Crossover Vs SUV: Which is Better?

Crossover Vs SUV: Which is Better?


The most predominant automotive trend of the last 10 years is clear; motorists prefer taller, larger 4-wheel drive style vehicles over hatchbacks and estates. And the numbers don’t lie, in 2021, SUVs made up nearly 50% of the total car sales across Europe. 

Although the benefits of both Crossovers and SUVs may be many but are there as many deciding factors between the two? In this article, we’ll explain what each one is and how, and if, they differ. As well as helping you decide if a crossover or an SUV is best for your particular needs. 

What is an SUV? 

The Jeep Wagoneer was based on a pickup truck, first released for sale in 1963 by the famous American automaker Jeep. It soon became a favourite of families needing extra passenger and luggage space.  

The original Jeep Wagoneer had a critical design feature that some people still consider the defining feature of an SUV, it was a body-on-frame vehicle. This means it had a sturdy steel ladder chassis, and a car body bolted on top. This made it easy to make passenger cars that share pickup truck components 

Since then, car designers all over the world have realised many motorists enjoy the higher driving position, off-road capability and feel of safety that a high-up large vehicle affords. 

To start with it was mainly companies that also produced utility vehicles made SUVs, such as Ford, Land Rover, Toyota and others. Now, after the definition of what makes an SUV has changed slightly, almost every manufacturer includes one in their lineup. 

What is a Crossover? 

Crossovers are technically small SUVs, larger than traditional estate cars or hatchback cars. A more recently introduced body type, the crossover evolved to be a higher vehicle that didn’t have the large engine or physical bulk of a full-size SUV. 

Instead of a ladder chassis, they are typically built using the same engineering architecture as their car cousins. For instance, the 2nd most popular car and most popular SUV sold in 2022, the Nissan Qashqai, is built on the platform used for the Renault Megane. 

Modern cars have used this ‘Unibody’ design, where the body also forms the chassis, for a long time, but is especially popular in Europe as it tends to allow the cars to be more compact. As well as using a unibody design, they are often only equipped with front-wheel drive.  

What is the difference between a crossover and an SUV?  

We’ve explored what defines each type of vehicle, but what really matters is the difference between them, which will allow you to make an informed decision.  

In some ways, the Crossover is the baby brother to the SUV, they achieve many of the same positive characteristics, but there are some differences: 

SUVs are derived from commercial vehicles such as pickup trucks and tend to use a body-on-frame chassis. Crossovers however are built much like a regular hatchback, meaning they weigh less and are more space efficient. 

Are SUVs more powerful than Crossovers? 

Because SUVs use utility vehicle components as a base, they are often available with the same range of engines. These are generally larger diesel engines that are made for towing heavy loads.  

Due to them being based on smaller passenger vehicles, Crossovers typically have smaller engines. This does however mean they are more fuel efficient. 

Do Crossovers have 4-wheel drive? 

Typically, no. Because crossovers are heavily based on car chassis and designs, they often only incorporate front-wheel drive. All or four-wheel drive requires the addition of components such as gearboxes and changes to the chassis of the car. 

SUVs on the other hand, are often built on utility vehicle platforms, such as pickup trucks or 4x4 vehicles. This means they often have the infrastructure for native 4-wheel drive to start with.  

This doesn’t mean that all SUVs have 4WD, though. Many are offered in 2WD for better value and fuel economy. 

Do SUVs cost more than crossovers? 

Possibly due to their more complex construction, or that there is less demand, SUVs are typically more expensive than crossovers.  

Vehicles such as the Range Rover SV and Toyota Hilux are not only larger and more powerful than many other vehicles on the market but are aimed towards the luxury segment, again increasing the price tag. 

Even after the purchase, SUVs will cost more money to run, their larger engines are less efficient and cost more to tax than a typical crossover. They are also typically more expensive to insure.  

Are SUVs safer than Crossovers? 

One of the important factors that lead people to choose SUVs and other larger cars is the perceived safety benefits. Whilst it is true that SUVs are statistically safer than smaller cars, are SUVs notably more safe than crossovers? 

One benefit of crossovers is their lighter weight which means they have less momentum to stop when braking, and better cornering performance for avoiding obstacles.  

The statistics show, however, that you’re more likely to survive a crash the larger the vehicle. This is both testaments to the high build quality and ability to incorporate better and more numerous safety features into larger vehicles.  

The question of whether SUVs or crossovers are safer is a difficult one to answer. In theory, Crossovers should be less safe due to their lower weight and size, yet they are less likely to be involved in an accident in the first place. 

SUVs Vs Crossovers 

Benefits Of Crossovers  

  • A smaller vehicle is more fuel efficient and easier to park and 
  • The style and presence of an SUV with lower costs  
  • Cheaper to purchase and run 
  • More choice of models and manufacturers 
  • Typically 2 wheel drive is less complex 

Benefits Of SUVs 

  • A higher vehicle with better ground clearance gives some off-road capability 
  • Statistically safer because they are heavier 
  • Rugged utility vehicle-based chassis which should last longer  
  • Higher towing capacity due to more power 
  • More practicality with a larger boot and passenger space 

SUVs Vs Crossovers: Which Is Better? 

Now we’ve highlighted the differences, which one is actually better? Well this question, like many decisions relating to cars, depends on your personal circumstance and preference. 

If you need a comfortable and luxurious car that can carry 5-7 people and tackle some serious off-road challenges, then you need an SUV. 

If you’re unlikely to ever need a 4-wheel-drive, but would benefit from the higher driving position and large overall size compared to a hatchback, a crossover could be perfect for you. As we’ve discussed they are also more budget-friendly, to buy and use. 

Best SUVs and Crossovers In 2023 

With the vast array of models on offer, we have laid out some of the best-rated cars currently on sale, in order to give a starting point. 

Best Crossovers In 2023 

Kia Sportage - formerly seen as a cheap car brand, their recent offerings have been up in reliability, comfort and style. The latest Kia Sportage is available in petrol, diesel and hybrid variants. 

If you have a larger family, they are available with 7 seats. Kia’s 7-year warranty should also give some peace of mind with the cost of repairs.  

Honda CR-V - Honda has a well-deserved name in reliability and engineering excellence. The CR-V has been one of the best-selling crossovers since its inception. 

Both the diesel and petrol engines have great reviews, but the Hybrid is the one Honda is most proud of. Whilst some may find the interior a bit busy, the outside is modern and stylish, with moulded panels giving it an excellent road presence. 

Mazda CX-5 - The new generation of Mazda vehicles have a very striking appearance, and the CX-5 is no exception. It features high-tech LED headlights as standard, with sleek lines that somewhat downplay the large size. Perfect for those wanting a larger vehicle without the stigma. 

Best SUVs In 2023 

Range Rover Sport - The quintessential British SUV, the Range Rover in its various forms has always focussed on luxury. The flagship Range Rover has up until recently even used a body-on-frame design, just as the original SUVs did. 

Whilst not topping the charts for reliability in past years, Jaguar Land Rover has made some improvements to their quality control systems and is producing more high-quality vehicles. 

The range-topping Range Rover SVR features a 5.0 litre supercharged V8 and is capable of reaching 60mph in 4.3 seconds, faster than many sports cars. 

Toyota Land Cruiser  - Whilst the Hilux offered by Toyota in the UK isn't the biggest SUV they make - it’s actually known as the Toyota Prado outside of the UK and Europe - it can certainly be considered a large SUV here in Britain at over 4.5m long and nearly 2m wide. 

One thing Toyota is well known for its reliability, and the new Land Cruiser should not disappoint, with its high-tech but reliable 2.8L diesel engine. Its towing capacity is one of the best in its class at 3,000kg.

We've got a guide to the most reliable cars here! 

It also comes equipped with all the modern off-road systems such as hill descent and electronic traction control to prevent wheel slip. Its large ground clearance also aids it in crossing land not suitable for most other SUVs. 

Volkswagen Toureg - Whilst not following the traditional mantra of SUVs, the Toureg has always been of the unibody design, this isn't to say it can't hold its own across rough terrain, it just fits in better in the city.

With their recent trend towards luxury, the latest Volkswagen comes with all modern features such as adaptive cruise control, a sumptuous leather interior and park and lane assist. 

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