • The Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain is another German all-terrain wagon. Four-wheel drive and a special "off-road" mode, raising the car 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 leading here: Lada Kalina and Lada Largus. According to the stated indicators of competitors in the Russian market, they do not.

You can’t call these cars a crossover or an SUV, but, based on cross-country ability, they belong to the category of cars with a stretch.

Classic "cars" with off-road performance

This category of cars with high ground clearance includes front-wheel drive sedans and hatchbacks, modified by the manufacturer to improved off-road performance. The popularity of such models can be traced to the growing demand for modifications with the Cross prefix. All of them differ from their predecessors in increased 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 - 215 mm;
  • Vesta SW Cross - 203 mm;
  • Vesta Cross - 203 mm;
  • Largus Cross - 195 mm;
  • Kalina Cross - 205 mm.

Do not forget about one of the founders of this series in the budget segment: Renault Sandero Stepway with an indicator of 195 mm without load.

Crossover Rating

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

Jeep Renegade

From the assortment that is available on the Russian market, one can note the following options:

  • Subaru Forester - "forester", characterized by high cross-country performance. One of the legendary cars with high ground clearance in Japan. It differs in a bit "clumsy" appearance and an impressive filling in the form of a turbocharged engine with a capacity of 280 horsepower. The clearance of this "rogue" 215 mm.
  • Jeep Renegade - a rare instance on Russian roads, showing a figure of 210 mm. Produced in collaboration with the American corporation Jeep and the French brand Fiat.
  • Renault Duster is the market leader in the Russian market for this segment. The relatively low cost, combined with good quality and average performance as a SUV, make it popular among 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 automotive market is replete with offers from European and Asian manufacturers, so finding a good crossover with high clearance will not be difficult.

SUV Rating

The list of SUVs with high clearance can be useful to off-road enthusiasts, since 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 ones, one can distinguish the following:

  • Jeep Wrangler is a great option for traveling together. Ground clearance 259 mm.
  • Nissan Patrol is the most cumbersome SUV 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-cylinder engine.
  • Land Rover Discovery - although the appearance of the eminent Englishman underwent significant changes, off-road qualities did not suffer from this. Its ground clearance of 283 mm makes it a leader among jeeps with high ground clearance.

Specialized cars

Kobmat T-98 - private project

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

  • Armored car "Combat T-98" weighing 4 tons. It is produced in small batches for 18 years, it is very difficult to block the car road - the reason is the clearance of 315 mm.
  • GAZ Tiger has been assembled under an individual order since 2005. Ground clearance of 400 mm.
  • Hummer H1 is the only representative from the rating that is often found on Russian roads. According to the given parameters it surpasses the Tiger by only 6 mm. Its size is 406 mm.
  • Toyota Mega Cruiser - Japanese "Hammer", in various respects inferior or superior to the American. The clearance of this car, the production of which was stopped 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 version 6x6, it was higher by 1 mm.

Four-wheel drive vans rating

Mitsubishi delica

Here we consider the modification of four-wheel drive vans with high clearance, designed to carry passengers. Commercial vehicles are not involved in the ranking. The leaders are such cars:

  • Mitsubishi Delica - a classic representative of the category, equipped with a convertible interior with a maximum number of seats no more than 7. The amount of clearance depends on the specific modification of the car. The maximum indicator is 205 mm.
  • Toyota Sienna - 5-door, 8-seater minibus. The clearance of this Japanese inspire confidence only in the first modifications. On them it reached 175 mm, but since 2010 it has significantly decreased to 157. 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 is even smaller, just 155 mm. For the Russian market was not produced.

Jeep racing with huge clearance

The height of the wheel of the average monster truck is 1.4 m, and the entire height of the car is 3.7 m. Racing on jeeps with huge wheels look impressive, cars are able to jump to a distance of 7-8 m.

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

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

All this only contributes to the popularity of the movement of big feet in the United States and becomes the reason for the improvement and reincarnation of obsolete models for the sole purpose - not to disappoint the viewer.

Monster truck listed in the Guinness Book of Records

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

Jeep racing with huge wheels is very popular in the United States. Not only competitions are held here annually, but also show shows with large cash prizes.

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

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