Wheel Chasers

The Hidden Impact of Ground Clearance: How It Impacts SUV Performance

The Importance of Ground Clearance in SUVs

You’re in the market for a new car, and you’ve narrowed your choices down to SUVs. You’ve researched and compared engine performance, storage capacity, seating arrangements, and safety features. But there’s one factor you may have overlooked: ground clearance.

For those unfamiliar with the term, ground clearance refers to the space between the underside of the vehicle and the road surface. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of ground clearance in SUVs, as well as how it impacts car performance.

Why is Ground Clearance Important in SUVs? There are a few reasons why ground clearance is crucial in SUVs. Firstly, SUVs are designed to handle off-road terrain, making them an ideal choice for drivers who enjoy outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.

These vehicles can navigate through rocky terrain, shallow streams, mud, sand, and snowy roads. A higher ground clearance means that the vehicle can pass over obstacles more easily, without damaging the undercarriage or getting stuck.

Secondly, SUVs are larger and heavier than most cars, which means that they have a higher center of gravity. A high center of gravity increases the risk of rollovers, especially when taking sharp turns or driving on uneven roads.

A higher ground clearance can offset the risk of rollovers by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity. Thirdly, ground clearance affects the amount of cargo and passengers the vehicle can carry.

A higher ground clearance allows for more storage space underneath the vehicle, which can be used for suitcases, camping gear, or sports equipment. It also allows for better passenger clearance, which means that the vehicle can accommodate taller passengers and provide a more comfortable ride.

How Does Ground Clearance Impact Car Performance? Ground clearance can impact car performance in several ways.

One of the most significant impacts is on the vehicle’s handling and stability. Vehicles with a high ground clearance tend to have a softer suspension system, which can result in a smoother ride over bumpy terrain.

However, this can also lead to a loss of stability and control at high speeds or when taking sharp turns. On the other hand, vehicles with a low ground clearance tend to have a stiffer suspension system, which provides better handling and stability but can lead to a rougher ride.

Another way ground clearance impacts car performance is through fuel efficiency. A higher ground clearance adds weight to the vehicle, which can increase fuel consumption.

This is because the engine has to work harder to move the vehicle, especially when driving uphill or on rough terrain. In contrast, a lower ground clearance means that the vehicle is lighter and more aerodynamic, which can result in better fuel efficiency.

Ground clearance also affects the car’s ability to tow heavy loads. A higher ground clearance can limit the towing capacity of the vehicle, as it can cause the trailer to tilt and sway.

A lower ground clearance allows for more weight to be distributed evenly across the vehicle and trailer, which can improve stability and control. In conclusion, ground clearance is an essential factor to consider when choosing an SUV.

It affects the vehicle’s ability to navigate off-road terrain, reduces the risk of rollovers, allows for better cargo and passenger clearance, and impacts car performance in terms of handling, stability, fuel efficiency, and towing capacity. When making your decision, be sure to choose a ground clearance that suits your needs and driving habits.

Differences in Ground Clearance Among Different SUV Models

SUVs come in a variety of models, each with different specifications and ground clearance. Ground clearance plays a crucial role in ensuring that the vehicle can navigate through different terrains safely.

In this article, we will explore the various SUV models and their ground clearance specifications. 1.

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic off-road vehicle known for its incredible off-road capabilities. It has a ground clearance of 10.8 inches, which is among the highest for any SUV.

The high ground clearance allows the Wrangler to tackle tough terrain with ease. 2.

Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner is a rugged SUV that is designed to handle the toughest of terrains. It comes with either a 7.5-inch or 9-inch ground clearance, depending on the model.

The increased ground clearance allows the 4Runner to handle obstacles such as large rocks, steep inclines, and deep sand. 3.

Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender is another iconic off-road vehicle. It has a ground clearance of 11.5 inches, which is one of the highest ground clearances among SUVs. The Defender’s high ground clearance allows it to tackle extreme off-road terrains such as mud, snow, and sand.

4. Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a versatile SUV that is designed for adventure.

It has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which is higher than most SUVs in its class. The increased ground clearance allows the Forester to navigate through deep snow and tough terrains.

5. Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco is an off-road vehicle that has a ground clearance of 11.6 inches.

The high ground clearance allows it to navigate over obstacles easily. The Bronco is also equipped with the latest technology to ensure that it can handle any terrain, including rocks and sand.

Off-Roading with Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a versatile SUV that provides an excellent driving experience both on road and off-road. In this section, we will explore its off-road capabilities in detail.

The Subaru Forester comes equipped with features designed specifically for off-road driving. When it comes to off-roading, traction is crucial, and the Forester’s all-wheel-drive system ensures that power is delivered to all four wheels for maximum grip.

The Forester also has X-Mode, a feature that optimizes the car’s powertrain and stability control systems for difficult driving conditions such as mud, snow, and steep terrain. The Forester also has an increased ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which allows it to tackle more challenging terrains.

The car’s hill descent control system ensures that the driver maintains a safe and consistent speed while descending a slope. The Forester’s suspension system is also designed to provide a comfortable driving experience on rough terrains and bumpy roads.

The SUV is equipped with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a double-wishbone rear suspension that ensures the vehicle remains stable and comfortable, even on uneven roads. Another important feature of the Forester is its durable body design.

The SUV has a strong, lightweight body that is designed to withstand the toughest of terrains. The vehicle’s underbody is also protected with skid plates that ensure that vital components are safe from rocks and debris.

The Forester also comes equipped with advanced safety features such as EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This feature includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking, among others.

These features ensure that the driver can concentrate on off-roading without worrying too much about safety. In conclusion, the Subaru Forester is an excellent SUV for off-roading.

It comes equipped with features that ensure maximum grip, stability, and comfort on difficult terrains. The car’s all-wheel-drive system, hill descent control, increased ground clearance, and durable body design make it an ideal SUV for adventure seekers.

Subaru Forester vs Competitors in Terms of Ground Clearance

The Subaru Forester is a popular SUV that is designed for adventure. One of the key features that make the Forester great for off-roading is its high ground clearance.

But how does the Forester compare to other SUVs in terms of ground clearance? In this section, we will compare the Subaru Forester to its competitors in terms of ground clearance.

1. Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is a popular SUV that is designed for urban driving and light off-roading.

The RAV4 has a ground clearance of 8.6 inches, which is slightly less than the Forester’s ground clearance of 8.7 inches. 2.

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a versatile SUV that is designed for urban driving and light off-roading. The CR-V has a ground clearance of 7.8 inches, which is lower than the Forester’s ground clearance.

3. Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is a compact SUV that is designed for urban driving and light off-roading.

The Escape has a ground clearance of 7.9 inches, which is lower than the Forester’s ground clearance. 4.

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is a sleek and stylish SUV that is designed for urban driving and light off-roading. The CX-5 has a ground clearance of 7.5 inches, which is significantly lower than the Forester’s ground clearance.

5. Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is an off-road SUV that is designed to handle tough terrains.

The Cherokee has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which is the same as the Forester’s ground clearance. Can Ground Clearance be Increased in a Subaru Forester?

Ground clearance is an important factor to consider when choosing an SUV. The higher the ground clearance, the easier it is to tackle challenging terrains.

For those who are looking to increase the ground clearance of their Subaru Forester, there are a few options available. 1.

Lift Kit

A lift kit is an aftermarket accessory that is designed to lift the body of the car higher off the ground. Lift kits usually raise the body by 1-2 inches, which can significantly increase the ground clearance of the car.

However, lift kits can be expensive, and they can also affect the car’s handling and stability. 2.

Suspension System

The suspension system of a car is responsible for absorbing shocks from the road and providing a smooth ride. Upgrading the suspension system can help increase the ground clearance of a car.

Upgraded shocks and struts can help the car handle better and provide a smoother ride, even on rough terrains. 3.


Choosing larger and taller tires can also help increase the ground clearance of the car. Larger tires provide more space between the car and the ground, which can be beneficial when driving on rough terrains.

However, larger tires can also affect the car’s handling and fuel efficiency. In conclusion, the Subaru Forester has a ground clearance that is comparable to its competitors.

However, for those who are looking to increase the ground clearance of their Forester, there are options available such as lift kits, upgraded suspension systems, and larger tires. It is important to do research and consult with a professional before making any modifications to the car.

Maintenance Tips for Ground Clearance in SUVs

A high ground clearance is one of the crucial features of an SUV, especially for off-roading. The ground clearance of an SUV should be maintained to ensure safe and optimum performance.

In this section, we will discuss some maintenance tips for ground clearance in SUVs.

1. Inspect the undercarriage regularly

The undercarriage of an SUV is exposed to dirt, debris, and rocks, especially when off-roading.

Inspect the undercarriage regularly to ensure that no parts are damaged. Check for any dents, scratches, or physical damage to the undercarriage.

Replace any broken parts immediately to avoid further damage. 2.

Check the shocks and struts

The shocks and struts are an essential part of an SUV’s suspension system. These parts help absorb shocks and provide a smooth ride, especially on rough terrains.

Check the shocks and struts regularly to ensure that they are functioning correctly. Damaged shocks and struts can affect the car’s handling and stability, and they can also affect the ground clearance.

3. Check the tires

Tire pressure and condition are critical for maintaining ground clearance.

Check the tire pressure regularly and ensure that it is within the manufacturer’s recommended range. When off-roading, ensure that the tires have enough tread to provide maximum traction.

Failure to maintain proper tire pressure and condition can result in reduced ground clearance and poor off-road performance. 4.

Replace damaged skid plates

Skid plates are protective shields that are placed underneath the SUV’s body to protect the car’s undercarriage from damage from rocks and other debris. These plates can get damaged when the car hits a rock or other debris on the road.

When the skid plate is damaged, the SUV’s ground clearance can be reduced, and it can expose the car’s vital parts to damage. Replace damaged skid plates immediately to maintain the SUV’s ground clearance.

Effects of Lowered Ground Clearance on a Subaru Forester

Lowered ground clearance is a common modification that some SUV owners may opt for due to personal preferences or aesthetic reasons. In this section, we will discuss the effects of lowered ground clearance on a Subaru Forester.

1. Poor handling and stability

Lowering the ground clearance of a car can result in decreased handling and stability.

This is because the suspension system of the car is altered, affecting its handling and stability. Lowering the ground clearance can also result in reduced clearance between the car and the ground, leading to more contact with the road surface, which can cause handling problems.

2. Reduced off-road capability

A lower ground clearance reduces an SUV’s off-road capabilities as it can affect the car’s ability to pass over obstacles.

The Subaru Forester is designed to handle off-road terrains, and lowering its ground clearance can limit its capability to navigate rough terrains, such as bumpy roads, rocks, and uneven terrain. 3.

Increased likelihood of damage

A lower ground clearance exposes the SUV’s undercarriage and other vital parts to damage. Any sudden bump or pothole on the road can damage these parts, leading to costly repairs.

The increased contact between the car’s bottom and the road surface can also result in scratches and other physical damage. 4.

Decreased resale value

Lowering the ground clearance of an SUV can decrease its value when selling it. Most potential buyers of a Subaru Forester look for vehicles that are designed for off-roading and have a high ground clearance.

Lowering the car’s ground clearance can limit its appeal to potential buyers. In conclusion, a reduced ground clearance can significantly affect the performance and handling of an SUV, including the Subaru Forester.

Thus, owners must always consider the effect lowered ground clearance has on their vehicles before modifying them. It is of utmost importance to follow the recommended maintenance tips for ground clearance to ensure maximum vehicle performance and safety.

Accessories to Enhance Ground Clearance in Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a versatile SUV that is well-known for its off-road capabilities. However, for those looking to further enhance their Forester’s ground clearance, there are several accessories available.

In this section, we will discuss some popular accessories that can help improve ground clearance in the Subaru Forester. 1.

Lift Kits

One of the most common accessories used to increase ground clearance is a lift kit. Lift kits raise the body and suspension of the vehicle, allowing for larger tires and increased ground clearance.

There are various types of lift kits available, ranging from spacer kits to more complex suspension lift kits. It’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a lift kit for your Forester, as different kits can provide different levels of lift.

2. Skid Plates

Skid plates are protective plates that are installed under the vehicle’s body to shield vulnerable components like the engine, transmission, and fuel tank from damage.

By adding skid plates to your Forester, you can increase ground clearance while also providing essential protection for off-road adventures. Skid plates are typically made from durable materials such as aluminum or steel, ensuring they can withstand the rigors of rough terrains.

3. Off-Road Tires

Another way to increase ground clearance is by fitting your Subaru Forester with off-road tires.

Off-road tires have a more aggressive tread pattern, providing better traction in off-road conditions. Additionally, larger tires can increase ground clearance, as they raise the vehicle’s overall height.

However, it’s important to consider the size of the tires carefully to ensure they do not affect the Forester’s handling or cause clearance issues with the wheel wells. 4.

Suspension Upgrades

Upgrading the suspension system is another option to consider when looking to enhance ground clearance. Performance shocks and struts can provide increased clearance by offering better articulation and improved ride height.

Additionally, adjustable suspension components, such as coilovers, can allow for fine-tuning of the vehicle’s height to meet specific off-road requirements.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Subaru Forester with a Suitable Ground Clearance

When purchasing a Subaru Forester, one of the critical factors to consider is the vehicle’s ground clearance. The suitable ground clearance for your needs will depend on several factors.

In this section, we will discuss some of the factors to consider when choosing a Subaru Forester with a suitable ground clearance. 1.

Off-Road Requirements

Consider the type of off-road terrain you plan to tackle regularly. If you frequently encounter rough terrains with obstacles such as rocks, deep ruts, or steep inclines, a higher ground clearance would be more advantageous.

On the other hand, if you primarily stick to mild off-roading or urban driving, a slightly lower ground clearance may be sufficient. 2.

Driving Conditions

Evaluate the driving conditions in your area. If you live in an area prone to heavy snow, a higher ground clearance can help prevent the vehicle from getting stuck or bottoming out in deep snow.

Similarly, if you frequently encounter unpaved or poorly maintained roads, a higher ground clearance will enable you to navigate these conditions more comfortably. 3.

Passenger and Cargo Needs

Consider your typical passenger and cargo requirements. If you often carry a full complement of passengers or need ample cargo space, a lower ground clearance may provide easier access to the vehicle.

However, if you require additional storage space beneath the vehicle for activities like camping or off-roading gear, a higher ground clearance would be more beneficial. 4.

Personal Preference

Everyone’s personal preferences for vehicle aesthetics and driving experience differ. Some individuals may prefer the rugged and imposing look that comes with a higher ground clearance, while others may prefer a slightly lower profile.

It’s essential to choose a ground clearance that aligns with your personal preferences and driving style.


Enhancing ground clearance in a Subaru Forester can be achieved through various accessories such as lift kits, skid plates, off-road tires, and suspension upgrades. When choosing a Forester with a suitable ground clearance, factors to consider include your off-road requirements, driving conditions, passenger and cargo needs, and personal preferences.

By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that you select a Subaru Forester that meets your ground clearance needs and provides an excellent off-road experience.

Ground Clearance and Its Impact on Fuel Economy

Ground clearance is an important consideration for SUV owners, particularly for off-roading enthusiasts. However, it’s worth noting that ground clearance can also have an impact on fuel economy.

In this section, we will discuss the relationship between ground clearance and fuel economy, as well as some factors to consider. 1.


One of the key factors influencing fuel economy is aerodynamics. A higher ground clearance can result in increased air turbulence underneath the vehicle, which creates drag and reduces overall aerodynamic efficiency.

This increased drag, particularly at higher speeds, can lead to decreased fuel efficiency. 2.

Weight and Vehicle Design

Higher ground clearance often means a taller vehicle, which can result in increased weight compared to lower vehicles. The added weight can affect overall fuel economy, as the engine needs to work harder to propel the heavier vehicle.

Additionally, SUVs with higher ground clearance often have larger tires and more robust suspension systems, contributing to additional weight. 3.

Tire Size and Rolling Resistance

The size of the tires on an SUV can also impact fuel efficiency. Larger tires, often seen with higher ground clearance vehicles, can increase rolling resistance.

Rolling resistance refers to the friction between the tires and the road surface. Larger tires have a larger contact area with the road, resulting in higher rolling resistance and subsequently lower fuel efficiency.

4. EPA Fuel Economy Ratings

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States provides fuel economy ratings for vehicles.

These ratings are obtained through standardized testing methods to provide consumers with information about fuel efficiency. However, it’s important to note that the EPA ratings are based on average driving conditions and may not directly reflect real-world scenarios, including off-road driving or the impact of ground clearance on fuel economy.

Safety Concerns Associated with Low Ground Clearance in a Subaru Forester

While a higher ground clearance is generally advantageous for off-roading and handling rough terrains, it’s important to consider the safety concerns associated with lower ground clearance. In this section, we will discuss some safety concerns specific to the Subaru Forester with lower ground clearance.

1. Reduced Protection in Crashes

A lower ground clearance can result in reduced protection in certain crash scenarios.

Vehicles with higher ground clearance tend to have a more robust undercarriage design, providing better protection to vital components, such as the engine and fuel tank, in the event of a collision. A lower ground clearance can leave these components more vulnerable to damage.

2. Increased Risk of Bottoming Out

Driving a Subaru Forester with lower ground clearance can potentially increase the risk of the vehicle bottoming out.

Bottoming out occurs when the undercarriage of the vehicle comes into contact with the ground or an obstacle. This can result in damage to the undercarriage and suspension components, adversely affecting the vehicle’s handling and potentially leading to accidents.

3. Limited Off-Road Capabilities

Lower ground clearance could limit the off-road capabilities of a Subaru Forester.

In off-road situations with uneven terrain, rocks, or deep ruts, the vehicle may have difficulty navigating without the risk of scraping or getting stuck. Lower ground clearance can also reduce the approach, departure, and breakover angles, limiting the vehicle’s ability to climb obstacles and traverse steep inclines.

4. Reduced Visibility and Awareness

Driving a vehicle with lower ground clearance can affect the driver’s visibility and awareness of their surroundings.

Lower ground clearance may limit the driver’s view of potential obstacles, such as rocks, potholes, or other vehicles, particularly in rough or uneven terrains. This reduced visibility can increase the risk of accidents or collisions.

In conclusion, while a lower ground clearance can provide certain benefits, such as improved fuel efficiency, safety concerns must be adequately addressed, particularly in the context of off-roading. It’s essential to carefully evaluate the potential risks associated with lower ground clearance in a Subaru Forester and take necessary precautions to ensure safe and responsible driving.

Regular maintenance, cautious navigation of obstacles and rough terrain, and mindful consideration of the vehicle’s capabilities are vital for a safe and enjoyable driving experience.

Ground Clearance and Its Effects on Ride Comfort and Handling

Ground clearance is a key factor that affects not only off-road capabilities but also the ride comfort and handling of a vehicle. In this section, we will explore how ground clearance can impact the ride comfort and handling of an SUV, such as the Subaru Forester.

1. Ride Comfort

Ground clearance plays a role in determining the ride comfort of an SUV.

A higher ground clearance generally allows for better absorption of road imperfections, providing a smoother and more comfortable ride. With more space between the vehicle’s undercarriage and the road surface, there is less likelihood of the car hitting obstacles such as speed bumps or potholes.

On the other hand, a lower ground clearance may result in a stiffer and less forgiving ride. With less suspension travel and limited space, the vehicle may feel every bump and uneven road surface, leading to a harsher ride quality.

This can be especially noticeable when driving on rough terrains or poorly maintained roads. 2.


Ground clearance also influences the handling characteristics of an SUV. A higher ground clearance typically raises the vehicle’s center of gravity.

While this can improve stability in certain off-road situations, it may adversely affect handling dynamics on paved roads, particularly during sharp turns or abrupt lane changes. SUVs with higher ground clearance tend to exhibit more body roll and a slightly disconnected steering feel.

This can impact the overall agility and responsiveness of the vehicle, making it less nimble compared to lower ground clearance models. However, many modern SUVs, including the Subaru Forester, incorporate advanced suspension systems and electronic stability control to mitigate these handling challenges.

It’s important to note that manufacturers carefully tune the suspension and chassis components to strike a balance between ground clearance, ride comfort, and handling characteristics for each specific model. 3.

Factors Influencing Ride Comfort and Handling

While ground clearance plays a significant role in ride comfort and handling, other factors should also be considered:

– Suspension Systems: The design and tuning of the suspension system greatly impact ride comfort and handling. Factors such as spring rates, shock absorber characteristics, and anti-roll bars can significantly affect the vehicle’s behavior on different road surfaces.

– Wheelbase and Track Width: The length between the front and rear axles (wheelbase) as well as the width between the left and right wheels (track width) also influence ride comfort and handling. A longer wheelbase and wider track can enhance stability and reduce body roll.

– Tire Technology: The choice of tires and their specifications, such as sidewall stiffness and tread pattern, can greatly impact ride comfort and handling. Softer sidewalls and more aggressive tread patterns can enhance grip but may result in a slightly harsher ride.

Can Ground Clearance Issues Be Fixed by Insurance? Ground clearance issues, such as damage to the undercarriage or suspension components due to hitting an obstruction, are typically not covered by standard auto insurance policies.

Insurance coverage primarily focuses on accidents, theft, or damage resulting from specific covered events outlined in the policy. Ground clearance issues are often considered maintenance-related or a result of driver error.

However, it’s essential to review the specific terms and conditions of your auto insurance policy to understand the extent of coverage, including any coverage for off-road use or specific ground clearance incidents. It is recommended to reach out to your insurance provider if you have concerns about any potential coverage for ground clearance-related damage.

Additionally, some insurance companies offer specialized policies or add-ons that provide coverage for off-road or modified vehicles, including ground clearance-related issues. These policies may have specific terms, limitations, or requirements that need to be considered.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to prioritize preventive measures, such as careful navigation, proper maintenance, and regular inspections, to minimize the risk of ground clearance issues and potential damage to your vehicle’s undercarriage and suspension components. In summary, while auto insurance coverage may not typically extend to ground clearance issues, being knowledgeable about your policy and taking proactive steps to maintain your vehicle can go a long way in preventing and mitigating any potential issues.

Understanding the effects ground clearance has on ride comfort and handling in your chosen vehicle, such as the Subaru Forester, can help you make an informed decision and appreciate the balance between off-road capabilities and on-road comfort and performance.

Ground Clearance Modifications and Their Legality in Different States

Ground clearance modifications, such as lift kits and suspension upgrades, are popular among off-road enthusiasts looking to enhance their vehicle’s capabilities. However, it is essential to consider the legality of such modifications, as regulations regarding ground clearance modifications vary from state to state.

In this section, we will explore the legality of ground clearance modifications and the factors to consider in different states. 1.

Federal Laws and Regulations

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set safety regulations for vehicles operating on public roads. While the FMVSS does not specifically address ground clearance modifications, it does regulate certain aspects related to vehicle safety, such as lighting, brake systems, and tire requirements.

Any modifications that compromise these safety standards can render a vehicle non-compliant and potentially illegal for road use. 2.

State-Specific Laws and Regulations

In addition to federal regulations, each state has the authority to enact its own laws and regulations governing vehicle modifications, including ground clearance modifications. These state laws may vary, covering aspects such as maximum vehicle height, bumper height, fender coverage, and suspension modifications.

It’s crucial to research and understand the specific laws in your state to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal consequences. 3.

Maximum Vehicle Height

Many states have regulations regarding the maximum heig

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