What is a Crossover?
You know what a car is, what a truck is and what an SUV is, right? Well, lately we’ve been hearing about crossover vehicles. The Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Flex, Toyota Venza and Infiniti FX50 are examples of crossovers. What the heck does that mean?
To explain it well, you need to understand some history. Many years ago, there were cars and there were trucks. Cars were for transporting passengers. Ford’s Model A was an early example. It was low to the ground, and had plenty of room for passengers. As the years passed, automakers refined the car to have a smoother ride and better gas mileage. Various types of cars became available to cater to specialty needs. The luxury car, the economy car and so on. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the station wagon became the family car. It was capable of carrying many passengers and had a smooth ride. But its image was pretty nerdy.
Trucks were an entirely different animal. Trucks were for working. To drive a truck, you sat up high and used your muscles to operate the steering wheel and the brakes. They were built to be tough. They needed to have the power to haul things or carry heavy loads in their beds. This, of course, made them gas guzzlers. They had a cab that would seat two, or maybe three people. They could go off road because they had plenty of ground clearance and muscle. Four wheel drive was added to help with off roading. Trucks were owned by construction workers, forest rangers, ranchers and others who needed a tough vehicle in their work.
In the 1990’s, the SUV was born. It was a truck with room for passengers. Build on a the frame of a truck, often with 4 wheel drive, it also had enough seats and comfort for a family. It drove like a truck and sucked down gasoline like one. They were wildly popular, but not among the typical truck crowd. SUVs were popular with families who needed something like a station wagon, but with the image of a truck. Soccer moms everywhere drove Ford Explorers, Cadillac Escalades and Chevy Suburbans. The Hummer was the height of this ridiculous trend of driving a modified off road vehicle to transport families through the cities and suburbs.
When gasoline prices skyrocketed in the 2000’s, the popularity of SUVs plummeted. Some people ditched their SUVs for hybrids and other fuel efficient small cars. For those who wanted SUVs without the gas bill, the crossover was born.
A crossover is like an SUV, except that it’s built on the frame of a car. This makes for a smooth ride and better gas mileage, but you give up much of the power and off road ability. This is fine for most of the people who bought SUVs anyway. You don’t need 4 wheel drive to navigate the freeway every day. So a crossover is a car with room for plenty of passengers. Just don’t call it a station wagon.