The Offspring of Cars and SUVs: What Exactly Is a Crossover Vehicle?

What Is A Crossover Vehicle?

You’ve likely heard the term crossover thrown around a lot in recent years as their popularity has spiked in the past decade. For many people, a crossover conjures the image of SUVs, for others something more similar to a modernized station wagon. Crossovers are also referred to as crossover SUVs, further confusing the matter. Sometimes they are called a CUV for “crossover utility vehicle.” So, what exactly is a crossover?

What Is a Crossover Car

Crossover vehicles are constructed with the unibody style, and like SUVs, are also a sport utility vehicle typically made for carrying luggage, sports equipment, groceries, families, pets, and so forth. Don’t think of a crossover as just a “grocery getter,” though. These indeed mix or at least draw from, the best aspects of cars and SUVs.

While SUVs can be expensive in their gas mileage, a CUV will generally be much better. Where cars can be lacking in space or taken over by large vehicles on the road surrounding them, a crossover provides a little more space and a notably better view of the highway.

Benefits of Buying a Crossover

The compact size of these vehicles can be ideal even for single, active people with outdoorsy hobbies. Crossovers are also excellent for those who live alone but have pets they like to take with them out and about, older individuals who find it easier to get in and out of a higher-sitting vehicle, or SUV lovers who care about fuel economy.

Some of the new crossovers have fantastic safety ratings, making them reassure for parents of teenagers. Crossovers are exceptional for small families, as they have enough room but are compact enough to zip around a city with ease. Another bonus: crossovers are often cheaper to insure than sedans and sports cars.

The Difference Between SUVs and Crossovers

So, why precisely are some vehicles called SUVs and some called crossovers? The main component in differentiating these two are their platforms. A crossover may look like an SUV but is based on a car’s platform.

Generally, SUVs utilize the chassis you would find in a truck. This chassis and platform can give SUVs more towing power than a crossover and often more horsepower depending on the model. Many SUVs are built to handle off-road conditions (with the right options), where crossovers are not.

Crossovers also are designed with a unibody build, which is a vehicle with a single piece body and frame. SUVs are constructed with what is known as a “body on frame“ type of design. So, the body of an SUV is built separately from its general structure.

Still Confused?

Marketing has made the terminology a bit muddled in recent years, so if you have trouble differentiating the two, you’re not alone. In the past, SUVs had a negative connotation of terrible fuel economy and overly large sizes.

Some companies started to refer to SUVs as “SUV crossovers” while some crossovers are marketed to be a bit heftier and tougher. For example, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a unibody construction but is often touted as an SUV because of Jeep’s rugged, off-road branding.

Some of the Best/Most Popular Crossovers

Unless you plan to drive on rugged terrain or expect to tow heavy loads, a crossover could be more suited to your needs. A vast array of crossovers fill the market now, from affordable models for those on a budget up to luxury vehicle crossover. Among the top 10 most popular or best consumer-rated crossover models for 2019 are:

·        The new BMW X4, which retails from $51,000 to $61,000 and gets 25 miles per gallon combined. This is a sleek, lower-profile crossover for those who like a bit of luxury in their car.

·        The 2019 Jaguar I-PACE, a CUV that nearly resembles a car with an ultra-modern vibe. The I-PACE gets 76 MPGe and is priced around $70,000 to $86,000—for those who want a premium crossover.

·        This year’s GMC Terrain is highly affordable, starting around $25,000 but going up to $41,000 with options. The Terrain also gets decent fuel economy for a CUV, with 28 mpg combined.

·        The 2019 Volvo XC60 is an ideal family vehicle with a slightly more wagon type of styling. The XC60 gets 22 miles per gallon combined and retails between $40,000 and $60,000 depending on options.

·        Cadillac’s 2019 XT4. The XT4 has a distinctive Cadillac appearance, is roomy, and gets 26 mpg combined. This CUV is priced around $35,000 to $43,000 depending on trims and features.

·        The new BMW X6 M. This CUV is excellent for people who want the space and utility of a crossover, but the sportier look of a sedan. While the body still can be identified as a CUV, it is much closer to a car styling than many CUVs. The X6 M is pure luxury, starting at roughly $106,000 to $107,000.

·        The Honda CRV is among the most popular crossovers on the road, and for a good reason. The CRV is generally reliable and is priced starting around $25,000 and up, depending on features.

·        The 2019 Volkswagon Tiguan has a lower body profile, is family friendly, and affordable. The Tiguan is priced around $25,000 to start, going up to $40,000 with options.

·        Audi’s new Q5, which is well-rated, sporty yet sleek, and starts at $43,000. The 2019 Q5 gets 24 miles per gallon combined.

·        The 2019 Volvo XC40 is one of the highest-rated crossovers on the market this year. Starting at $34,000 it is a reasonably-priced CUV and has plenty of safety features along with modern, rugged styling.

Clearly, crossovers have started to dominate the market, with affordable models mixing with luxury, higher-end car makers. Buying a brand new CUV may cost a bit more than a cheap, compact hatchback in some cases, but plenty of new and used crossover models are priced quite reasonably. Be sure to check a CUVs vehicle history report if you can when deciding to purchase a used model.

Average Cost of Crossovers

New car prices vary significantly with any body style, and CUVs are no exception. On the lower end, there are options such as the Kia Sorrento, the Nissan Rogue, the Ford Escape, the Toyota Rav-4, and Chevrolet Equinox.

On the high end, you have options such as the Maserati Levante Trofeo, a variety of Mercedes-Benz crossovers, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio—some of which start well over $100,000.

The average cost of a crossover is around $40,000 to $50,000 with some models swinging much higher or lower. The price of leasing a CUV also depends significantly on the make, model, and your location, but the average cost of a crossover lease can run you roughly $250 to $400 a month.

So, Why Pick a Crossover

There is a reason CUVs are taking up a large portion of the vehicle market these days. Crossovers offer more upright riding, better visibility of the road than many low, sportier cars, and several models provide a roomier interior than a car. You also get the benefit of generally better fuel economy than can be had with SUVs or trucks. Hence, the term crossover—the blending of the best of both worlds.

Another benefit is that many CUV models offer features such as all-wheel drive (AWD) for those who live with wintery conditions for a large part of the year. Crossovers are fantastic for those who want safety, a higher vehicle, space with a compact body design, and decent fuel economy.