SUVs have exploded in popularity during the last few years. Once marketed purely at outdoor enthusiasts, the SUV has now pivoted to target the luxury market and provide more space for families than the traditional sedan. As such, drivers looking for a used vehicle often set their sights on an SUV.
However, you might want to consider a wagon instead. They aren't quite as popular as SUVs, but they come with a whole host of benefits.
Extensive cargo space
Space is one of the main selling points of the SUV segment. However, you'll generally find that wagons have even more cargo space, especially when all seats are filled. Additionally, that space is usually a lot more usable. Compared to a sedan, SUVs are a lot taller but not so much longer; in contrast, the wagon is usually longer but not taller. This is important when it comes to cargo space since it means that there's generally a greater amount of floor area in the cargo compartment of a wagon, and you should find it easier to slip in longer items, such as skis. It's rare that you'll need extra height in the cargo area. Furthermore, the elevated height of an SUV can make it quite hard to load heavier items.
Performance and efficiency
SUVs aren't exactly known for being aerodynamic, and they are more top-heavy than sedans, hatchbacks, or wagons. As a result, it often feels quite odd to drive one, especially when you have to navigate tight city streets. A wagon will feel just like a regular sedan when you're behind the wheel. Perhaps more importantly, a wagon will feel more like a sedan when you reach the gas station. They add very little weight, so fuel efficiency stays strong. SUVs are notoriously poor in this regard; modern models are getting better, but you're unlikely to benefit from the latest engineering when you're shopping used.
Greater risk of repairs
Perhaps the main reason why you shouldn't buy an SUV is that you probably don't really need one. Okay, if you like heading off-road or towing large trailers, an SUV is going to look pretty appealing. However, most people buy them for the way they look instead of for that capability. The problem is that being able to head into the backcountry means carrying plenty of specialised equipment. An SUV is likely to utilize a complex suspension system and a four- or all-wheel drive system. With more complication systems, repairs are more likely to be necessary.