You deserve a gold star for preparing for the next natural disaster, but at the risk of dampening your enthusiasm we have to advise that a couple of extra inches of ground clearance probably won’t make a difference in a major storm such as Hurricane Sandy. The video and photographs from New York and New Jersey showed SUVs floating in water that could be measured by the foot. Ground clearance is measured by the inch.
For example, the Toyota FJ Cruiser has 9.6 inches of ground clearance, the Chevrolet Tahoe has 10.5 inches, the Jeep Wrangler Sahara comes in at 10.6 inches and the Land Rover Range Rover’s adjustable suspension increases clearance to 11.6 inches. Those are among the SUVs with higher ground clearance than most.
In comparison, most cars have 5 to 6 inches of clearance, and some crossovers have only a little more, such as the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson at 6.7 inches. Most SUVs have more than 7 inches of clearance.
If a fire hydrant or water main floods your street, having 3 or 4 more inches of space under your SUV could be enough clearance to keep the engine and interior dry. But if the Atlantic Ocean rolls into your neighborhood, even Big Foot is likely to get swamped by the flooding.
If you want to continue your search for a “high rider,” you can check the specifications in the model reports for SUVs in the Cars.com Research section.
In addition to ground clearance, you might also check into the water-fording ability of off-road capable SUVs. Jeep, for example, says the Grand Cherokee can safely be driven through 20 inches of water, and the Wrangler through up to 30 inches; the Range Rover tops both at 35 inches. Even so, that doesn’t mean these vehicles can sit in 3 feet of water for days and not suffer any damage.
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