Hooniverse Asks: Do You Like Crossovers?

You know, names honestly don’t mean jack shit. I mean, for the past decade or so a number of car makers have been selling four door cars that they’ve called coupes. I know! The latest rage, and the one that’s been driving the final nails into the coffin of the traditional station wagon is the Crossover. That’s a tall wagon, or high-riding hatchback, depending on whom you ask. The thing of it is, while they are seemingly hugely popular, I don’t know that many people who actually like them.
Crossovers differ from their predecessors, the SUV, in being far more car-like, and in fact most often they are based on some FWD platform that had originally spawned a four-door sedan. They sit higher and have the benefit of a hatch, if you like such things, but are usually more top heavy and often have the handling of a barstool in a whirlpool. To be honest, I don’t find that appealing at all. Do you?
Image: Car and Driver

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40 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Do You Like Crossovers?”

  1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

  2. theskig Avatar


  3. ptschett Avatar

    They serve a purpose, but to me they’re a tall station wagon and I never much liked station wagons.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Before decent roads appeared every where after the 1920s/30s, all cars were crossovers.
      People today forget how capable off road early cars were, (and had to be.)
      This is a stock Model T as seen in http://www.hotrod.com/news/1604-watch-a-ford-model-t-shame-jeeps-with-its-suspension-flex/

  4. Maymar Avatar

    I’m not old and feeble, I don’t have knee injuries, despite living in Canada, I don’t need AWD (snow tires do just fine thank you, and actually help me stop), ive never found a car’s worth of ground clearance inadequate, should I ever need a three row monstrosity, it’s going to be a minivan, and if I’m going to drive something that’s kind of uncomfortable, it’s going to be because it’s fun to drive, not the stupid crossover head toss from being up higher.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    No, but I might end up buying one. The American mid-sized SUV is all but extinct. We will be looking for a replacement for our Trailblazer in a year. So far the Explorer is in the front running, and it is now more a cross over than a SUV. Toyota still has the 4runner, but they just seem overpriced and I’m not crazy about the latest styling. By the time you pay for AWD on a cross over to get decent

  6. Alff Avatar

    No. I have a car that handles like a barstool in a whirlpool … but at least it’s cool.

  7. kogashiwa Avatar

    Can’t say a crossover would ever be my first choice but as the the pretense of being a rugged off-road vehicle fades away I am starting to like them better, or rather dislike them less.
    You can think of it as essentially a return to the body and ride height of ’30s and ’40s cars, if it makes you feel any better about them.
    Some of them are starting to look pretty good, to me. Like the CX3. I’d still go for the 3 hatch every time though.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar


  9. Inliner Avatar

    I don’t like them, but I respect them as a sensible choice for the elderly, where ingress and egress is no doubt easier.

  10. Sjalabais Avatar

    I don’t get “the internet’s” active hate for SUVs and crossovers. They don’t really take the joy out of life. When I saw an offer for the Kia Niro earlier today, I realised I might be tempted considering it’s half of a proper station wagon. A big if, the if of ifs, because why buy a new car? But they offer the illusion of better space almost like a minivan. And they can drive on something as benign as a gravel road. There are some eco-ified common cars that are so close to the ground, gravel roads become fearsome rather than entertaining.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      For me, it’s a matter of proportionality. I like the Subaru Outback and Forester, but would prefer the chance to buy something different. The crossover is squeezing out cars I would actually buy because herd mentality has dictated that CUVs are just the best for everyone all the time, when they’re mostly just compromised and bleh.
      If, say, every one in ten or twenty cars sold was a crossover, I wouldn’t care, but when we’re hovering around 1 in 2, it means it’s hard for manufacturers to make a case for spending development dollars on something i might buy.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        I get that, but I also believe in competition and business cycles. The CUV craze is not going to last forever. In addition, it spurns a couple of manufacturers to make some really nice classic designs, cue the Volvo S/V90 for example. It replaces the V70, a pretty different concept of a wagon. I’m sure that people will vote with their money, and there are a lot of positive reasons for why Subaru is doing so well. Outback and Forester, if bloated, are still pretty conservative, lifted wagons.

      2. crank_case Avatar

        This is it exactly, they’re even outselling small hatchbacks which have traditionally been the best selling thing in many European countries due to being just brilliantly useful. The problem is because not only do crossovers sell well, with higher percieved prestige, probably have a bigger profit margin, so the resources and development and desirable options may get funneled more to the crossover than the hatcbacks. For example a 2WD Mazda CX3, is around €5k more than a Mazda 2 despite but it’s not really any more useful in the real world. Annoyingly, the CX3 gets a torqueir 120ps 2.0 petrol vs the 2s 75-90ps 1.5, but you get the impression that’s deliberate marketing positioning so that sensible people don’t think, hey, lets just have an up-spec 2, you can’t even have the 2.0 as an option in the 2. I kinda wonder if things were like they were back in the 80s, where hot hatches were the status symbol, mazda would have put its engineering resources into a Fiesta ST baiting hot 2 rather than a jacked up tonka version.
        That’s sort of how it was in Europe with hatches back then, take the archetypal 80s euro market hatch, no, not the Golf, the Peugeot 205. You’d have a peasant spec 1.1 litre version with pea shooter exhaust that was appealing in its honest simplicity and still kinda fun, a hot GTI version at the top of the tree, a “warm” one (e.g. the XS) for the kids who wanted a GTI but couldn’t afford the insurance premiums, posh one for wealthy wives whose husbands probably drove a Saab 900, 3 series or merc W123, who wanted something chic and convenient to go to the tennis/golf club (the Roland Garros trim) in which had some GTI niceties like a larger engine (but detuned), stereo, alloys, nice interior but will all the GTI lairyness dialled out, maybe an autobox. A similarly appointed Cabrio, a GTI cabrio and then for the die hard nutters who felt that soundproofing was for the weak, a Rallye version, which would be to GTI as Porsche GT3 is to Turbo. Every hatch would have at least one hot version and like I said, there’s still plenty around, but I don’t think you have that same range of variants to all people like the 80s heyday, I think crossovers are eating into that. Hell in the states, the CX3 had pushed out the 2 altogether.
        I find myself thinking about what will replace our previous gen 2 eventually and as it’s really my wifes car, (with me not needing a grown ups car at all so I can just muck about with a rusty mx5s, which is progressing…slowly), it will be centred around her wants, so it will probably have an autobox next time, she likes comfort and refinement, but she doesn’t want length for maneuverability reasons, so even I start eyeing up things like the Niro.
        This is going to sound silly and hard to explain to US folks, but there’s something I find a little sad socially about the shift in Europe from hatches to CUVs. You see hatches, especially in their heyday (and I’m counting the original mini here in the, even though it didn’t have a hatch because it set the transverse enging, cheeky and appealing template for how europeans approached building cars for the masses for decades) were what’d describe as “classless”. No I don’t mean they lacked class in the equivalent of a trailer trash camaro sense, but rather, in a class obsessed continent, they said nothing about your social class. A 205 or Golf could have been transport for a peasant farmer, or a middle class solicitor or a factory lad from the council estate, or indeed a runaround for landed gentry from an entirely different sort of “estate”. You just never knew, but because these cars had that simple chic about them they could slide seamlessly through the social fabric. At their best, they just had that air comfortable in their own skin confidence and good taste to fit in anywhere.
        CUVs by contrast seem desperately aspirational, there’s something sort of “social climber” about them to show the neighbors you’re moving up in the world with your wannabe range rover thing, it is literally a jumped up hatch. At this point, those of you still reading this will point out, “ah, but jumped up off road hatchback things are not new to europe!, what about the Panda 4×4 or the Golf Synchro?” ..and again those things show the change in thinking. Those things were built to achknowledge that you lived in a ski resort in Austria or some remote Italian town near the alps and occiasionaly it got a bit tricky going up hills, so you needed a basic car with some functionality. They’re the reverse mirror opposite of the modern CUVs, they offered real function. The Pandas 4x4s running was (and still is in the new versions I believe) built by steyr-puch, yeah those folks that made hallingers and pinzgauer light military vehicles that make humvees seem lacking in axle articulation.
        They have the looks of a hatch, but most the functionality of Land Rover. The modern CUV by contrast tries to look tough, but usually ends up being sold as a 2WD variant, so it’s all about perception and lifestyle nonsense over usefulness. Their real ancestor is not the Panda 4×4 but rather the forgotten Matra Rancho. What’s old is new again.

        1. Maymar Avatar

          My major gripe with the CX3 is that it’s more expensive and more cramped than the Mazda3, and it doesn’t drive as well as the 2 (granted, as much as I daily a 2, I’m sure my barometer was thrown off by driving a CX3 on a tight cone course immediately after driving a series of Miatas).

        2. Vairship Avatar

          I would *so* pick a Matra Simca Rancho over any current-day CUV…

    2. Guest Avatar

      Thank you for bringing up gravel roads, as I think that is one area where CUVs do make sense.

      You see, I live on a farm, and currently my family of five has six vehicles, a 1990 Taurus SHO (mine), a 1991 Toyota Pickup (2wd, sister’s), a 1995 Jeep YJ (father’s fun vehicle), a 200 GMC Sierra 2500 (4×4 farm truck), a 2006 Honda Odyssey (previous family vehicle, not really worth selling), and a 2010 Mazda CX-9 (current family vehicle).

      All of these vehicles regularly drive on gravel, and through Canadian winters, and while all of them manage without getting stuck, it is the Mazda that truly excels at it.

      That extra inch or two of road clearance makes it that much quieter on the gravel, as less is thrown up a the undercarriage, with the added effect of saving it from the continuous sandblasting the van has endured. It is this continuous sandblasting that has made the van virtually unsellable, as the whole undercarriage is seriously beat up.

      Combine this with the added benefits of better road handling than the dedicated 4×4’s, and it becomes clear that these are the perfect vehicles for those living in rural areas.

      TL;DR I still don’t get why urbanites by them, but I do see one role for them.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Yes, it’s very hard to ignore the urbanites issue. Yet I am a bit surprised the Toyota, Jeep and GMC are that much left in the dust by the Mazda? The 2010 model is without doubt the most sophisticated one, but shouldn’t the others do very well on gravel, too? I assume there’s no salting happening here – otherwise that undercarriage would be in very serious trouble. A bit like my poor Honda (=> reference).
        Anyway, I am a huge fan, if not particularly competent at it, of throwing gravel by force of traction – both forward and sideways. That wouldn’t be possible with any of the DRIVe-Volvos that are superpopular in Norway, as they hug the tarmac like a sports car. Lots of other new cars are very much troubled by “washing board” tractor tracks or just the common gravel potholes that almost every car from the 90s masters with a shrug.

        1. Guest Avatar

          It’s not just the modernness of the Mazda that makes it better on-road, although it does play a big role. The Toyota, Jeep, and GMC are all body on frame, and are RWD most of the time (all of the time for the Toyota), so you have to be careful on loose gravel and ice.

          Like you said, throwing gravel and sliding can be a lot of fun, but only when controlled. It is a bit scary for when a big vehicle like the GMC starts to fishtail on you, and I’m guessing it would be positively terrifying if something as short as the Jeep did something like that, as it wouldn’t take much for it to start spinning 360.

          It’s really not that big of a concern, as the driver just needs to just be aware of the characteristics of the vehicle, and drive a bit more carefully.

          It’s just that a lot less care is needed when driving the Mazda, which, as all Hoons know, is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s safer, but a lot less fun, and you never really learn how to handle a sliding vehicle with it.

  11. Kiefmo Avatar

    I’m generally only in favor of the manifestation of crossover that is the AWD wagon with a lift kit.
    The Subie Outback, Audi Allroad, Volvo XC70 — basically, anything that hearkens back to the AMC Eagle.
    Of course, for preference and maximum utility, I’d much prefer that which has been mostly not available Stateside — the 4WD

  12. marmer Avatar

    Yes. Love them. You can fit an upright bass inside without driving a truck. Now, if I could still get a proper car-based wagon at a reasonable price (which eliminates the new Outback, the Allroad, and the Volvo V70) I would do that instead. My wife just traded in her decrepit Chrysler minivan on a Nissan Rogue.

  13. mad_science Avatar

    I’ve gotten over my nerd rage hatred of crossovers…mostly by giving up. They’re what lots of people who buy new cars want, so who am I to think otherwise.
    There’s also something to be said for CUVs moving to more dedicated platforms. For a while there, they were more obviously “an Accord with a truck body on it”. The current gen look more like they were designed to be big cars the size they are; less of this “look like a truck, but ride like a car” nonsense.
    Besides, I can’t argue with the likes of an X5 or X6 M.

    1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

      I can! They’re the reason we don’t get an M3 or M5 Touring (well, a microcosm of the larger problem anyway).

      1. mad_science Avatar

        If BMW can offer every possible permutation of 3 and 4 series coupe, sedan and “GT”, but chooses not to sell the proper wagon it’s because there just aren’t enough customers for it.
        The Venn diagram of “People who spend $60k on a BMW” and “People who want sporty wagons” is basically two separate circles.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          But…why? Just wait til the commentariat grows up to spend 60k on a new car.

        2. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

          Agreed, but my point was that if the concept of the crossover had never crept into the collective human consciousness, the people who buy X5Ms would be Touring customers instead, thus solving the demand issue.

          1. crank_case Avatar

            There was a time when the respectable european middle classes drove three row Merc 300TE, Volvo 700/900 series wagon, Peugeot 504 Estate, or possibly an E34 touring if they didn’t mind being seen as a little nouveau riche. Only mercedes has really persisted with a consistent bloodline of any of these cars. Peugeots made some odd left turns with an half wagon/mpv thing, and arguably the MPV kinda killed these off before the CUV had a chance, then a rebadged mitsubishi outlander. Volvos making a big wagon again, so maybe there’s hope.

  14. AnamDuine Avatar

    Some of them, yes. We are actually looking for a Subaru Forester because it ticks all the boxes for the wife; all wheel drive, capable of towing a pop-up camper, drives like a car instead of like an SUV, and decent gas mileage. Also, she doesn’t like the look of the Volvo XC70. She has poor taste in looks, which is probably how she ended up with me.

  15. Krautwursten Avatar

    If my car was as horrible to see out of as most modern cars are, I’d want to sit higher for better visibility, too. It’s almost become a necessity.

  16. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I have no love for these things that attempt to provide the virtues of a station wagon or minivan to those whose egos prevent them from buying a minivan or wagon because their parents drove them.

    1. Ayreonaut Avatar


    2. LeaksOil Avatar

      I own a minivan and love it ,…I also daily drive a ’08 Forester because it was the wife’s daily before we got the minivan,…we initially got it because AWD, quality/reliable wagon that drives well on back roads ,…

  17. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
    Simon BiTurbo

    Nope, but not because the concept is flawed. Merely the execution.
    At it’s most basic, a Crossover is a standard car that has been lifted to give it (usually somewhat dubious) offroad/utility credentials.
    The problem is, they’re all crap at it. A marginal increase in ride height is not good enough.
    This is what peak crossover should be (pic below).
    Give me a truly offroad capable sports car/sporty car that can be ragged as hard offroad as it can on road and I’ll be happy that crossovers have been done properly.
    Think someone who wants to take their kids to school and do the shopping in their Ariel Nomad.

  18. Citric Avatar

    Not for me, but I suppose they’re handy for old people and those with small children. Sort of like diapers.

  19. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    Yes, but only the ones that predate myself.

  20. MattC Avatar

    Yes, with a caveat.. I had the previous gen Rav4 and my wife has a similar vintage Cr-V. At the time, we were both essential employees and required to work regardless of weather. My Rav4 would easily exceed over 30mpg on the highway and comfortable plus it was an absolute mountain goat in bad weather. My wife’s CR-V was equally capable plus the added benefit of fitting a small family for road trips.
    They are not sports car (with the exception to Mazda, Bravo to their engineers) but completely practical vehicles. Plus if we want car manufacturers to see more sports cars, then we NEED them to sell these.

  21. Chad Geidel Avatar
    Chad Geidel

    I’d love a Juke for my commute actually. Turbo, CVT, AWD, perfect for my daily US-36 commute. I guess I’ll just have to “settle” with my R56S…

  22. salguod Avatar

    The small ones, yes. They are marginally more versatile than a small hatch and much more than a sedan with a slight penalty in economy.
    Large ones, not as much. A minivan is better at almost everything. If you really need off road chops or towing a traditional SUV is better.

  23. Ian Wright Avatar
    Ian Wright

    Having never really driven one I didn’t think so. My wife has been wanting one for a while and I wasn’t crazy about the idea – I drive the main car a fair bit and we had an Accord Coupe that was fun to drive. That had to go in the end and in came a brand new Honda CRV. My main car went down and has been at my mechanics for a few weeks so i’ve been driving the CRV quite a bit.
    I don’t hate it. It’s fine.
    It’s not as nice as our old Range Rover but this is not exactly something you cross shop with a 15 year old Range Rover. I’ve grown to like the CRV, but i certainly wouldn’t appreciate it as the only car. I wrote a whole bit on it, but I feel like it would be bad form to link it. Here’s a TL;DR:
    – I live in a very bumpy city with cross road drainage and you have to still be vigilant with normal ride height. CRV makes life easy.
    – Boy racers in crappy little Civics don’t try and race it, so it’s quite relaxing to drive.
    – You can’t drive it fast and there are cup holders. Driving while coffee is relaxing.
    – It’s not slow for joining highways via slip roads.
    – That high driving position is undeniably good for looking ahead in traffic, but the high centre of gravity is not a safety feature.
    – Overall, it’s good for traffic driving.
    – A drum kit just fits right in back and loading height is great.

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