Though the term crossover is relatively new to the automotive lexicon, crossovers have become the most popular new vehicle on sale today. Automakers can’t build these wannabe SUV Mini-Mes fast enough to keep up with market demand, so they have introduced new crossovers into their lineups nearly every single year since 2002.
As crossovers have exploded in popularity, SUVs have moved out of the headline positions and slid into supporting roles, though the two are becoming ever more entangled in their size, space, and capabilities as the years progress. To understand what the differences are between crossovers and SUVs, as well as how those differences are changing, Car Autance’ loquacious editors are here to drop some knowledge on you.
Let’s get after it.
What Is a Crossover?
A crossover utility vehicle, or compact utility vehicle (CUV), is a type of utility vehicle with an appearance similar to an SUV that uses a car chassis as its underpinning. Crossovers, however, have become more SUV-like in recent years.
What Is an SUV?
An SUV is a utility vehicle that, traditionally, used a truck chassis as its underpinning. That has changed in recent years.
What Was the Difference Between Crossovers and SUVs Upon Release?
A lot, actually. In the before times, when crossovers weren’t the ubiquitous vehicles they are today, SUVs were defined by their truck-based ladder frames and rugged off-road abilities. Crossovers, at their start, were these small, slightly lifted, boxy things that vaguely resembled SUVs but used car chassis. They were not designed to be off-roaded, nor used in a similar manner as traditional SUVs, as they weren’t built to such standards.
The distinction between crossovers and SUVs continued in that fashion until very recently.
What Are the Differences Between Crossovers and SUVs Now?
Almost nothing, apart from a few stragglers. SUVs such as the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, and very few others still used ladder-frame construction, but almost every other SUV on sale today now makes use of a global modular platform that has car chassis DNA.
Sorry to burst your bubble, SUV purists.
Car Autance’s Glossary for Crossovers and SUVs
Welcome to Autance School!
GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating and refers to how much weight a vehicle can be loaded with, in addition to its gross weight, before parts fail.
Tow rating refers to the amount of weight a vehicle can tow before parts begin to fail.
Payload rating refers to the amount of weight a vehicle can put into its trunk or bed before parts begin to fail.
The chassis is the car’s structural skeleton. This forms the crash structure that keeps you safe in the event of an accident.
A low-range gearbox is a type of gearbox that works in conjunction with your standard gearbox and allows a crossover or SUV to traverse difficult or slippery terrain with ease.
Your Questions, Our Answers on Crossovers and SUVs
Car Autance answers all your burning questions!
Q. Are Crossovers Safer Than SUVs?
A. Somewhat. Due to their lower ride heights and integrated crash structures that car or global modular chassis offer, crossovers tend to be safer than SUVs. They aren’t, however, tanks, so don’t drive them like they are. However, old-school off-road-capable SUVs might be more capable and safer in off-pavement situations.
Q. What’s the Most Reliable Crossover?
A. The one you take care of.
Q. Why Are Crossovers So Popular?
A. People like the idea and high-riding perks of an SUV but don’t want the poor fuel economy, larger bill, or bigger footprint. So they buy crossovers.
Video on Crossovers and SUVs
Car Autance’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly the difference between crossovers and SUVs. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
Car Autance’s Favorite Crossover and SUV Related Products
You can buy tools to help your crossover or SUV adventure at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. Let us do the work by offering up a handful of our favorite crossover and SUV tires.
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