High, bulky and spacious, they are the perfect substitute for a traditional hatchback – and also make for ideal family cars. But, what is exactly a crossover car? And what makes them so popular with families and older drivers? We’ve got all the answers. So sit back and read on.

What’s a crossover car?

A crossover car is a cross between a hatchback and an SUV. The term is relatively new and it refers to cars with a higher driving position, great visibility, cheap running costs and slightly more space than a hatchback, without being much larger than those. Although they look like off-roaders, most crossovers on the road are two-wheel drive only and are not meant to be driven on rough terrain.

The Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Mokka are possibly two of the most popular crossover models out there. So you get an idea, they take the engine and suspension from traditional hatchbacks and combine that with the rugged design and elevated driving position of SUVs and 4X4s.

It’s fair to say that these days the terms crossover and SUV are used to describe tall cars with a high driving position and chunky looks. While they are technically not the same, they are similar enough so that at Motors.co.uk you can find crossovers under our SUV function.

What is an SUV?

SUV stands for ‘sport-utility vehicle’ and they have been in the market longer than crossovers. They are essentially a multi-passenger sport-utility vehicle with body-on-frame construction with a body mounted to a frame. Traditionally they tend to have the base of a pickup truck and are almost always rear-wheel drive.

However, as SUVs become more popular, they shed their rugged looks for more stylish features and a greater deal of comfort. Vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser or the Range Rover are still capable of tackling any terrain but are better equipped for daily life, with plenty of space and features.

What is a crossover SUV?

These days you’ll hear some people referring to crossovers as ‘crossover SUV’. It’s just another way of saying crossover and one that adds to the confusion between SUVs and crossover vehicles.

On top of that, sometimes crossover SUV’s are called CUVs. They are still a multi-passenger vehicle with car-like unibody construction that emulates the chunky styling of off-roaders but are born to be on the road.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

What is the difference between an SUV and a crossover car?

Summarising all the points above, a crossover is lighter and built on a car platform and a traditional SUV is heavier and uses a truck chassis. Having said that though, people and car manufacturers use the two terms as synonyms often.

If you’re in the market looking for your next crossover car, here are a few pros and cons you should consider.

Crossover Pros

  • High driving position
  • Similar fuel economy to a hatchback
  • Practical and reasonably spacious interior
  • Relatively low running costs
  • Reasonably low emissions compared with SUVs and 4X4s
  • Easy to drive around town, roads, motorways and in the countryside
  • Good selection of hybrid and electric models

Crossover Cons

  • Most models not built for off-road driving
  • In some cases, the boot can be small
  • Pricier than a regular hatchback

What to look out for on a crossover?

Depending on your preferences and needs, there are a few things to look out for on a crossover if you’re in the market to buy one. This type of car is great for almost anything you can think of (except off-road driving) from weekend getaways to long road trips and trips to the supermarket.

How big do you like your cars? Crossovers come in different sizes, from small ones like the Mini Countryman to big ones such as the Peugeot 3008. How many people will you be carrying? Do you need a big trunk? Do you need a lot of power in the engine? Or do you prefer eco-friendlier hybrid crossovers?

You may also want to look out for reliability, great Euro NCAP ratings (aka great safety), affordability, or fuel-efficiency. The choice is yours and with so many options out there you’re quite likely to find the best crossover for your lifestyle.

Why are crossovers so popular right now?

Crossovers and SUVs have been popular on UK roads for a few years now. Their rise in popularity with families and everybody else is due to many reasons.

Some may like the design and lifestyle image that they are associated with – they are rugged, bigger than a traditional hatchback and have a high-driving position that gives great views to all passengers. They’re also quite practical for parents trying to get their kids on them, plus most crossovers come with Isofix points. And older generations will find them easier to climb in and out of. Although they’re not made for off-road driving, they look the part, and that’s part of their appeal.

There is a really healthy market for them in the UK and almost every car manufacturer has a crossover among its ranks. For example, Nissan has made and sold more than three million Qashqais in its plant in Sunderland.

Photo by JZ The Creator on Unsplash

Best crossovers to buy

Like with anything, the best crossover you could buy is the one that fulfills your needs and your budget at the same time. Although some crossover vehicles have carved an excellent reputation and may be worth an extra look.

Thinking about buying a crossover car? You may want to check these top five crossovers for under £10,000, or the top 10 best small SUVs, or the best large SUVs if you fancy something bigger. Or maybe the best family SUVs in the market. Or the very best hybrid crossovers you could find. Perhaps also the cheapest crossovers may pique your interest?

If you don’t know where to start then, here’s a quick list of some of the most popular and best crossovers in the market. They’re all different, so check them out and pick the right one for you.

  1. Nissan Qashqai
  2. Renault Kadjar
  3. Seat Ateca
  4. Volkswagen Tiguan
  5. Peugeot 3008
  6. Audi Q3
  7. Mercedes GLA
  8. BMW X1
  9. Dacia Duster
  10. Suzuki Ignis
  11. Renault Captur
  12. Skoda Karoq
  13. Hyundai Kona
  14. Volkswagen T-Roc
  15. Kia Stonic
  16. Seat Arona
  17. Vauxhall Mokka X
  18. Mazda CX-5
  19. Kia Sportage
  20. Toyota RAV-4

Crossover FAQs