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I have a 2002 Honda Accord, which has a stated ground clearance of 6.2 inches. I am looking to replace it with a small SUV/crossover and was looking at a Hyundai Tucson. But when I google the specs I see the ground clearance reported as 6.4 inches - a mere 0.2 inches higher than my Accord. Yet the Tuscon appears to be visibly higher than the Accord!

So how is the ground clearance typically measured? And is it just my perception that in this case the Tuscon should have more ground clearance than my Accord?

Images from Hyundai and Autoblog

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  • It only looks higher because it's taller. I don't know exactly how ground clearance is figured, but would assume it is the lowest point of the vehicle (besides the tires). – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 19 at 18:20
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 The Tuscon being higher should make it's clearance look proportionally smaller given the Accord has roughly the same clearance. – Peter M Aug 19 at 18:26
  • It's all a matter of perspective. You can't really compare the two images and say it looks taller. There's no way to tell the difference and get a good comparison. You don't know the wheelbases. You don't know how tall either is. It's all a matter of perspective. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 19 at 18:30
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 I understand that I can't directly compare the two images. They are for illustration purposes only. But physically the Tuscon is a about 10" taller than the Accord. – Peter M Aug 19 at 18:34
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    You can't see the thing at the minimum clearance in either picture. It will be something in the suspension or power train, not the bodywork. – alephzero Aug 19 at 19:45
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Ultimately it may not matter how it's measured. If you have a certain application in mind you should probably just get a look under each type and see what kind of clearance it has. The low point may be on the suspension near the wheels, but it may also be closer to the center. Consider that many lifted 4x4s have the low point at the differential housing in the center of the axle, but may have a few more inches on either side that would effectively allow them to clear an obstacle taller than their "official" maximum clearance point.

Also consider that in practical terms you may be more likely to encounter a poor road with a lot of potholes/divots than one with large obstructions. In that case low points nearer to the wheel are less important because they will still clear when the wheel enters the hole, and it's components more near the center that potentially can hit on the edge of the hole.

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    This is marketed as a crossover vehicle. It's not meant to go anywhere that a standard car couldn't go. If just give you a higher riding position, and the illusion that you are somehow "safer" than in a standard car. – alephzero Aug 19 at 20:55
  • @alephzero Yet published clearance in the same class: Crosstrek 8.7", Rav4 8.4", Rogue 8.4", CR-V 7.8", Equinox 6.9", Sportage 6.8". So all crossovers are not equal - or equal to sedans. And I have no illusions about safety – Peter M Aug 19 at 21:51
  • @alephzero I'm not making assumptions about where the vehicle is going to be used, just the practical differences in ground clearance. I assume it matters for some reason (even just being able to drive over a curb) because it's the focus of the OP's question. – Christopher Hunter Aug 19 at 23:21
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It will usually be the suspension components at the wheels - they tend to be similar until you get to larger wheels...

So, the lower arm ball joint or king pin joint is the most likely candidate, while you can jack a car up, the suspension "droops" until it reaches maximum travel. Given that some cars have different wheels, the offset of the wheel can also make a difference - some are deep enough to have that king pin joint inside the inner edge of the wheel, so a different point then becomes the lowest..

The difference for 4x4 is that they may only have 8" clearance to a given low point of the suspension but the available movement for the wheel compared to the body can be so much more - 20 or 22" and on custom ones even more. Which is why it is so impressive to see the "axle twisters" in the 4x4 competitions...

  • OK, but to throw in another data point. The Crosstrek has similar tire sizes to the Tuscon, yet sports 2.3" more publicized clearance (8.7"). So you are saying that the Subaru suspension design at the wheel hub is 2"+ higher than the equivalant Hyundai? – Peter M Aug 19 at 18:43
  • And that the difference I am seeing between the Accord and Tuscon is that the Tuscon's body is higher up than the Accord's compared with the low point of the suspension? – Peter M Aug 19 at 18:47
  • Think about the offset of the wheel - some are deep enough to have that king pin joint inside the inner edge of the wheel, so a different point then becomes the lowest... – Solar Mike Aug 19 at 18:51

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