By on August 7, 2017

mercury commuter

I’m old enough to remember when the word “minivan” didn’t exist, when American *moms drove carpools and kids to piano lessons in sedans and station wagons. Styles, tastes, and social conventions change, though. Over the decades we saw how Chrysler’s introduction of the front-wheel drive minivan, CAFE standards that favored light trucks, and women discovering that they liked sitting up high in traffic, have changed the American families’ fleet.

Due, in no small part, to consumers’ zeal to keep their mommymobiles from having the stigma of mommymobiles, we’ve seen the family “car” go from wagon, to minivan, to truck-based SUVs (which, much to those consumers’ dismay actually rode like trucks), to high-waisted passenger-car based crossovers. It’s not just the American fleet, either. CUVs are popular worldwide.

Unlike my friend Jack, I have no particular ire for crossovers. I drive a small car and from my perspective, literally, CUVs have about the same profile, size, and bulk as the midsize SUVs and full-scale minivans that preceded them. People buy or lease the vehicles that meet most of their needs most of the time and today’s drivers think that crossovers fit that description.

Still, change is a constant. I was going to say that somewhere, there is a warehouse full of elephant-leg bell-bottom jeans, but in searching for an image to link to in case some of you youngins don’t know what they look like I discovered that they have come back into style. Hopefully, the multi-color polyester plaids from the ’70s will stay unfashionable. Showing up at your kid’s school in a Honda CR-V or at your club in a Cayenne is fashionable today, but as Tower of Power taught us, what is hip today might become passe, and unlike bell-bottoms, 1960s station wagons will not become stylish again due to today’s parents’ fondness for airbags and other safety features.

Driving a crossover won’t always be de rigueur. Put on your prognosticator’s cap and tell us what you think the next sea change in the automotive world will bring us. Will the kids who grew up in crossovers embrace the three-box sedan? Will anyone care if our vehicles are all generic autonomous “mobility providers” that run silent and run green?

Personally, I think that we’re going to be operating vehicles with both internal combustion engines and steering wheels for a long time, and that humans like to decorate everything that we have, so style will always count, but then as I said at the outset, I’m old. I could be wrong and in any case, it’s just one man’s opinion. What’s yours?

Ten years from now, what will be the most popular type of vehicle that consumers buy? Will it come in a familiar form factor, like the sedan, or will it be sui generis, as the minivan and crossover have been?

*It wasn’t just moms, though the fact that fewer women worked outside of the home then meant that carpooling had a bit of a feminine flavor. I attended a community-wide Hebrew day school for K-9. Until we moved about a half-mile from the school and I could walk, my parents carpooled with other parents, and more often than not, it was the dads who drove in the morning. Even after we moved, my father, of blessed memory, would usually drop me off at school on his way to work.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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99 Comments on “What Will Drivers Embrace When Crossovers are Passe?...”


  • avatar
    Tennessee_Speed

    I want a vehicle that handles well & fun to drive.
    I guess that leaves out SUVs.
    I really like the upcoming Jaguar E-Pace, but will it handle as well as the Jag XE?

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Considering the XE is built on the aluminum RWD platform used for the F-Pace and XF and that the E-Pace is built on the transverse FWD platform used for the Evoque and Discovery Sport, there is no chance in hell that it will be in the same league as the XE or F-Pace for driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, everything old becomes new again at some point…so…

    VW Rabbits!

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Self-driving automated pods with 1 to 4 seats. People have fewer children and more single person households, and self-driving vehicle should have few accidents so no need for a big heavy vehicle. Let the pod take your kid to school or soccer practice by itself, let the pod go pick up your groceries without any human inside, let the pod take you to work and then go home and park in the garage until the next errand.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      It may take a couple more decades, but you’re right. Once we give up on the concept of personal ownership and everyone is ride sharing in autonomous cars, all we will have are generic boxes optimized for frequent usage by unrelated people. The only differences will be in the luxury features.

      If your primary car is an autonomous box that you send out to earn money for you, that leaves you with the ability to have a fun car. So maybe sporty coupes will make a comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Sounds like the beginning to “The Jetsons.”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Beautiful pillarless hardtop coupes & sedans!

    Yeah, right, but dreaming is free…

  • avatar
    Toad

    The auto show concept vehicles all seem to look like a small office inside and a stretched pod like shape outside. I’m inclined to agree that is the direction that most cars will evolve toward: a practical, mostly autonomous commuter pod that are more for riding in than driving.

    For most people that will be considered progress. Your views may vary.

    For what it’s worth, stations wagons are not gone, they just mated with the VW Rabbit and spawned the CUV. Like most kids they are taller than their parents, better with technology, and quicker than the last generation. It is odd how all the enthusiasts that bemoan the loss/lack of station wagons cannot see that the CUV is simply a taller wagon with little pretense of being anything else.

    BTW, glad to see Ronnie back.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      While I agree with you that the CUV is, at heart, a lifted station wagon, I disagree that there is “little pretense of being anything else”. CUVs are quite pretentious, suggesting that off-road go-anywhere capabilities are available, and that the CUV can handle anything you throw at it, when in fact, it can’t do much more that the station wagon of yore.

      When you think about it, wagons, minivans and CUV are all the same vehicle with somewhat different styling. Basically, 2 box (or 1.5 box for minivans) shapes with the larger box kept open to accommodate people and/or cargo as effectively as possible. Therefore, whatever follows the CUV will maintain this 2 box open design structure, but the exterior will morph in some fashion to allow mommies to convince themselves that they’re not driving mommy mobiles.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        From my CUV infested post in suburbia I can’t think of one owner who has claimed/bragged/hoped their CUV has any off road abilities. My neighbors don’t seem to have any pretensions that their Cute Ute is going anyplace more challenging than the Chick-Fil-A drive thru.

        Middle class suburbanites buy CUV’s for the same reasons my parents bought their station wagons 40 years ago: easy to haul kids and stuff with somewhat stylish packaging.

        One modern difference: now that you can’t leave your kids alone in a car EVER, even for seconds, the higher seating position of CUV’s makes it easier to frequently get kids (or baby seats) in and out (not my issue but parents have mentioned it to me).

        Finally, minivans have become so bloated that that they can be a chore for some drivers to handle. If you don’t need all the space a Rav4/CRV/Rouge can look like a much easier vehicle to pilot thru the Target parking lot.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Further note after reading some of the other posts below, I expect that the styling change will take the form of something quirky and idiosyncratic that makes the statement “my people hauler means I’m not like the other Moms, I’m more fun”, along the lines of the Cube or gen1 xB. As the millennials start hauling kids and gear they’ll need the same 2 box functionality but they’ll be attracted to hip, ironic quirk.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          That’s my guess too – something shaped alot like current CUVs but without the off-road pretentions and huge wheels, and funky styling in its place – basically, a larger Kia Soul or xB, which themselves are/were just station wagons trying not to look like one. Take one and enlarge enough for a third-row seat and you have the mommymobile/daddymobile of the future.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you. I never really went anywhere, I’ve just been busy with my electric harmonica project.

      After about 25 iterations and even some revisions *after* launch, I’m amazed that something as complicated as a car can get made.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Station wagons are not gone from Europe. There are lots of them. Beautiful things. Lots of crossovers also. Distinctly different from each other. Not many suv’s and vanishingly few pickups. Sensible lot here.

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    I have been telling people for years that these “SUV’s” are different in name only from the old Ford LTD and Caprice Estate Wagons of their parents’ days. The profile is just the same, only the ride height is different. The one positive thing about the old wagons, the rear facing seat, has just been rotated to become the “third row” seat. They are all just mommy mobiles…. I give my husband crap for his desire to drive one too. I will stay in a proper low slung car, 2 door coupe preferred, but sadly no decent coupes exist in this day and age.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Small, economical and fun to drive hatchbacks will make a comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      When the average American gets shorter and skinnier. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’m 6’2 and 350lbs or so. Which is WAY above average in size. Four of me fit just fine in a VW Golf GTI, which is both economical and a heck of a lot of fun to drive (if not all that small by historical hatchback standards). What more do you need?

        As for the question, I assume “longer, lower, wider” will come back into style eventually. And hopefully colors other than grayscale as well.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          The everything greyscale won’t go away until/unless we can special-order cars with (reasonably priced) a la carte options again. As long as we’re expected to buy cars sitting on dealer lots, those dealers are only going to want cars in generic colors acceptable to everybody.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Dealers do this because everyone wants grayscale currently. 25 years ago dealer lots were a sea of shades of green, because green was the “in” color in the early ’90s. All kinds of bright and cheery colors in those days, and people didn’t order any more cars than they do now. color fashion is very cyclical. Actual colors will come back into fashion again eventually.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        The Dutch are bigger than Americans and they somehow manage with far smaller cars. Less territorial also.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I hope it’s wagons. I do think it is quite funny when my gen-x sister says she would never drive a mom-mobile minivan. She is a mom, she drives a CUV/SUV. Ipso facto, SUVs are mom-mobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      The curious thing to me is that if you ask your sister, or any other woman who has given birth, what is she most proud of, she will almost certainly say being a mother. Yet those same women will go to great lengths to avoid anything associated with motherhood, e.g. rejecting whatever is identified as a mommy mobile, or sneering at mom jeans.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I think. You’re correct.
      But they will be slightly raised and sporty.
      I think there have been many introduced in the past year or two…
      Audi alltrack.
      Vw golf sportwagen
      Also Buick, Volvo and others.

      Now if they can just keep them affordable like the Buick, people will begin buying.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    If gas prices stay cheap, things will swing back to butch SUVs, maybe some sort of even more civilized and luxurious pickup truck with some sort of a heated/air conditioned and accessible bed ala Avalanche?

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Emission concerns will make gas dirt cheap unless it is much more heavily taxed. As cheap as rocks. Yet cars will get smaller/lighter. Adas systems will take care of safety.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    We are in peak-crossover – I have a hard time imagining us ever leaving this spot anytime soon. When crossovers provide more space, better seating, greater efficiency and creature comforts compared to sedans from 10+ years ago, I don’t see us giving up our CR-Vs. Unless it’s to autonomous office pods as mentioned above.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Probably the dumbest automotive trend ever was the personal luxury coupe of 1975-85. Big on the outside, small on the inside, slow, and thirsty. Moms back then who were too cool for wagons drove Cutlasses, Monte Carlos, T-birds, and Cordobas. Rich ones had Eldorados or even a Mark IV or V. Poorer ones had Volare/Aspen coupes or Granadas.

    By comparison, a modern CUV offers the space of a 70s wagon in the footprint of a personal luxury coupe, is faster, and gets better mileage.

    Unless driving becomes a personal statement of style and independence again, CUVs are here to stay. Hate them if you want, but they make a lot of sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Vehicle styles generally reflect demographics.

      The Baby Boom and the population migrating to the suburbs = station wagons.

      The Boomers get jobs and become independent but not yet raising families = PLCs.

      Boomers starting families but not having much disposable income = hatches.

      CUVs = smaller families but more mandated ‘safety’ features.

      A generalization but generally indicative.

    • 0 avatar

      I can pack more in the trunk and cabin of an ’85 Toronado than a CX-3. And look better doing it.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        I would hope so, since an ’85 Toronado is three feet longer and almost a foot wider than a CX-3. The CX-9 would be a more fair comparison, and it’s still smaller on the outside than a Toronado.

        You are right that a Toronado looks better, though. American elegance vs. a potato on wheels.

        The fact that PLCs are dumb doesn’t keep me from wanting one. I would happily have any of the ’73 GM Colonnade coupes.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I remember disliking those PLCs even when I was a kid in the back seat of these cars.

      I was wondering like Matt said why they were so big on the outside and small on the inside, but then I wasn’t the intended customer.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I wonder the same thing about Mustangs and Camaros, much as I love the look of them. So much bigger on the outside than a BMW 2-series, yet so much smaller on the inside. Even the Challenger, which is as big as a whale, really has a pretty small though usable back seat.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think the notion that SUVs are “in style” is a mistake. If you design a vehicle solely for practical use, it would probably look like a crossover with sliding doors. The high ride height, the high passenger/cargo volume to footprint ratio, the good visibility… none of this is stylish or cool.

    And for all the minivangelists, there’s nothing mini about today’s minivans. A Honda Odyssey is as big as a Chevy Tahoe. The only direction I can see the market going is if manufacturers venture to go where Mazda failed, and bring over some compact minivans. There is some cool stuff abroad (Honda Jade, Toyota Wish etc). Crossover buyers will only continue to go more practical.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      You are very right. I was always surprised that the Villager/Quest/MPV didn’t gain more traction…but then their gas mileage wasn’t really an improvement over a full size “mini-van”.

      I say if Subaru brought out a Villager-sized van with hybrid AWD they’d make all the money.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Why does smaller size have to equal dramatically better gas mileage? I like small because I have no use for big, and smaller is handier. If the gas mileage is better that is a pleasant bonus, but not a requirement since I expect the larger vehicle to be quite efficient as well. Golf vs. Passat, as an example. If you don’t need to haul 7-8 people and a bunch of stuff at the same time, the old short minivans were a lot handier than the current size. Which really are just “vans” at this point.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Passat/Golf comparison is irrelevant because they have the same engine. A more relevant comparo is something like the CRV/Pilot…. a solid 30% fuel economy gap. And yea most people don’t care about the potential upsides of higher fuel consumption or have infinite buckets of money to spend on fuel. If fuel economy didn’t matter to the market at large (not just krhodes1 from TTAC) manufacturers wouldn’t use FE figures for marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      People are too worried about what other people think of their cars. Can’t choose anything too far from the worn American car consumer tastes.

  • avatar
    oldmangrimes

    For most drivers with families, they want to drive the biggest, safest vehicle they can afford. Just look at the old and new Civic in the nearby TTAC story. Bad mpg was a main factor that kept people from buying even more SUVs in the past, and pushed them to crossovers. I think with advances in engine efficiency, continued low gas prices, and eventually electric drive, many people will sell their crossovers and buy larger vehicles. I think the future (outside of big congested cities) will be large AWD hybird or fully electric vans. Like Nissan NV3500 size, except more aerodynamic. They’ll have self-parking autopilot to help with the giant blind spots. They’ll be able to tow your trailer or boat, too. They’ll call it an SUV, or some other new TLA like EAV (Electric Activity Vehicle?). I’d buy one. Most of my friends would too, once they are cheap enough. The large battery pack low to the ground would improve handling, and remove the unsafe high center of gravity of the current style of full-size passenger vans.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I don’t really look at it as a phase where people will necessarily move on.

    Everyone talks about the SUV “craze” in like the early 1990’s, but really the CUV is just the natural extension of that same vehicle choice. Even people with modest budgets liked the utility of an SUV and wanted one, they just couldn’t afford such an expensive vehicle. They also didn’t need something so heavy duty. So they compromised with an economy car or sedan. But now they can sort of have both with a CUV. It’s not what I want but I can see the appeal.

    I really cant imagine a car consumer going back to say coupes, economy hatchbacks or sedans in any large numbers. If anything, I see the next phase being almost minivan like “pods” that are self driving.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    A big part of it is going to depend on what the current administration decides with the CAFE rules. If they’re eased/eliminated, maybe BoF SUVs will make a big time comeback.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I honestly think this is a possibility with cheap gas, and especially continued degradation of infrastructure. With continued refinements in suspension/steering technology to make them ride and handle better than ever before. Maybe even shift to stronger/reinforced unibodies and fully independent suspensions but make them look as trucky as ever.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        Bingo GTE! On my freeway slog it’s basically a war zone with deep ruts from road to bridge and in addition to poor roads, numerous debris which would obliterate plastic front air dam of a sedan.
        I think what a beating my imaginary 911 would take on said route, with alignments needed quarterly.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    They will move on to Tank Type and Schoolbus Size vehicles! Detroit will notice that they are exempt from taxes, and will lobby Congress for extending the exemption to giant vehicles for the public. Jack Baruth will be the only automotive journalist to dare notice that their road manners aren’t so great, the others being too scared to not get free tanks from the car manufacturers.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    It is fashionable to put down CUVs or SUVs. Thinking the next thing, just around the corner, will soon take their place.

    But let’s be real. Ever since the initial Jeep Cherokee and the first Jurassic Park Ford Explorer, the SUVs have never looked back. With the possible exception of the great recession years when gas was more than $4, the cross overs, SUVs, trucks are taking the world over. They just make sense. And gas is never going back up what with fracking technologies and all.

    They are safer, give you more room, are easier to get into and out for both older people and parents that have to take kids out of child seats, and the view out is so much better than lowly sedans.

    It is time to accept the inevitable. Just like dinosaurs the era of sedans is over. The age of SUVs and CUVs is here, and I for one accept and greet the new era of safer, bigger, roomier, easier to get into and out with open arms.

    • 0 avatar
      King of Eldorado

      Bingo. For 90% of the population — at least those who must limit themselves to owning one car — the driving dynamics of CUVs are just fine. Ten years from now, the most popular vehicle will be a riff on the Subaru Forester with technological updates — more power as standard, better fuel efficiency via adding lightness and using electric motors to power to the rear wheels — and more stylish. People will be noticing climate change and international conflicts as existential threats affecting them personally, and will be looking for “prepper” features such as high ground clearance to get through flooded streets, AWD for harsh winters, a huge gas tank, and sufficient interior space and towing capacity for take-it-all-with-you capability.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with some of the others here, the driverless pod mobile offices/living areas will ultimately replace the CUV.

      I have a CUV now and love it, I would supplement it with a minivan for larger loads, and/or a coupe/convertible for something fun to drive.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    Tailfins. A car really does not look modern without them. This is something that is long overdue for a comeback.

  • avatar
    Joss

    TRUE MOTORING JOY:Sex pod with sex bots. This being a kinda future Sputnik that the fedoras of the 50S/60S could never have imagined and completely blown their fedoras clean off.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I think we’re entering an era of dichotomy. Yes gas is cheap and people like lots of space and safety, but the pendulum is swinging toward city living.
    In more and more cities the limiting factor in car choice is space. Its easier to park and maneuver a smaller car than a large one. Past that, more and more millenials don’t even own a car in a city. Here in Los Angeles, Uber and Lyft are easy to get and relatively cheap. As a 70 year old on the cusp of retirement, I am considering going to 1 car for my wife and me and supplementing with Uber as needed.
    I also look at the possibility of a “black swan” event. With tensions rising by Russian buzzing of our aircraft, with the USN firing warning shots at Iranian warships and with rising North Korean bellingerency, its easy to envision an event leading to a rapid run up in gas prices.
    Call me a contrarian, but 10 years from now I see smaller, not larger vehicles and a move away from gasoline and diesel toward electric.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      gasser is right.

      What will accelerate this, and make it all acceptable, is the Uber/Lyft/Tesla world. No longer will people feel the need to have the single vehicle that does everything they will ever need. No more will you see dad schlepping down the highway to work in his Suburban that never sees more than another person in it except for three times a year when he takes friends out to dinner.

      If people own cars at all, they will own cars that make sense in their day to day lives as they downsize, live downtown, etc. Need to go out with friends? Lyft. Need to haul something back from Ikea? Uber Truck. Etc, etc.

      This will take society suddenly discovering that everyone else is “allowing” the individual NOT to have The One Vehicle, that it’s perfectly OK and reasonable to hire Uber Truck to get you home from Ikea or Home Depot. So far that’s not the case–people being people, they need “permission” from everyone else in society to do it differently than the rest of society is doing it–but that “permission” will come, and the norm will be people zipping around in small cars by themselves–if they own a car at all.

      You can bet the Tesla transport business won’t be full of Model S and X to carry individuals from points A to B.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think you underestimate the ability of most Millennials to eventually turn into their parents. Most everyone does eventually, no matter how hip and cool they think they are when they are 25.

        Though that said, this 48yo would LOVE to live downtown in a hip and happening neighborhood. I just am too cheap to spend what it would cost on housing to do so. So summer and winter places in the burbs it is. Two houses for about 1/3 what the hip and happening pad would cost seems like a better deal. I like to drive, it doesn’t take long to get to the hip neighborhood, nice as it would be to walk. I can walk when I get there.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      The pendulum can swing back away from urban living. One factor will be when current 20 somethings decide to spawn. Good schools, a decent yard for the offspring to play in without triggering calls to Children’s Services because Mom or Dad isn’t hovering in sight of said offspring, etc.
      I think CUVs will continue longer than the urban drift. CUVs are on a continuum with cars from the 20’s to the 60’s and beyond – more upright, better visibility, easier ingress/egress, etc. The cars of the last decade, especially the ones with gun slit windows and lower seating, to me, don’t look like they are on that continuum. For families, another factor in CUVs favor is the child seats that look as bulky and complicated as anything Martin-Baker has come up with. You need a bulky box to put them in and I doubt that we’ll back off on safety standards.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      gasser, the pendulum is not swinging toward city living, at least in the United States. The largest population growth has been in the lower density suburbs at the edge of cities.
      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-shift-to-the-suburbs-sped-up-last-year/
      Most suburban parking spots are large enough for full size pickup trucks. Anything smaller like a minivan or a large CUV is super easy to park in the suburbs. Uber has become fairly popular in the suburbs, but primarily as a way to avoid driving while drunk.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ronnie love the picture of the pillarless Mercury station wagon. Is this a 58 or 59? I see the crossover crazy lasting for a long time, but eventually it will run its course. Having a CRV in my fleet it has many things that I like from the easy entrance and exit and the easy access to the rear. Also AWD or 4WD is a handy thing to have in the snow. If gas prices go up then smaller more efficient vehicles will become popular but if gas prices stay down then larger suvs and trucks will become even more popular. Sedans will not come back unless they make them roomier and more functional. Hard to live with a vehicle with a low roof that passengers heads touch the rear window and that passengers have to be a contortionist to get in and out of. Smaller trunks are another drawback of today’s sedans. Might as well lose the rear doors and make them a real coupe.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    I tend to agree with gasser, as long as your talking non trucks. For them, the trend will be to pickups the size of 5ton cube vans from yesterday. With the ability to pull the Palestinians and Israelis together, they will all be four door four wheel drive with a four foot box. They will call them DeVille or Electra and the world will be much closer to perfection.
    Actually I don’t really care as long as they DONT have consoles that take up the whole friggin interior. Oh, and I want a return to nice cheery colors. And stainless door edge guards. Is that to much to ask ?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am not a fan of large consoles and would rather have a 60/40 split bench seat with folding armrest. One of the reasons for the large consoles could be a safety issue in that by not having a full bench seat no one can sit in the middle. No extra seat belt in the middle and no concern about being sued by a passenger sitting in the middle of the front seat who is more likely to be injured in an accident than a passenger sitting in the middle of the rear seat. Just my thoughts.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Except that all domestic full-size trucks are still offered with a 3 person front seat as standard. It just isn’t a popular choice outside of basic work trucks.

      More often than not, people who buy a truck for personal use would rather have the storage, cup holders, comfortable armrest, a place to put their phone that is plugged in, and so on over an extra seat in the middle. Some offer both, with a console that folds up to form the back of a seat. My cousin’s moderately equipped 2014 Silverado is like this.

      . If its a crew or extended cab, that means it still has 5 seat belts even if it has a permanent center console, just like any sedan or 2-row crossover that is sold today.

      3 person bench seats are/were occasionally handy when the truck was most often a single cab work horse that rarely took on passengers. If one still wants to use a truck for that, they’re still built in regular cab form. You’ll likely find a few at construction sites and such to prove they do exist, but they’re just not as practical and therefore not as popular as a personal vehicle.

      The guys ribbing on (Accord) coupes for not being practical enough should love it when they see an F-150 SuperCrew with one person in it. So practical! He COULD carry four others easily!

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        This is something I point out alot. Regular sedans (and even coupes) used to mostly have front bench seats and be expected to carry up to six people. Even small cars, like early-’60s Falcons and Corvairs and ’80s K-cars were advertised as 6-passenger cars. Now anything more than four people gets buyers thinking they need a third row, which nowadays usually means a crossover.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    A few things based on my wife’s preference:

    1) Big sporty low profile wheel
    2) Tall seating
    3) Sporty looking (looks youthful and sexy, not mommy and utility) but not sporty handling (don’t want harsh ride).

    Typically that means whatever sport car or pickup truck design cue, raise it higher, soften the ride, and add gadgets to it.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    Drove the four door hardtop non wagon version of the 1959 Mercury for a while in high school. Was huge; never wanted to drive a car that size again. Driving a VW was a revalation.
    Not everybody wants the biggest vehicle they can get.
    Would like to see the return of real “minivans”. Nothing mini about current minivans, as another poster pointed out.
    Dismayed by some of the negativity towards some types of vehicles from other posters.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    I actually invented the crossover decades ago, so what I say should carry some weight. ;)

    I think we’ll see smaller turbocharged engines with electric assist and therefore the big design change will be the minimization of the front engine bay and hood. And I see that combined with the boom in 3 row seating leading to larger interior compartments with convertible seating that can easily change from seating to storage (bye bye dedicated storage compartments). Oh, and rear-facing seating options so that the 2nd and 3rd rows can face each other. So, ironically, we go to something that’s closer to a minivan in basic design architecture. But lower, wider and sleeker. Think more like watermelon seeds.

  • avatar
    eakratz

    I’ll go out on a limb and say something like a four door El Camino. Subaru was just ahead of the times.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Rented a GMC Terrain last weekend, what a horrible piece of crap. CUVs are the car makers way of taking a compact chassis and selling for 30% more. Anyway, the Terrain was truly pathetic and what’s really interesting is a couple weeks earlier, I had a loaner Lexus NX and it wasn’t much better than the Terrain, save for a nicer interior and better materials. But, NX or Terrrain, same cramped cabin, same hopeless visibility, same weird high/hard suspension, same underpowered four that moos like a sad cow. CUVs are cartoon cars for cartoon people.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      “same underpowered four that moos like a sad cow” Sorry, but that’s just flat-out inaccurate in in the case of the NX 200t. 0-60 in 7.1 seconds is in no way underpowered. The 8AR-FTS is a brilliant engine in terms of giving you power when you need it and then settling into an off-boost, pseudo-Atkinson-cycle mode when you don’t. I’ll also add that that Terrain could be optioned with a 300-hp V6.

      I agree about the NX’s suspension’s being too hard. This could be a “no free lunch” issue in terms of making it high but also mitigating body lean. It also seems that none of them are optioned with the 17-inch wheels that theoretically are available. An extra 0.5″ to 1.5″ of sidewall probably would help the examples equipped with 18s, 19s, or 20s.

      I partially agree about the interior. The A-pillar seems very intrusive, although the front row is a comfortable place to be. It’s a bit Taurus-like, in that there’s actually more room than there seems to be. The NX’s 2nd-row is very comfortable, assuming there’s not a middle passenger. It’s a great layout if you’re carrying three or four passengers with any frequency.

  • avatar
    craiger

    After owning a 3.0 E39 and a 987 Cayman S, and now owning nothing (except my Daytona 675) I don’t much think about what’s on the market today.

    But, I’ll do my best to answer the question.

    Most customers will demand grace, space, and pace.

    And cup holders.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    The “Minibus”, a four-row bus with the rear two bench seats able to fold into the floor so you can haul your family AND a 4×8 sheet of plywood. It’ll be the size of my Suburban, but built on a stretched Dodge Magnum chassis and stretched upwards to the height of a CUV.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Part of me thinks we’ll eventually see similarly-styled pods that will differ only in what features are inside. Seems fewer and fewer people drive for the joy of driving and I’d think that will only grow as a trend in the years/decades to come. Size will be pretty much in line with mid-size SUVs to assure the family can carry parents, kids and the pup. If we’re lucky, that will leave the possibility of having a “fun” vehicle, but fear that we’ll only be allowed to use them on closed-circuit roads.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I personally think we are already back in, or rapidly approaching the next golden age of the wagon. What are we really talking about when we talk about crossovers? They are hatchbacks and wagons with taller roof lines, added ground clearance, optional AWD. As crossovers take over the world, they will diversify. Some will resemble minivans, some rugged SUVs and others will opt to the other direction…..lighter, lower, more car like…..more…gulp…wagon like. Wagons are already selling by the boatload, we are just calling them crossovers.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I was thinking about this the other day, in fact. I often drive my aging parents around, more so in the past month because my 77 year old father broke his ankle and can’t drive. This is only going to be more frequent for me and for many Americans since our population is aging.

    My family truckster/winter driver is a 2002 Taurus wagon, not fun, but cheap to run and roomy. It was a lucky Craigslist find a few years ago and still only has 50k miles on it.

    More pertinent now, it is also really easy for my parents to get in and out of. The wheelchair fits into the rear easily, too. Frankly, if I had an SUV or even many CUVs, the high hip point could really be an issue for my parents.

    So, as I think about my next vehicle, I’m thinking a minivan (my own two boys are getting bigger) and it would be easy for my parents. Plus, the big rear hatch is easy for loading a wheelchair without the high lift of an SUV or the wrangling of a sedan trunk opening. If they ever release the new Pacifica Hybrid to the public I am really curious about it. I am also curious about the new Buick Regal wagon… the Golf is just a bit smaller than I want but the available manual trans gives me some hope.

    Anyway, I think we’ll see more wagons in the future and minivans will continue to get a bit more stylish and interesting as with the Pacifica and new Odyssey.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    Soon, some manufacturer will wise up to the fact that pickup buyers fall into 2 groups. Urban Cowboys and Real Cowboys (or others who really use their truck daily to haul stuff… heavy stuff). Some manufacturer will build a throwback 60s-style half-ton pickup truck with a MUCH lower lift instead of whatever today’s beasts require (so high, they need a step).

    Trucks are just tools to working men, and whichever does the job best is what they want. Some manufacturer will recognize this and get a LOT of conquest sales till the others copy the idea.

    Let the wanna-be’s drive their pickups that look like a big honkin’ Mack semi… there’s a market for a real, low-step working pickup that is being ignored.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I think the upcoming Hyundai pickup truck may quench your thirst. Subaru would make a killing in this area as well, as long as it looks nothing like the Subaru Baja….

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Had Subaru kept the Baja in production one more year, I may well have been driving one these last 9 years. As it is…

        Personally, I’d like to see that Hyundai come to market.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The current form factor won’t significantly much unless CAFE does too. Consider that to a certain degree, the manufacturer’s wag the consumer when it comes to product focus and innovation, thus driving more customers into given products that manufacturers would prefer they buy. CUVs/SUVs are being refreshed at faster rates than cars, and have been for nearly a decade since it became evident the CAFE rules were changing. For example, since 2011, minivans don’t qualify as trucks under CAFE anymore.

    CUVs/SUVs have a lower CAFE bar to get over – less fines, less cost of sale to the mfg.
    CUVs/SUVs have capacity for more marketable content than cars or minivans – high penetration of 4WD/AWD systems, cargo/entertainment features, lifestyle features
    Faster product refreshes plus more marketable content = higher transaction prices and if played right, higher margins.

    To a large degree, consumers want CUVs/SUVs because manufacturers want them to want them.

  • avatar
    George B

    What’s mostly missing in the current vehicle market are car-based CUVs with relatively square masculine truck-like styling. Far too many adopt the general rounded shape of the Lexus RX 350. The main mass market CUV acceptable to men is the Ford Explorer. I predict that CUV styling will evolve toward the SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I predict you are wrong. The main driver of CUV sales are women. Single men don’t really buy them, married men do what they are told.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        We just bought a big ole CUV and I was the motivation behind the purchase. Yep a big curvy marshmallow of a car.

        Why? I don’t care what you think about my purchase and I don’t care if you think that reflects on me. ;)

        What I wanted was a big ole family car that gets reasonable fuel economy, was quiet and comfortable on the highway, and can deal with low traction situations without drama. In other words safe enough to haul my family, safe enough to send my wife out in. Still capable of hauling seven, tows a fair bit occasionally, works well as a station wagon, etc.

        If I needed a 4WD or pickup or something to haul rocks – I would buy a an aged appearance challenged truck.

        Who buys a $50K vehicle and proceeds to tear it up?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          All the market research says you are the exception. Women are largely the drivers (literally and figuratively) of the CUV craze. There have been several postings here about it the last few years, and it sure matches the reality of all my married friends. Poor b@stards.

          I personally don’t give the first sh!t what you drive. Enjoy it, whatever it is, if it works for you.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    They will embrace big, comfortable coupes, sedans and wagons powered by electricity and once again offering unique styles and designs such as we saw in the 50s and 60s.

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    Unlike you trendy metrosexuals, some of us drive crossovers because we need a crossover.
    Or do you have a suggestion for a non-crossover that will haul me, my wife, luggage, bikes, and 4 dogs on 9 hour high speed trips in comfort and with some degree of handling safety, that will also tow a tractor when needed?

    Wagon? Sedan?

    I drove pickups daily for 30 years. I’m tired of them. When they start making large good looking luxury wagons that tow 4500 lbs, let me know. Till then try another tact besides “they’re trendy”.

    BMW X5 SAV. I bet I can outrun you in whatever claptrap you’re able to afford as a “writer”.


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