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What are Crossover Cars?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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Crossover cars are vehicles that have the bodies of an SUV or minivan but are set on a car chassis. The benefit of this structure is that they offer an increase in interior space, especially for passengers. Crossover vehicles also have a smoother ride and better handling than other cars with the bodies of SUVs or trucks that are set on a heavier chassis.

One of the main advantages of this type of vehicle may be an increase in operational efficiency, translated as better gas mileage. This is because the chassis is not as heavy and therefore the car, also known as a CUV or XUV, does not have to carry unneeded additional weight. This operational efficiency is highly sought after, especially by those looking to get the best gas mileage they can with higher fuel prices.

While crossover cars are becoming increasingly popular because of the comfort and efficiency, they do have some drawbacks. Trucks and SUVs are often meant to go on road and off road. That is one reason why they have a heavier chassis, which is more durable. Crossover vehicles are not meant to go off road, at least not in a way that could be very rough on the vehicle. For those who have such cars, the rule of thumb is to not take it anywhere they would not take a normal-sized vehicle.

This style of car started coming of age in the US in 2007, when more than dozen models hit the market in the wake of record-high gas prices. The light truck market, which includes both pickups and SUVs, had been on a substantial decline for several years. The crossover vehicle was seen as the answer to Detroit's woes.

The combination of comfort and efficiency seems to be resonating well with drivers, at least in the United States. While SUVs were declining, sales of crossovers grew 16% in 2007. The trend could continue for years to come as more manufacturers start releasing models with more features and choices.

In fact, that diversification of the crossover vehicle has already started. Hybrid crossovers are already on the market, which makes the vehicles even more fuel efficient. Crossover hydrogen vehicles may make an appearance at local car dealerships as well. While the automobile market remains relatively volatile, its transition to a new type of vehicle may get a big boost with the acceptance of crossover cars.

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Discussion Comments

By anon352958 — On Oct 26, 2013

Just another inane trend in automobile land. The egregious SUV that became the automotive staple on American roads in the '90s festered to become a damning ingredient in more ways than one. Those ugly Suburbans, Escalades and Navigators peppered our roads, complete with the insolent jerks operating them. GM, Ford and Chrysler let their car lines stagnate, virtually deteriorate from updating and new designs, in favor of devoting more time to their SUV's. GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy because they didn't have the goods to offer people who wanted decent passenger cars.

The market for big ticket SUV's waned considerably, and the big three were way too smug thinking that silly Americans would keep wanting their big, bigger and biggest tecnho/luxo encrusted SUV's. (Remember the joke that Lincoln introduced as a pick up truck, the Blackwood!) Well, the bubble burst. Sales on those things plummeted. The Hummer died and the Excursion faded into oblivion, too. And since GM, Ford and Chrysler ignored their car lines what happened next? Bankruptcy. Except for Ford, which was on the cusp on bankruptcy. GM has been scratching and clawing to right their wrongs. If it hadn't been for Buick's huge popularity in China, that division would be dead too. Chrysler is still a joke and still has a bad reputation for quality and ghetto-grade automobiles.

Ford's once laureled Expedition is barely a blip on the screen; ditto tthe Navigator. The next wave of trendy foolishness on the automobile scene is the unlovely crossover. Here you've got two combinations of all the ugliness of a minivan and a SUV, all in one imbalanced ungainly vehicle. Crossovers offer poor visibility, a not-so-spacious interior and so-so fuel economy. Station wagons are the best bet in terms of style and function. They're still built and very popular in Europe and Asia, but the portly average American wants to putter around in their silly crossovers and SUV's.

BMW and Honda must laugh it up as they think of how dumb most Americans are for wanting those hideous crossovers. BMW builds their ugliest cars ever the X1, X3 and that hatchback GT thing. And Honda's Crosstour. BMW and Honda know these things are ugly, but silly Americans are snapping these things up. What do you expect from an American culture that still believes in god and "reality" TV shows! Dumb!

By highlighter — On Mar 31, 2011

@amphibious54- While I agree with you, I have seen a few cross over vehicles that just do not make much sense. There is a new crossover thing (for lack of a better word) from Honda and Acura that looks like a hatchback SUV crossed with a mid-size sports sedan. It is a bulky, fast vehicle with high ground clearance, but it is completely incapable of driving on terrain rougher than grass. It is as if the designers were trying to find a new niche without defining it.

BMW and Nissan have released similar vehicles that I find to be ugly and impractical. The industry is calling these new vehicles sports activity coupes (although they have four doors). I honestly just do not understand what type of driver they are trying to attract. They are overpowered, underweight and have a high center of gravity. They are definitely not something that sound fun to drive.

By Amphibious54 — On Mar 31, 2011

In my opinion, crossover SUVs are more practical for the average SUV driver. They blend size, safety, sportiness, and spaciousness into a package that is still profitable for car manufacturers. They are an option for taller drivers because you still have to step into them instead of squatting down into them. They are also not as suburban as a minivan; still being capable of maneuvering the occasional rocky road or toting the family on the weekend camping trip.

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