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Crossover (automobile)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ford Flex full-size crossover
Honda Pilot mid-size crossover
Ford Escape/Kuga compact crossover
Hyundai Kona subcompact crossover

A crossover, crossover SUV,[1] or crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is a type of sport utility vehicle-like vehicle built with unibody frame construction. A term that originated from North America, crossovers are based on a platform shared with a passenger car, as opposed to a platform shared with a pickup truck. Because of that, crossovers may also be referred as "car-based SUVs".[2][3] Compared to truck-based SUVs, they typically have better interior comfort, a more comfortable ride, better fuel economy, and lower manufacturing costs, but also inferior off-road and towing capability.[4][5][6] Forerunners of the modern crossover include the 1977 Matra Rancho and the AMC Eagle introduced in 1979.[7]

Many crossovers lack all-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive drivetrain, which, in combination with their lesser off-road capability, causes many journalists and consumers to question their definition as "sports utility vehicles". This has led some to describe crossovers as pseudo-SUVs.[8][9][10] Furthermore, there are inconsistencies about whether some vehicles are considered crossovers or SUVs; therefore, the term "SUV" is often used as a catch-all for both crossovers and compact SUVs.[11]

Some regions outside North America do not have a distinction between a crossover SUV and body-on-frame SUV, calling both of them SUVs. Several governmental bodies in the United States also did not acknowledge the crossover distinction, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[12] Crossovers are sometimes also classified as light trucks in some jurisdictions.

In the United States as of 2006, crossover models comprised more than 50% of the overall SUV market.[13] Crossovers have become increasingly popular in Europe also since the early 2010s.


The difference between crossover SUVs and other SUVs is generally defined by journalists and manufacturers as a crossover being built using a unibody platform (the type used by most passenger cars), while an SUV is built using a body-on-frame platform (the type used by off-road vehicles and pickup trucks).[14][15][16][17] However, these definitions are often blurred in practice, since unibody vehicles are also often[quantify] referred to as SUVs.[18][19] "Crossover" is a relatively recent term, and early unibody SUVs (such as the 1984 Jeep Cherokee) are rarely called crossovers. Due to these inconsistencies, the term "SUV" is often used as an umbrella term for both crossovers and SUVs.[20][5][21]

Outside of the United States, the term "crossover" tends to be used for C-segment (compact) or smaller vehicles, with large unibody vehicles—such as the Audi Q7, Range Rover, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg—usually referred to as SUVs rather than crossovers.[citation needed] In the United Kingdom, a crossover is sometimes defined as a hatchback with raised ride height and SUV-like styling features.[22][23]


Introduced in 1979, the AMC Eagle is retroactively considered to be the first dedicated crossover automobile that made its debut prior to the terms "SUV" or "crossover" being coined.[24][25][26][27] The mass-market Eagle model line was based on a unibody passenger car platform, with fully automatic four-wheel drive and a raised ride height.[28][29][30][31][32]

Though it is not part of the modern linear evolution, and only fifteen were built, some stretch the definition and history of the "crossover" to regard the off-road racing 1936 Opel Geländesportwagen as the first of the class.[33]

A writer for Motor Trend characterized Studebaker's 1963 Wagonaire as the "first crossover" because the innovative station wagon with a sliding roof "mashed up various vehicle types."[34] It was available only in conventional rear-wheel drive.

Some cite the front-wheel drive 1977 Matra Rancho as a slightly earlier forerunner to the modern crossover.[35] Marketed as a "lifestyle" vehicle, it was not available with four-wheel drive.[36] In 1981, American Motors Corporation (AMC) introduced four-wheel drive subcompact models built on the two-door AMC Spirit, the "Eagle SX/4" and "Eagle Kammback."[37][38] These two 166.6 in (4,232 mm) long, low-priced models joined the compact-sized AMC Eagle line and they predicted the market segment of comfortable cars with utility and foul-weather capabilities.[37][39]

In North America, crossovers increased in popularity during the 2000s, when fuel efficiency standards for light trucks, which had been stuck at 20.7 miles per US gallon (11.4 L/100 km; 8.8 km/l) since 1996, moved upwards by 2005. With increasing fuel prices, traditional SUVs began to lose market share to crossovers.[40]

The Volkswagen Golf Country, a conversion by Steyr-Daimler-Puch was sold during 1990 and 1991.[41] The Golf Country was a lifted version of the Golf Mk2 with part-time four-wheel drive and off-road exterior cladding. A total of 7,735 units were produced.[42]

The first-generation Toyota RAV4 released in 1994 has been credited as the model that expanded the concept of the crossover market segment.[43] Essentially a shrunken SUV, the RAV4 was based on a modified platform used by the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Carina.[6]

Size categories

Depending on the market, crossovers are divided into several size categories. Since there is an absence of any official distinction, often times the size category might be ambiguous for some crossover models. Several aspects needed to determine the size category of a vehicle may include length/width dimensions, positioning in its respective brand line-up, platform, and interior space.

Subcompact crossover SUV (B-segment)

Subcompact crossover SUVs (also called B-segment crossover SUV, B-SUV,[44] small SUV[45]) are crossovers that depending on the market and the manufacturer, typically have a length dimension under 4,400 mm (173.2 in).[46][47] Subcompact crossovers are usually based on the platform of a subcompact (also known as supermini or B-segment) passenger car,[48][49][50] although some high-end subcompact crossover models may be based on a compact car (C-segment).[51] They typically have limited off-road capabilities, although some subcompact crossovers offer all-wheel-drive.[52]

The segment may be called differently depending on the market. In several regions, the category may be known as "compact crossover" or "compact SUV",[53] not to be confused with the North American definition of a compact crossover SUV, which is a larger C-segment crossover SUV. In India, subcompact crossovers with a length dimension below 4 m (157.5 in) may be called "compact SUV",[54][55][56] and the larger ones are usually referred as "mid-size SUV".[57][58]

The first-generation Honda HR-V was released in 1998 mainly for the Japanese and European markets.[59] Its length stood between 4,000–4,110 mm (157.5–161.8 in), sold with either 3-doors and 5-doors, and was offered with an all-wheel-drive option.

According to IHS Markit, European sales of the segment between 2010 and 2016 rose from 134,000 units to 1.13 million units.[60] The emergence of the Nissan Juke in 2010 was argued to had helped define and start the development of the hitherto almost non-existent B-segment crossover segment. The firm added that vehicles from this segment were considered by customers as cheap to buy and run, offer a desirable lifestyle styling and higher seating position.[60] Other advantages may also include higher ground clearance, convenient ingress/egress, larger headroom, and larger legroom space compared to B-segment/subcompact hatchbacks.[61]

As the result of the increasing popularity of the segment, from mid-2010s, manufacturers began to phase out subcompact hatchbacks and sedans in favor of this segment in several markets since it offers higher profit margins, particularly in North America.[62][63] In Europe, several manufacturers have introduced subcompact crossovers to replace mini MPVs in Europe due to the dwindling sales, and that it offers the similar benefits to mini MPVs regarding interior comfort.[64][65] The examples are the Citroën C3 Aircross which replaced the Citroën C3 Picasso and Opel Crossland X replacing the Opel Meriva.[66][67]

Also common for this segment is that one brand may offer more than one model at different price points and segmentation. For example, Ford offers both the EcoSport and Puma in Europe, while Opel sells the Crossland and Mokka side-by-side.[68]

This category is particularly popular in Europe, India, and Brazil where they count for 37 percent, 75 percent, and 69 percent of total SUV sales in 2018 respectively. In the United States, it accounted for 7 percent of total SUV sales in 2018.[47] The best-selling vehicle is the segment in 2019 was the Honda HR-V, recording 622,154 units being sold worldwide.[69]

Compact crossover SUV (C-segment)

Compact crossover SUVs (also called C-segment SUV[70] or C-SUV[71]) are usually based on the platform of a compact car (C-segment), while some models may be based on a mid-size car (D-segment) or a B-segment platform. It typically has a length dimension between 4,300 mm (169.3 in) and 4,700 mm (185.0 in).[72][46][73][74] Most compact crossovers have two-row seating, while some of others have three rows.[75]

The naming of the segment may differ depending on the market. In several regions outside North America, the category may be known as "mid-size crossover" or "mid-size SUV",[73][76] not to be confused with the North American definition of a mid-size crossover SUV, which is a larger D-segment crossover SUV.

The first compact crossover was the 1980 AMC Eagle that was based on the compact-sized Concord line. Its four-wheel drive system was an almost unheard-of feature on regular passenger cars at the time and it came with full-time all-wheel drive, automatic transmission, power steering, power front disk brakes standard as well as numerous convenience and comfort options.[77] Later models included the 1994 Toyota RAV4,[43] 1995 Honda CR-V, 1997 Subaru Forester, 2000 Nissan X-Trail, 2000 Mazda Tribute, and the 2001 Ford Escape.

Between 2005 and 2010, the market share of compact crossovers in the US has increased from 6 percent to 11.2 percent.[78] In 2014, for the first time ever, sales of compact crossovers have outpaced mid-size sedans in the United States.[79]

In 2019, it was stated by American magazine Car and Driver that "so many of these vehicles are crowding the marketplace, simply sorting through them can be a daunting task".[80] Due to its popularity and to cater customer needs, many manufacturers offer more than one compact crossover, usually offering them in slightly different sizes at different price points.

By late 2010s, the segment has emerged as the most popular segment in several regions. For example, nearly 1 in every 4 cars sold in the United States in 2019 is a compact crossover, precisely at about 24.2 percent.[81] It also makes up 5.6 percent of the total European car market.[82]

The best-selling vehicle in the segment in 2019 was the Toyota RAV4, with 961,918 units sold globally.[69]

Mid-size crossover SUV (D/E-segment)

Mid-size crossover SUVs are usually based on the platform of a mid-size (also known as D-segment) passenger car. The first mid-size crossover was the 1999 BMW X5. Some mid-size crossovers have a three-row of seats, while others have two rows, which led to several brands offering multiple models to cater both sub-segments. It typically has a length dimension between 4,700 mm (185.0 in) and 5,100 mm (200.8 in).[46][83] In Australia, American mid-sized crossovers are classified as large SUVs[citation needed].

The segment is most popular in North America and China, where larger vehicles are preferred. It makes up 15.8 percent of the total United States car market.[84] In Europe, the segment covers 2.1 percent of the total market in 2019 with luxury crossover SUVs dominating most of the share.[85]

The Toyota Highlander/Kluger is the best-selling vehicle in the category in 2018, with 387,869 sold worldwide.[86]

Full-size crossover SUV

Full-size crossover SUVs are usually based on full-size cars. They are the largest crossovers that offer exclusively three rows. The first full-size crossovers include the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, and the Buick Enclave, with older full-size SUVs were mostly built above a body-on-frame chassis. The full-size crossover SUV class is sometimes intersect and being compared with the three-row mid-size crossover class as in the case of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.[87] Vehicles in this category usually are longer than 5,100 mm (200.8 in) in length.[46]

Body style categories

Three-door crossover

While a three-door body-on-frame SUV are not uncommon, crossover SUVs with three doors (including the tailgate door) are more rare in contrast. The decline of two or three-door vehicles in general have led to the disappearance of this category.[89][90][91]

Coupé crossover

Crossover SUVs with a sloping rear roofline may be marketed as a "coupé crossover SUV" or "coupé SUV". Although coupé itself supposed to mean a passenger car with a sloping or truncated rear roofline and two or three doors, every coupé crossover SUV (except for the Range Rover Evoque Coupé) is equipped with five doors.[92] The sloping roofline, also resembling fastbacks or liftbacks, arguably offers styling advantage compared to its standard crossover counterpart.[93][94] The body style notably gained criticism as some see it as less attractive and less practical than normal crossovers, since the low roofline reduces into the cargo space and rear passenger headroom.[95]

The BMW X6 has generally been considered as the first coupé crossover. It was marketed as a "sports activity coupé" (SAC), as opposed to standard BMW crossovers which are called "sports activity vehicle" (SAV). Introduced in 2008, the vehicle's styling generated some controversy at its introduction and it had less cargo space and a higher price tag, but the body style proved to be popular with tens of thousands being sold annually.[96] However, the Infiniti FX from 2003 has introduced a similar sloping roof design without marketing it as a coupé crossover.[97]

Due to its roots from the BMW X6, the segment mostly consists of vehicles in the luxury segments. Audi released the coupé version of their crossover with the "Sportback" moniker, while Mercedes-Benz uses the "Coupé" designation, both in line with their two-door and four-door coupés or fastbacks.[98] Several manufacturers began offering coupé crossovers from non-luxury segments, for example the Renault Arkana.[99]

According to Strategic Vision, an automotive research and consulting company, buyers of coupé crossovers particularly those from Mercedes-Benz, are four to five years younger than the usual buyer of typical SUVs. It brings down a car brand's average age, which in turn increases the brand's desirability. They also noted that buyers of SUV coupes are less price-sensitive, which means brands can increase the price tag on these vehicles and that would not affect the sales.[100]

Convertible crossover

There are several notable convertible crossover SUVs entering mass production, including the first of its kind which is the Toyota RAV4 soft top convertible. Released in North America for the 1998 model year, it was only offered up to 1999 model year.[101][102] Other examples include the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, Range Rover Evoque Convertible, and Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet.[103]

The category was heavily criticized by journalists, enthusiasts, and analysts for numerous reasons. Industry analyst Dave Sullivan from AutoPacific said that "they're awkward". He continued, "they're a strange kind of Franken-vehicle. And I think that's part of the problem."[104] On reviewing the Murano CrossCabriolet, Car and Driver mentioned that "Drivers will hate this car. This unholy beast wasn't cheap, either, setting buyers back almost $45,000. And as if all of that weren't bad enough, it was styled like a retirement-home cocktail party in shades of "Merlot" or "Glacier Pearl."[105] Some also questioned its purpose, as the practicality that crossovers usually have did not carryover to its convertible version, since it could only have two doors and little luggage space.[106][107]

Crossover-styled cars

Some manufacturers have been capitalizing the SUV boom by offering a version of station wagons, hatchbacks or MPVs with a raised ride height and the addition of rugged-looking accessories such as black plastic wheel arch extension kit, body cladding, skid plates and roof rails. Due to its raised ground clearance, it may be marketed as more capable off-road. Some of them may also equipped with all-wheel-drive. This strategy has been used by manufacturers to move models upmarket, or to help filling an absence in a crossover SUV segment. Some had described these vehicles as pseudo-crossovers.[108][109]

Station wagon

Due to its large cargo space and its practicality,[110][111] many manufacturers are releasing "off-road" versions of station wagons that are claimed to be more capable in soft off-road or all-weather situations due to its raised height,[112] essentially making them a crossover between a station wagon and an SUV.

One of the first manufacturer to offer a crossover version of a station wagon is Subaru, which offers the SUV-look version of the Legacy wagon since 1994 as the Legacy Outback. At the time, Subaru was absent in the growing SUV segment. Lacking the finances to design an all-new vehicle, Subaru added two-tone paint scheme, body cladding and a suspension lift to the Legacy wagon. It was marketed as a capable and more efficient alternative to larger truck-based SUVs. Sales exceeded expectations in North America.[113] The Outback became its own model in 1999.

Another example include the Volvo V70 XC (also called V70 Cross Country), first introduced in 1999.[114][115] It featured standard all-wheel drive.[116] In 2002, the model was renamed XC70. Audi has been making Allroad versions of their station wagons since 1999.[117] Currently, the Allroad version is offered for the A4 and the A6. Volkswagen and Škoda equivalent variants are called Alltrack and Scout respectively.

The segment is particularly popular in Europe due to the popularity of station wagons. In North America, some manufacturers are selling station wagons as crossovers due to the former's unpopularity.[118] In the United States, the crossover-styled Subaru Outback is both the best-selling station wagon, and the fourth best-selling mid-size car in 2019.[119]


Many manufacturers are also selling a crossover-styled variant of hatchbacks or city cars with the same body, either as a substitute or a complement to the subcompact crossover SUV segment. Unlike crossover wagons, most crossover-styled hatchbacks are usually not offered with all-wheel-drive.

One of the forerunners of crossover-styled hatchback is the Volkswagen CrossPolo, launched in 2005, and to some extent, the 1983 Fiat Panda 4x4, the 1996 Toyota Starlet Remix, and the 2003 Rover Streetwise. At that time, the CrossPolo was described as an SUV-like "lifestyle" vehicle.[120] The Dacia/Renault Sandero Stepway, the crossover-styled version of the Sandero launched in 2009 is an example of a well-received crossover-styled hatchback, as it consistently outsold its standard model and makes up for 65 percent of Sandero sales figures.[121][122]

Some manufacturers may chose to sell the crossover-styled hatchback under a separate nameplate, like the Subaru Crosstrek which is based on the Impreza hatchback. Other manufacturers had also went an extensive reengineering in differentiating the crossover-styled model with the standard model by completely reworking the hood area, for example the Honda WR-V which is based on the third-generation Fit/Jazz. These two vehicles are directly marketed as a subcompact crossover SUV model.


As most MPVs are roughly as tall as SUVs to begin with, several manufacturers tried upselling MPV models by adding crossover-styled variants. Crossover-styled MPVs are usually not offered with all-wheel-drive. This segment is particularly popular in Europe and Asia.

One of the first MPV with a crossover-styled variant was the Renault Scénic RX4 introduced in 2000, which feature a lifted ride height, rugged body cladding, tailgate-mounted spare wheel and offered with part time four-wheel-drive.[123] Another early example also include the Volkswagen CrossTouran, launched in 2006 as a "lifestyle" version of the Touran. It is fitted with a slightly different suspension to give a higher ride height.[124]

In some cases, manufacturers may also reengineer to differentiate the crossover-styled model with the standard model by reworking the hood area, for example, the Suzuki XL6/XL7, based on the second-generation Ertiga.[125] In some cases, some brands tried to directly market these models as a crossover SUV as the line between crossover-styled MPV and actual crossover SUV became blurry.

Apart from crossover-styled variants equipped with accessories, due to the declining popularity of MPVs and minivans, many manufacturers had also began developing MPVs with crossover-inspired styling from scratch, and may market them either purely as an MPV or as a "crossover MPV". This include the Chevrolet Orlando,[126] fifth-generation Renault Espace,[127] Mitsubishi Xpander,[128] Renault Triber,[129] fourth-generation Kia Carnival,[130] and Toyota Veloz.[131][132]


Crossover-styled sedans remained a rare phenomenon, however some manufacturers had experimented with it which led to the release of the Subaru Legacy SUS (short for "Sport Utility Sedan"),[133] Volvo S60 Cross Country,[134] Citroën C3L,[135] Renault/Dacia Logan Stepway, and the Qoros 3 GT.[136] Some models such as the Suzuki SX4 sedan (also called Neo Baleno in Indonesia) has some SUV-inspired design elements (high roofline and ground clearance) though not directly marketed as a crossover sedan.



Since the early 2010s, sales of crossover-type vehicles have been increasing in Europe.[137] By 2017, European sales of compact and mid-sized crossover models continued to surge.[138]

Best-selling crossover SUVs in Europe by segment, 2018
Segment Model Sales[139]
Small SUV Renault Captur 186,220
Mid-size SUV Nissan Qashqai 206,636
Large SUV Peugeot 5008 67,913
Small premium SUV BMW X1 93,164
Mid-size premium SUV Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class 108,323
Large premium SUV BMW X5 26,733

United States

Sales of crossovers increased 30% between 2003 and 2005.[5] By 2006, the segment came into strong visibility in the U.S., when crossover sales "made up more than 50% of the overall SUV market".[13] Sales increased in 2007 by 16%.[140] In 2013, the Audi Q5 became Audi's second best-selling vehicle in the United States market after the Audi A4 sedan.[141] Around half of Lexus' sales volume has come from its SUVs since the late 1990s.[142]

American manufacturers were initially slow to switch from their emphasis on light truck-based SUVs, and foreign automakers developed crossovers targeting the U.S. market as an alternative to station wagons that were unpopular there. By early 2000s, American car manufacturers had caught up.[5]


See Category:Crossover sport utility vehicles ( 496 )

See also


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