By on October 8, 2014

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“When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed

So why is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a crossover, and a Porsche Macan is a crossover, but something like a Mazda3 Sport is a hatchback?

Well, two reasons

  1. CAFE
  2. Calling something a crossover makes it sell. Calling it a wagon or a hatchback does the opposite.

This, of course, is the opposite of what happens in the strange, insular world of automotive enthusiasm. There is a reflexive hatred of anything CUV, even when the CUV in question, like the Mazda CX-5, drives better than some passenger cars. Or witness the gnashing of teeth that accompanied the Audi Allroad’s rise and the death of the Audi A4 Avant. Both vehicles drive like lifeless appliances for those who think a Toyota Venza is beneath their station in life. But the Allroad attracted the scorn of countless forum posters, even though the two cars are basically the same, minus some cladding and a raised ride height that has zero effect on handling dynamics.

2015-Mazda3-Manual-03

As tempting as it is to rail against the ill-informed knee-jerk disdain for crossovers, I’ll bring it back to the original question. What is the tangible difference between the GLA “crossover” and the Mazda3 Sport “hatchback”? Why does one raise the ire of enthusiasts merely by virtue of its classification (a discrete criticism on its own, rather than being lumped in with the idea of a front-drive, entry level Benz) while an identical car is lauded with Hossanas for carrying to hatchback/pseudo-wagon torch.

Over to you, B&B.

Photo Credit: Alex Nunez/Road & Track

*For the record, I think the base GLA is a cheap, nasty looking thing designed to fleece the terminally self-conscious out of their $299 each month. I’d take the Mazda3 all day, every day. But the 345 horsepower GLA45 AMG? Well, that’s another story.

**As far as the CUV hatred phenomenon goes:  You might think they are the worst attributes of an SUV and a car combined in one, but millions of Americans couldn’t care less, and have very rational reasons for buying them, nor are they in the grip of some false consciousness and in need of a vanguard to liberate their minds from the shackles of automotive marketing. Get over it, or start buying new station wagons in meaningful numbers again.

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200 Comments on “Question Of The Day: The Narcissism Of Small Differences...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Ground clearance, a crossover has more then a hatchback. Now you know

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      +1. People in the North believe that ground clearance will help them drive in the snow.

      Now a rational person might point out that if there is more than 6 inches of snow on the ground, heading out to Krogers in your CR-V to buy extra milk may not be the smartest move.

      An enthusiast might point out that for what you pay for AWD, you could get a very nice set of mounted Blizzaks that would actually help you stop and steer in winter weather.

      But none of that matters. Ground clearance is what separates a best selling $30K crossover from an unpopular $20K hatchback.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Gosh you used Krogers as a plural. You must not live far, or have originated from, Cincinnati.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Gawd, yes. Every winter I pass stranded SUVs and CUVs in my FWD Sable wagon, the drivers of which foolishly believed that ground clearance and AWD gave them license to ignore the physics of snow and ice covered roads. While the ride height provides a slightly better driving position and ease of entry/exit, the styling inevitably reduces carrying capacity.

        It’s also true that hatchbacks are no longer offered in anything larger than a compact. Mid-size and above with 5 doors are exclusively CUV style, much to my dismay. I would be happy to be able to replace my Sable with a Camcordonata when the time comes but a Mazda 3 hatch is probably the best I’ll be able to do (pricey German wagons are not going to make the cut).

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          How about a pricey German hatch? Audi A7 and BMW 428i and 435i Gran Coupes await you, or if you like fugly, there are the 3 and 5 GTs. Those last two get dangerously close to CUV territory with their elevated seating.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Or if you don’t want to shell out for premium German, there is the Honda CrossTour.

        • 0 avatar

          Rear drive, snows = AWD, all seasons
          FWD, snows, beats both.
          RWD + snows passes the AWD guy and the FWD guy with all seasons all winter.

          I have more fun too !

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            AWD + snows at all four corners = See ya…

            You guys who think just because a car has AWD that it somehow excludes them from buying snow tires really make me laugh, then ticks me off ’cause you think we’re as dumb as you are

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @LieToMe

            I run snows on my Range Rover. There are MAYBE 10% of us who are smart enough to do this on AWD vehicles. Or any vehicle. Just walk around any parking lot in the winter and look. I am probably being generous.

            The problem is that the other 90% thinks that AWD is a substitute for proper tires in the winter. And AWD is great for giving you a sense of false confidence in the snow. Which is why EVERY storm around here, 90% of the vehicles in the ditch are AWD. The first storm of the year is especially fun to watch.

            I will also say that until the snow gets too deep, my RWD BMW on snows is the better winter vehicle than the Range Rover on snows. And here on the Maine coast, once you are out of your driveway snow depth is never an issue. It may not accelerate as well, but it stops and turns hugely better for the simple reason that it is 1000lbs+ lighter. Physics at work. The BMW is also better in snow than my previous FWD Saab – and they have the exact same winter tires. 48:52 F-R weight distribution vs. 60:40. The BMW turns better and stops better with its better weight distribution, and accelerates just as well. Better uphill. Not all RWD cars are nose-heavy pigs.

            A snow tire shod Audi Quattro would be better than either, of course, but why would I want to drag all that extra equipment around the 355 days I year I don’t need it? The Rover has other uses for its AWD.

            People seem to have this pathological fear of getting stuck in the snow, but being able to stop and turn is far more important than being able to go.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “A snow tire shod Audi Quattro would be better than either, of course, but why would I want to drag all that extra equipment around the 355 days I year I don’t need it? The Rover has other uses for its AWD.”

            I’ve always heard that the Quattro’s AWD system adds to the driving experience 24/7/365, was I misinformed? Even the 4WD system on my lowly Escape contributes to the driving dynamic by sending up to 50% of it’s power and torque to the rear wheels when accelerating from a dead stop on dry pavement. A feature I like, AWD isn’t always just about off-road and snow

            Oh, and I doubt if I’ll ever be part of the 1%, but I’m glad I’m part of the 10% that puts snows on his AWD crossover

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            AWD on dry pavement can be helpful if you are driving a car with more HP than 2 wheels can manage certainly. But if that is the case, please don’t drive like that on a public road, get it to a track. Ultimately it depends entirely on how the vehicle is setup. Some AWD versions are better, some are worse, on dry (or even wet) pavement driven sanely it doesn’t make much difference, but it always costs more money.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Oh, I doubt my 240HP V6 will get me in much trouble, but the occasional whomp on the peddle feels good as the nose pops up a bit as the rears dig in, reminiscent of those old RWD V8s I had. (I have a RWD V8 Seville, but I wouldn’t dare “whomp” on it)

      • 0 avatar

        I grew up in a rural snowbelt area in Canada, driving various forms of FWD cars (mostly Accords) and I can tell you that, without a doubt, ground clearance DOES help people to drive through snow. Period. Fact. I’m sorry, that’s how it is.

        Of course, good winter tires, combined with AWD are also beneficial, and people use a combination of those various attributes. My family, for example, used good winter tires (and frequent tire alignment checks…it makes a big difference) on FWD cars, but we got stuck in our long laneway at least once a season and the reason was always that the car had too much snow built up underneath it. But we stuck with that setup, preferring the efficiency of a smaller FWD wagon/sedan/hatchback the rest of the year over the cost of getting stuck a few times and playing Canadian snowlette with the driveway everyday.

        I was the first in the family to buy an AWD ‘crossover’ (Subaru Outback) when I was 23, and it proved, mostly through better ground clearance, that it was a better tool in snowy environments. It wasn’t deemed useful enough to keep for that reason alone (fuel economy, not as reliable, etc.), but that was what we found.

        People buy crossovers because they make sense in a lot of ways: They aren’t physically larger, but they can carry more stuff than a sedan; they are easier to get into; for a slight premium, they permit an increase in ground clearance which is beneficial in both snow and in urban environments (just look at all the SAABs and Audis with damaged front overhangs to confirm this); and if you don’t opt for AWD, the fuel hit is often marginal.

        Give the people some credit, CUVs DO make sense.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Thank you, I live in the snowbelt and you can argue all day long that a jacked-up wagon with AWD makes no difference in snow, I’ll just smile and nod and drive my jacked-up AWD wagon anywhere I want to go without incident

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            I’ve lived near Lake Michigan all my life. I’ve driven thru all manner of significant snow and ice conditions and I’ve not had any problems getting around since my first FWD car. Save for a handful of times that I wisely chose not to venture out, I’ve never been hampered by the lack of AWD and extra ground clearance, and more times than I can count I’ve driven moderately on expressways passing SUV after CUV that left the road and got stuck in the ditch. And my wagon has more useful carrying capacity than most SUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Save for a handful of times that I wisely chose not to venture out, I’ve never been hampered by the lack of AWD”

            Glad you have the luxury of a choice, some of us don’t and that’s why we choose AWD jacked-up wagons. Stay snug and warm while we keep your infrastructure humming along

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            Lie2me, our difference here is where we live. I’ve lived in urban/suburban areas that actually get plowed (eventually), while I see that you’re in rural WI where I expect plows are less frequent. If I lived in a more remote area, AWD and GC would be a priority, but most SUVs/CUVs sold are driven in the same conditions that I face. Those features are not only more of a style choice than a necessity, far too many of those drivers get a false sense of capability due to those features.

            And, yes, if someone is one of those modest number of folks whose work cannot be deferred or done remotely, AWD and GC make sense. But I find that most SUV/CUV drivers around me are just regular people that could wait an hour until the roads are cleared.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            My auto preferences don’t matter where I live. You have the right to drive whatever you want without any judgement from me and so do I and everyone else without any judgement from you. Drive what you want and can afford and be happy, I’ll do the same

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It’s not the jacked up, it’s the AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            frozenman

            So true, many municipalities are now too cheap to plow the snow in residential areas in a timely manner. This results in a deep packed snow layer that is ok to drive on till it softens during a warm spell, then the ruts are so deep you have to contact the city and beg to have the road in front of your drive cleared! Ground clearance matters now more than in the past IMHO because cities are trimming their snow removal budgets.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        What they don’t tell you in church is that 6 inches of snow packs nicely, and that you’ll be driving on top of it unless the temperature is in the -2 to -5C range. Then it’ll be slippery slushy ice, that isn’t quite watery enough to let your tires find the road, and not quite icy enough to pack into a stable surface. It also has a really nasty tendency to build up in your wheel wells and chassis. It’s not unheard of that if you don’t have sufficient momentum to knock this slushy ice off, you’ll pack the slush under your car into a ramp with the road and actually lift your vehicle off the road entirely. If this happens, you’ll be needing a tow.

        A centimetre or two of extra ground clearance is less important than momentum, an understanding of Newton’s laws of motion, and a good set of winter tires.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “Ground clearance is less important than momentum and a good set of winter tires.”

          Ha, ha, and where are you going to get this “momentum” if you’re stuck past the doorsills in snow? You can’t get going unless you can get started

          • 0 avatar
            koshchei

            Couple of problems with your thinking:

            1) Fresh snow doesn’t magically appear under your car’s tires unless you’ve moved it already. Protip: snow comes from the sky. Protip 2: if it’s below -10 or so, the snow will be nice and fluffy and you can just drive through it.

            2) You’ve used the word “stuck”. If you’re stuck before you start, you have two choices: start shovelling or stay home.

            Where I live, the only vehicle you can possibly get moving without a bit of manual labour after a good blizzard is a 4×4, and even then you’d be an idiot not to shovel (the plow will be along eventually, and if you haven’t moved the snow, you’re looking at a hard-packed 3 to 4 foot wall in front of your driveway — I dare you to try ramming it).

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Drive your FWD Cutlass Ciera until the wheels fall off, I don’t care, in my muddy-road snow-covered corner of the world I know what works

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            All reading this conversation has done is thoroughly convince me that I am glad that I live in the South. I think I am happy where I am :)

            My grandfather was right, “snow” is a dirty four letter word.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’m glad you’re happy, but after living 25 years in Atlanta all I can say is you can have your 9/90/90 (9 months, 90 degrees @ 90% humidity)

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “Ground clearance is less important than momentum and a good set of winter tires.”

            I have to laugh at that comment too.

            It all depends on how much snow you have and how wet it is.

            The beginning of winter last year I went out in the back country to check out the area my son’s Boy Scout troop was going to do a winter camp. The snow was at least 16 inches deep. It wasn’t wet snow but it was an early snow fall.
            You boys in your front drive cars with good snow tires would of made it 100 meters before you ground to a halt or broke your nose section off.

            You will climb on top of the snow BUT you will high centre on your belly. I’ve seen that happen multiple times in my life.

            Ground clearance helps just like having limited slip diffs, 4×4/AWD, and good winter tires.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Ground clearance does help a lot in fresh snow, and it also keeps you from cracking your spoiler in hard snow.

        That being said, the real reason that ground clearance is such a big sales tool is that it’s more comfortable. You sit-up straighter, you don’t have to lean down so much to get in, and the load height in the back is more natural.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I now assert my argument that MANY of these CUV’s don’t have an appreciably greater ground clearance than sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Many of these CUVs do not have a lowest point* that is appreciably higher than the lowest point of a sedan, but dragging a diff or lower control arm through the snow isn’t a big deal. The bulk of the body is farther off the ground than on a sedan, and how you get stuck in snow is when the whole body is resting on top of the snow and the wheels are unweighted and thus tractionless. It’s less of an issue with CUVs than with cars, generally speaking.

            *how ground clearance is measured, to the lowest point.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “I now assert my argument that MANY of these CUV’s don’t have an appreciably greater ground clearance than sedans.”

            Your argument is just conjecture without proof. Two inches can mean the difference between a happy camper and a punctured oilpan

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            That’s probably true on some of the newer ones, but my Tribute (made during the Glorious First Age) has just as much clearance as the BOF compact Explorer whose spot in the market it took when said Explorer upsized in ’03.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CoreyDL

            Exactly this. An inch doesn’t make a hill of beans difference. If you want to go in DEEP snow, you need a truck with real ground clearance, not a butched-up station wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @krhodes1

            I have to play devils advocate. I took a Z-body Saturn sedan through six or seven inches of fresh snow in 2010 in order to get home one night, it can be done. Now can the avg driver pull this off in their jacked up hatchback? Perhaps not.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @lie2me

            Referring to crossovers which have not even an inch advantage over a sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @Corey, you still haven’t given me an example

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You didn’t ask for an example.

            Infiniti EX/QX50

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @Corey

            The Infiniti EX/QX50 was the ONLY one I could think of too

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Forester XT owner with 8.7 inches of glorious ground clearance here.

            It really is very helpful, not only in the snow, but also on horrible Forest Service roads which are the best way to the good hiking but which haven’t seen good maintenance since the first of many budget cuts happened during the Bush 41 administration.

            By contrast my G8 GXP (with totally stock suspension) has less than four inches of ground clearance at its lowest point directly behind the front wheels and has been high-centered on irregular driveways in hilly Seattle twice, fortunately with no damage to anything but a heat shield.

  • avatar
    darrinkaiser

    If that’s your convicted answer Lie2me, then I believe you’ve proven Mr. Kreindler’s point.

    So then where do we draw the ground clearance line for crossovers, so we all know? Maybe 6.7 inches?

    Which I’m joking, cause I could not care less, and if you really have an opinion on it, I don’t care about slaves to marketing.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The small difference aren’t really that small regarding vehicle comfort or performance. Ground clearance, approach, breakover, and departure angles make a big difference when you leave paved surfaces. Seat height, seating position, hip room, headroom, etc. have a significant effect on comfort, especially for people who spend extended periods of time in their vehicles.

    Sure, some manufacturers abuse the CUV moniker to con gullible customers into buying new models, but most of the top-selling CUVs are much different than their hatchback relatives. CUVs are usually bigger, taller, and have upright seating with step-in seat height.

    I suppose everyone has their own thoughts on the matter. Personally, I loathe CUVs as frivolous engineering compromise for the sake of engineering compromise. CUVs are perfect for a demographic of people who want decent fuel economy but still want to cling to the SUV boom of yesteryear. However, I see a CUV(?) like the Subaru XV, and I think it’s genius. They’ve put a lift and body kit on an Impreza, which saves me thousands of dollars compared to the purpose built soft-roaders manufactured by Honda, Toyota or Chevrolet. The Impreza modifications also create the appearance of rally lineage in the Subaru XV.

    Is it vain to appreciate the pragmatism of Subaru engineers? or am I vain because I like idea of rally-style CUVs? Dunno. It’s all relative, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The XV is marketing genius – jack up a regular wagon, give it some body cladding and charge more. Does the XV do anything at all better than an Impreza hatchback? Not a damn thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        It clears a 6″ log much better

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          I cannot not ask.
          Where are you driving to work where there are duralog sized wood chunks peppered about the roadway?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Rural Wisconsin, next question

          • 0 avatar
            1998redwagon

            rural minnesota same.

            ground clearance matters.

            so does awd.

            so do winter tires.

            my wife has the car that allows us to get out when necessary (flex awd w/snows) but it is no where near as good as our old escape vehicle (jeep cherokee). the ground clearance the major diff.

            lie2me keep talking truth to fiction

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            If you guys live in an area rural enough that you get frequent logs in you’re way, I would assume a BOF truck or SUV would be the vehicle of choice in your neighberhood, and not a Mercedes GLA or Subaru XV.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @MBella, Good point, but like anyone else who had a SUV and drives 30K+ miles a year SUVs that get 12-13mpg can be a financial disaster. Compromises must be made, enter CUVs with their 20+ mpg and you’ll soon understand why they were developed and why they’re so wildly popular. All of this before we even begin to talk about the vastly improved driving characteristics of the CUV over the SUV

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Rutted dirt roads favor ground clearance. Unhappy mid drive blowing snow drifts when stopping means freezing favor ground clearance. Getting a shovel in front of the rear wheels favors ground clearance. When I spent three years in Idaho Falls, I drove lowered RWD cars with modified V8’s. I had problems. Sometimes I took a bus. Sometimes I bummed a ride in a truck. But in the summer I could lift the fronts on either car, so it was worth it. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t being dumb, just that I was enjoying it.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      To begin with, the price jump isn’t much: To get an Impreza with the same features of note (Heated seats and the roof rails, and we use both), its a “Sport Premium” which is just about $1.2k less. Since you also get admittedly cool/ugly body cladding and nicer looking wheels, at a minimum you can think of the XV as a $1.2K cosmetic package, which is hardly out of place in the modern car world.

      Secondly, that ground clearance works. The GF has one, and I’ve taken it on some pretty knarly ranch roads, roads where I would certainly not take a standard Impreza, where its not just the ground clearance but approach & departure angle which are improved by the higher suspension.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’ve grown fond of the XV, especially as my daughter heads toward her license. The tires/wheels seem a little overblown to me though…

        After a year of ownership, I greatly enjoy my Outback – a tall station wagon with 8+” of ground clearance. We don’t get snow, but on a trail or beach, or on rain-slicked roads, my car is awesomely sure footed.

        Would FWD have done the same thing? Nearly so I would guess. But I’m hooked on AWD….

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Honda charges more for the CRV because it can

      And you wanting a “rally lineage appearance” is way sillier than the actual reasons people buy CUVs. Biggest one being ease of entry, especially with kids in child seats, followed by a feeling of security from being higher up in a bigger vehicle, followed by more trunk space than a sedan OR hatchback and easier loading. All of which are way more legit than your “rally vanity” lmao.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      “Seat height, seating position, hip room, headroom, etc. have a significant effect on comfort, especially for people who spend extended periods of time in their vehicles.”

      Boy, have I found this out lately — I injured my knee a couple of weeks ago, and the low seat height of my car is a primary reason I can’t drive it at the moment.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    For me, the primary advantage of a CUV is higher seating. Easier to put the kids in the car seats and easier to load/unload things without bending down. You can get them with decent power and suspension that make driving them somewhat enjoyable for the 15% of the time you don’t have kids with you. They don’t have the stigma of the much more useable minivan.

    Also, better driving experience and fuel economy (and less room) than a traditional SUV. There are a couple of CUVs that will out handle many sporty sedans despite being higher – at the expense of ride quality.

    I would not own a CUV if I didn’t have little kids.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      I have a small child. Still won’t own one.

      I don’t like the fuel economy penalty and cog penalty that the raised ride height and less aerodynamic styling of the crossover brings.

      Plus I just think they look really damn ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      AlfaRomasochist

      I have small kids, and a 3-row crossover (CX-9), and it’s a major pain to load kids in and out of compared to the minivan we used to have.

      Which is a big reason our Volvo wagon with the way-back seat has become our go-to schlepping around town vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I also own a CX-9 and I’ve also had a Volvo V70 (just a GLT though). I can attest to the ass-painery of having a flock of kids and trying to get any of them into the 3rd row with car seats in the second. It’s either you slide the 2nd row forward (but don’t fold forward) and play pretzel to get someone into the 3rd row, or stuff them in through the rear hatch if one of the seats is folded forward. In short, it sucks, I am so ready to get rid of this thing.
        The Volvo was far more civilized but I wasn’t too keen on putting the kids in the 3rd row since they were all much younger then. Maybe I’d put the big one back there now for a ’round towner. After reading yesterday’s AMA, I’m DAMN tempted to go find an R and just tell the three to get cozy in the 2nd row.
        BTW, check your trasnfer case for leaks, when (not if) it does leak you get a FWD CX-9 for the price of a Grand Touring. Ask me how I know.

  • avatar
    ajla

    No one hates the CX5. Or the Flex. Or the FX45. Or the Sportage. Or any number of other crossovers. I think you largely overstate the pervasiveness of “CUV hate”.

    My knees aren’t shot and I don’t have children so it is unlikey I will be buying one but I don’t hate them.

    The wagon mafia seems to have a problem with them but they have problems with lots of things.

    What I think enthusiasts more universally don’t like are cheap/disposable Mercedes vehicles and automakers using legacy SUV names on a completely different vehicle class.

    • 0 avatar
      Eiriksmal

      Good point. The AWD FX50 (sequel to the FX45 with a stonking 390 HP 5.0L V8) moves like a scalded cat. 21″ wheels, nearly 4600 lbs, but can pull 0.85g on the skidpad, then do 0-60 MPH in ~5.6 seconds on its way to a 13.7 second quarter mile.

      Holy craps. If the CR-V and Rav4 could turn numbers like that, maybe people would be singing a different tune.

      Alas, I don’t think Honda even knows how to make a V8, let alone one with 400 horsepower!, and Toyota only offers something comparable in the top-of-the-range LS600, only. I can’t see a Lexus RX ever packing a V8, or even a blown V6 that pushes out more than 300 HP.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        The FX50 is a Z in a fat suit with a bigger engine. The others are still compact cars wearing fat suits and in many cases, sharing the same engines as the compacts they are based upon.

        A wolf in sheep’s clothing should not be compared to sheep.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Honda can build V8’s , they just don’t want ‘us’ to have one :P
        Let’s quote wikipedia ;
        ‘Honda also came to the IRL in 2003, and by 2005 was clearly the dominant engine manufacturer. Starting in 2006, they became the only engine manufacturer in the IndyCar Series, and continued in that capacity through 2011’
        ‘During that time, since the IndyCar Series had only one engine manufacturer, Honda focused on minimizing engine failure and minimizing costs instead of defeating rivals. As such, the engines were moderately de-tuned. The engines proved themselves to be quite durable—there had been no engine failures at Indy from 2006 to 2010, which also lowered the number of crashes. ‘

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    It’s a great question, and one that I’ve been pondering after seeing the Macan and the GLA at the New Yawk Intuhnashionul Audo Show.

    – Cladding and “dead cat space” above the wheels seems to convince shoppers, particularly females, that it’s a “crossover” rather than an economy car that is fundamentally parked adjacent to it. I noticed this with the Subaru XV. In the past, I saw this with the Volvo XC70 and the Audi Allroad. Go ahead, say I’m “sexist” but if you hang out at the auto show and watch people, rather than look at the cars, this is exactly what you see.

    – Let’s be honest here. In the US, we are a nation of fatties. Fatties have a difficult time sitting down in a car. It’s a lot easier for a fatty to scooch himself or herself sideways into a seat, or even up an inch. When it comes to egress of the vehicle, the typical fatty has gravity working for him or her. Go ahead, say I’m a “sizeist,” but if you go to an autoshow and watch the people, rather than the cars, this is exactly what you’ll observe.

    – Then there’s that whole thing about being “UP” in a SUV, Minivan or CUV and being able to see. A friend of mine, who is not fat, recently posted on the face tube that she and her husband (also not fat) were looking for a new car. They posted a photo of a Mazda 6 and a Mazda CX5. The response? Get the CX5 because it’s higher up and they could see out better. The blindspot behind them, along with their friends, was not a concern. Yes, I know this is not completely scientific, but it sure takes the obesity factor out of the “which do you prefer?” question.

    Fundamentally, the CX5 and the Mazda3 are comparable. It’s just that one is on stilts, and since that’s what most Americans want, Mazda can charge more for it.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I think the difference is probably about $5,000 on average. This approximately what calling it a “crossover” allows the manufacturer to charge extra over what they would charge for the car as a “hatchback” or “wagon.” Some are less… certainly Subaru’s price increase for an “Outback” vs. a Legacy Wagon wasn’t that high originally. But that bit of branding made Subaru a real player where they had previously been more of a niche brand like Mazda. Mazda charges about $3k more for a CX-5 vs. a Mazda3 5-door in base trim. Essentially the same engine and FWD with a bit more mass, different styling, and a higher seating position.

    Now that I live in the snow belt (having recently moved from California to Michigan) the availability of all wheel drive is more of a consideration. My cynicism is mostly over 2wd crossovers costing a ton more than an equivalent wagon… I would tend toward the wagon or hatchback version in this case. But once a need (strike that… “desire” is more accurate) for AWD is tossed into the equation it gets stickier. One of the few affordable AWD hatchbacks left seems to be the Subaru Impreza. Even then, their CrossTrek seems to be outselling the Impreza and it is essentially the same car with jacked up suspension and bigger tires for a couple of grand extra. Bottom line… I have no idea what the distinction is other than a marketing distinction.

    Out of curiosity, is it this distinction alone that decides whether the vehicle counts towards “car” or “truck” CAFE calculations?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    There are three letters which make all the difference.

    AWD

  • avatar
    B Buckner

    Derek – Your running theme of insulting “luxury car” buyers as being shallow fools does not reflect favorably on you as a writer. You come across as immature and resentful. This site attracts people who love to drive and read about cars. While status can be a factor in purchase decisions, so can handling, power, refinement and quality cabin materials. The market has spoken on the Venza, and its problems have nothing to do with the badge. You are young, but some of us older people have worked our butts off for decades and can finally afford a car that is satisfying and comfortable to drive. Why not back off on the insults?

    • 0 avatar

      I never said anything about luxury cars as a whole. Just the base GLA. Regarding the Venza, my argument was that raising the A4 Avant to make an Allroad did nothing to diminish its dynamics. Please read carefully.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I am not insinuating Derek means this, however I say most “luxury car” buyers are shallow fools because there is little luxury in most of the “entry” level and mid-level model offerings being sold today. They simply want to feel special and blow more money because they have it to spend and the automakers allow for this.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Shallow yes, fools no. It’s valid that something a little nicer (perceived or actual) can make you feel better about your purchase. I would say my “entry luxury” purchase is one of the least-differentiated from its more common bretheren on the market (TSX) but it also commands a pretty minimal premium (about $3k, EX-L to base TSX at market prices when I bought). For $3k, I can afford a little conceit. I don’t think this makes me a fool. Shallow I’ll give you.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          TSX though is an outlier as it is a unique model, at least in the US. Today’s entry level “luxury” car from Acura *is* a Civic. Lincoln’s is Fusion, Buick’s a Cruze, Cadillac’s a maligned and stillborn Pontiac, Lexus’ has Corolla underpinnnings. Sure in some of those examples things are “shared” and not duplicated with lesser marques but educated folks see through the veneer.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “educated folks see through the veneer.”

            Keep patting yourself on the back. Oftentimes that “veneer” includes a number of things not available on lesser models, like HID lights. Or folks just prefer looking at the veneer which looks a little nicer than the one at the bargain shop down the road.

            That you know components are shared does not mean you’re smarter than everyone else, it just means you prioritize differently. Some people are willing to pay $10 more to get $5 more stuff because it’s what they want.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the advice, I’m doing so now. I agree with you on options packages but this is only because OEMs need to purposely incentivize the higher model and its nothing new as GM did it for decades.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            What’s annoying is the arrogant snark of “if people only knew what I do, they’d see things the same way.” My mom buys a new ES350 every few years. She knows full well it’s a fancy Camry, because I’ve told her. You know how much she cares? Not at all. The extra $5-10k she pays over a loaded Camry for a loaded ES is dismissed with a wave of the hand because “this is the one I want, so it doesn’t matter.” If she wanted a more $$$ one, she’d buy that one instead, but she has a hangup about the $50k barrier for some reason.

            That’s how people who buys these cars think. It’s not how you think. Both are valid. Neither comes from a position of being a “fool”.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with your points.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            The Lexus ES serves an important niche of business-class frugal customers. It is the smart-money play for self-employed business people and traveling road-warriors who need to signal some status, but who need low operating costs to take full advantage of federal mileage “reimbursement” (more like tax exempt income). It’s perfect for the insurance agent who needs to suppress overhead, but who can’t offend his 1% clients with an excessively cheap vehicle. Once the ES was adopted by smart-money insiders, it became a staple of pragmatic, relatively-affluent employees. No other luxury vehicle fills the ES niche, though Acura tried to steal sales with the Suzy Orman campaign.

            B Buckner doesn’t seem to understand that other entry level luxury models, particularly the new CLA and GLA, are targeted directly at young audiences, and the advertising messaging is a relatively offensive blend of contrived adventure narrative and vainglorious vice. Gen Y is more skeptical of advertisers than other generations, according to studies, and it makes sense that Derek would mock bad branding and silly product development by the people at Mercedes.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The government has very strange rules that determine whether a vehicle is a car or a truck, which in the past has lead to the Dodge Neon being classified as a car while the PT Cruiser was classified as a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      That was definitely part of what sparked the CUV fire. Rules have now changed to make it much more difficult to classify a car-based CUV as a truck, but since the introduction of these CAFE-gamers consumers have found they really like them, whatever their reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @danio3834 – CAFE and emissions helped define what constituted a truck or car. Rules helped shape the truck and SUV market. As emissions got piled on cars in the 70’s and into the 80’s car companies went the BOF SUV route because they fit into the truck class. As emissions/mpg rules moved into the truck class pickups and SUV’s got bigger because that moved them out of the lighter emissions classes.
        Even the Japanese played the game. When VRA’s caped imports they imported minivans and SUV’s as pickups and took the hit on the chin from the chicken tax. When sales dropped and they had room in heir VRA’s, they had minivans and SUV’s reclassified as passenger vehicles. The US auto industry protested and it went through courts and the Japanese won.
        Now that emissions and MPG rules are effecting bigger vehicles we’ve seen a shift to smaller SUV’s and CUV’s.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I think these allegations of CUV hate are largely a straw man propped up for the sake of a convenient counter-argument. I like sports cars, muscle cars and pickemup trucks just as much as any one else, but I also have a CUV in my driveway. Your average person, and even average car enthusiast isn’t hostile and even realizes the practical benefits of spacious affordable vehicles. The internet has the ability to amplify the cries of a few who in no way represent a large swath of the community.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s not a strawman, in that such people do exist.

      But auto enthusiasts comprise a tiny percentage of the auto market.

      Enthusiasts who post comments on internet websites are a small percentage of the enthusiast pool.

      Enthusiasts who post comments on this particular website are an even smaller part of that already small pool.

      Some individuals who post online are in search of a sense of community. If they find a place where others share their views, then they may be attracted to it for the sense of affirmation that they find when others share their points of view and praise them for their common values.

      So for example, we end up with the small truck jihad who gather at places like this because they know that they will find some support and comfort here. The fact is that they represent a tiny sliver of the overall internet commentary about these things, which itself is already a small fraction of a minority. It’s a microcosm of a microcosm, not a factor in the real world.

      We know that crossovers are popular because many people buy them. That a few people on the internet are vocal opponents doesn’t make a bit of difference

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Exactly. It seems as if said microcosm is so small that it’s not even worth responding to.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          To further minimize this microcosmo, most of us internet-commenting-auto-enthusiast would never want to take the depreciation of a brand new car willingly either…we want a lightweight manual rwd reliable roomy stationwagon with dual a-arms front and back, in brown, and 3-7 years old,with a prefect service history.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I enjoy any CUV from the Glorious First Age, when they were basically boxy FWD, unibody SUVs that you could actually see out of and got 20 MPG. 1995-2005 Toyota RAV4, 1996-2006 Honda CR-V, 2001-10 Ford Escape et al., 1995-2010 Kia Sportage, etc. It seems the closest thing you can get to those today is either a Jeep Patriot or a Subaru Forester.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Speaking of small differences, I think Audi would have been better served to leave the A4 Avant the way it was, and not shrink the difference between it and Audi’s own Q5.

    Even if they widened the A4’s track, raising it 1.5 inches raises the roll center and you’re either going to get more roll, or you’ll increase roll stiffness and get more head-toss. Yes, Audi did the best they could to minimize those effects, but if there were no penalty to be paid for raising the ride height, ALL performance-slanted vehicles would have raised ride height.

    People like me thought that raising the ride height, widening the track, putting larger wheels and tires on it (all of which made it heavier), uglifying it with cladding and charging an extra four grand to do all that was several steps in the wrong direction…it wasn’t just a knee-jerk response. They killed the A4 Avant to make it into a CUV when they already HAD a CUV – that’s the problem.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    The CUVs have won. They’re easier to sit in for older, fatter, more physically decrepit people. Drivers can easily see over my sedan’s hood, but not the other way around. The Porsche Macan owner I talked to loves his car; and he’s got a 911 too. It’s over, and so is my enthusiasm for most autos.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My wife calls her 2005 Vibe a “crossover” I just smile and don’t argue.

    She would be horrified to be driving a “hatchback” or “wagon.”

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    The Audi A4 Avant hugs the road to point of hanging up on parking curbs or smacking road via potholes (sorry Audi, USA roads are not the Autobahn). The Allroad version doesn’t get hung up (rides like a truck, though). Still, Audi is seriously thinking of dumping the Allroad and bringing back the Avant for the USA.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “What is the tangible difference between the GLA “crossover” and the Mazda3 Sport “hatchback”?”

    One is a Mercedes, and one is a Mazda. Mazdas are mostly sales-proof in the US, and MBs are about the most aspirational brand available short of the uber-luxury class.

    “Why does one raise the ire of enthusiasts merely by virtue of its classification (a discrete criticism on its own, rather than being lumped in with the idea of a front-drive, entry level Benz) while an identical car is lauded with Hossanas for carrying to hatchback/pseudo-wagon torch”

    Has anyone really come out and said the GLA is a great car? I thought it was pretty widely acknowledged to be a cynical marketing exercise.

    There’s a point to be made here, but not with your chosen examples.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Is the GLA a great car? Probably not, but I have read European reviews that said that it was the best of the 3 cars on that platform (GLA, CLA and B-Class). It seems competitive with other premium “softroaders” (as they call them in Europe): X1, Tiguan, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The A-Class is also built on the platform. The GLA is basically a lifted version of the A. For the people that thought the CLA was expensive, look at the sticker prices of GLAs on dealer lots. I haven’t seen one lower than then the mid $40k range.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The fact that CUV’s sell so well proves that Americans really do want a hatchback but the word “hatchback” really is offensive to most Americans. The ride height of the CUV is proving popular world wide though.
    It’s worth noting that CUV’s often have a slightly altered body from the humble hatch they are derived from. The roof line is raised and they got a bit more back. Seats are raised meaning less space, front to back, is needed, freeing up utility space, and that is very handy.
    The formula is hard to argue with. Some enthusiasts have just not moved as fast as the motor industry ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “The fact that CUV’s sell so well proves that Americans really do want a hatchback but the word “hatchback” really is offensive to most Americans.”

      Where does the self-pity inherent in fans of hatches and wagons come from? Americans don’t give two craps if something is called a hatchback or a wagon or a CUV or an SUV or whatever.

      They want:
      -high seating position
      -decent mpg
      -all-weather capability (read: AWD)
      -usable back seat
      -usable trunk

      It so happens that a CUV/crossover is generally best at delivering those things. No one didn’t buy hatchbacks because they were called hatchbacks, people didn’t buy hatchbacks because they didn’t offer all of the things listed about that they wanted!

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        “Hatchback” is not offensive to most Americans (and I think using the term “offensive” is a little melodramatic anyway). At least in the Midwest, the term “hatchback” conjures up images of small, quick cars of varying build quality (depending on brand) that get good gas mileage and will probably kill you in an accident. The term “wagon” conjures up images of the Family Truckster or the ’91 Buick Roadmaster–a rolling anachronism so hopelessly out of touch with “trendy” modern times that it’s gone around so far as to become cool, then uncool again.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Absolutely not true- CUV vs Minivan plays the truth of this out. This conversation is about the smaller end of the CUV segment, but the larger end where CUVs have clearly displaced minivans even though minivans are equal or better than CUVs at everything on your list.

        “They want:
        -high seating position
        -decent mpg
        -all-weather capability (read: AWD)
        -usable back seat
        -usable trunk”

        Hatchbacks are identified with as starter cars. People want to prove that they’ve ‘arrived’ in some small measure asap.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          The problem with the discussion is “CUV” is anything from a CRV/RAV4 to an Acadia or GL63. I agree that if you need three rows of seats regularly, (you want to haul 5+ people regularly) that minivans are better. But I think a lot of people have 2 kids and want the option to haul their friends occasionally, in which case the extra benefit of a more accessible third row for someone else’s kid doesn’t outweigh their not wanting to drive a minivan. Also note only one minivan is available with AWD, and it’s expensive.

          At the smaller end of the market, I would argue that no one on the planet thinks the acquisition of a CRV/RAV4/Escape/Etc type trucklet means “you’ve arrived” to anyone. I think it’s just the most useful type of vehicle for most people, so they buy it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “I think it’s just the most useful type of vehicle for most people, so they buy it.”

            That pretty well sums up my reasons

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Which is more or less what I said. Delete high seating position and AWD and you have a hatchback. Most new / modern hatchbacks have a fairly high seating position any way and the AWD systems are lame so why else would Americans not buy them?

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    Grew up in Florida. Was sent to Misawa AB in northern Japan. Where they get over 100 inches of snow every year. Holy @#$&!
    Bought a Subaru Leone 4WD(not AWD). It was slightly lifted and came with Summer and Winter tires. Also owned a Toyota Corolla with front nose spoiler. When we got large amounts of snowfall, like 12-24 inches in a 24 hour period the ground clearance in the Subie made a difference. Can you get by in a normal FWD car on snowy roads. Absolutely. I did so this past winter in my Elantra GT. In fact my manual transmission did far better in the snow than my wife’s 2012 FWD CR-V. The traction control in that was absolutely useless in snow.

    I got by in Maryland for 8 years with a RWD Silverado and never had an issue. It’s the driver not the car.

    What you need to get by in winter driving in order of importance:
    1. Skill/Experience in snow driving.
    2. Good all weather or winter tires.
    3. AWD(yes it helps)
    4. Ground clearance. In most conditions not an issue but again it can help.

  • avatar

    I will never understand the CUV hate on auto-forums. The market has spoken and we can’t blame automakers for supplying a demand. CUVs may not handle as well but who cares anymore? They are easier to get in/get out, better visibility, easier to park (shorter length for the same interior volume) and marginally better on snow. They are both desired by consumers and profitable for automakers. A rare win-win. A Chevy Cruze is priced at $16,000. Add a few inches in ground clearance and height and you got an Equinox priced at at $23,000. The Encore and Scion xB have the same interior room. One of them has better fit-finish, is more reliable, cheaper by $5k and more fuel efficient. The other outsells it 3 to 1.

    I am all for better fuel economy and lower emissions, but with today’s efficiency improvements, there is not a significant penalty driving a crossover vs a sedan.

    If wagons weren’t so ugly we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Without CUV sales and their profits, we wouldn’t be having fun cars like the FR-S, Miata, 370Z, Camaro z28, Corvettes and CTS-Vs.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think CUVs are like obscenity – hard to define precisely, but you know one when you see one. They mostly annoy me as I see them as a rather cynical cash grab by the automakers. Brilliant marketing though. It especially chaps my ass when there are already nice wagon versions of a car, and they just are not sold here – see Cruze, Fusion, Focus, Mazda6, etc. Wouldn’t want to undermine those CUV profits, would we?

    As to some of Dereck’s points:

    People might start buying wagons again if there were actually any available that aren’t either too expensive for the average buyer (Germans other than VW) or pointlessly compromised for style (V60, CTS, Magnum when it existed. I find it hard to believe there is no market for ordinary wagons, other than the pure profit motive that most people WILL buy a CUV for more money. VW sells every Jetta Wagon they bother to import, despite it being a VW. Do you really think a proper Accord or Camry wagon would not sell today? I cannot imagine an Accord Wagon not outselling the steaming pile that is the Crosstour! Especially if you can get it with AWD.

    As to the dynamics – you are out of you mind if you think there is no penalty. Just the difference in ride height and weight between an e91 3-series with and without AWD is quite noticeable in its effect on the handling. When you raise the ride height, you can either accept worse handling or a worse ride. This is simple physics. Engineering magic can counter this, but at an added cost.

    Ultimately, there certainly ARE some people who need a jacked up vehicle – there always have been. But it is a tiny percentage of people in the US. Most of the population lives in places with decent roads by any rational standard. And 1/2 of the population lives where it rarely snows. So an awful lot of people are wasting money because marketers are brilliant at telling them what they need. I will say that part of this need is also because “cars” have been stupidly compromised for styling reasons. Wagon wheels with rubber band tires. Swoopy coupey styling such that you can’t get in and out of them easily. It is a perfect storm of stupidity all around these days.

    And having bought new $100K in wagons and hatches over the past 5-6 years, I like to think my opinion of this counts for something.

    And you kids need to get off my lawn!

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Another long post that misses the whole point of CUVs.

      See my list above of what people want. Implicit are 1) higher seating positon (wagon: FAIL) and 2) usable back seat (generally wagon: FAIL).

      Wagons are just sedans with bigger trunks. Most people run out of back seat room faster and more often than they run out of trunk room. A Focus, Jetta, Cruze, etc back seat is a complete penalty box, while a compact CUV back seat is generally not too bad, because you sit more upright so you need less horizontal space to fit a person.

      On the subjects of dynamics, sure, there’s a penalty, but if people usually drive at 3-4 tenths and the penalty kicks in at 6 tenths, there’s not a tangible one a buyer is going to care about.

      • 0 avatar
        Lampredi

        The whole “point” of CUVs is that they’re pointless. Now let’s just hope the market catches up with that soon…

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          +1

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “The whole “point” of CUVs is that they’re pointless”

          I’ve read so many debates about this on TTAC and I still don’t get where this perspective is coming from.

          For a stereotypical enthusiast, yes they are pointless for all the reasons krhodes describes. I myself would much rather have a Mazda6 wagon than a CX-5, for many of the reasons krhodes describes.

          However, for most consumers looking for a 2-row family vehicle, CUVs are kick-ass. You get a big backseat, lots of cargo space, AWD, a comfy ride height, and driving dynamics & fuel economy that put the old Explorers and Pathfinders that used to fill this role to absolute shame.

          All at an MSRP that is apparently palatable, though I personally find it too high.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I would be perfectly fine with CUVs as “an” alternative – the problem is that for profit reasons most makers have made them the “only” alternative, because people WILL pay more for what is effectively a station wagon on stilts. As a stockholder I can’t really blame them. As someone who actually enjoys driving (and who is a bit of a cheapskate) it rubs me the wrong way.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “I would be perfectly fine with CUVs as “an” alternative – the problem is that for profit reasons most makers have made them the “only” alternative, because people WILL pay more for what is effectively a station wagon on stilts. As a stockholder I can’t really blame them. As someone who actually enjoys driving (and who is a bit of a cheapskate) it rubs me the wrong way.”

            When manufacturers make wagons, they’re all but salesproof. Check out the TSX wagon. Now, why wouldn’t they want to bring that one out again? Oh, you can say because it wasn’t available with a stick or V6, but what was the most popular varient of the TSX sedan? 4cyl 5AT.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The TSX wagon was saleproof because it was an Acura. The TSX sedan was relatively saleproof too. Why would I pay BMW money for a smaller car with an ugly beak nose, an underwhelming engine, and a mandatory automatic? And not even the option of AWD, which is wanted by many people, rightly or wrongly.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            ” The TSX wagon was saleproof because it was an Acura. The TSX sedan was relatively saleproof too. Why would I pay BMW money for a smaller car with an ugly beak nose, an underwhelming engine, and a mandatory automatic? And not even the option of AWD, which is wanted by many people, rightly or wrongly.”

            BMW money? What sort of BMW are you getting for the $28k I paid for mine, pray tell? And mine included such fancy things as heated seats, leather, bluetooth, etc, all of which cost extra on a BMW.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            A base 320i is about $28-29K after discounts now. A 328i sedan was that money after discounts back in ’11 when I bought my wagon. Which had a base price similar to a TSX wagon, just a few grand more. Or you could get a CPO loaded 335i.

            As for what is standard vs. optional, I will take substance over tinsel any day. I like that I was able to order my car the way I wanted it. The Japanese one-size fits all method does not fit me.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            To all the “station wagon on stilts” comments, should one need a “station wagon on stilts” or maybe just want a “station wagon on stilts” what do you suggest? Apparently there are a lot of us who, for whatever reason, want a “station wagon on stilts” and the auto manufacturers have listened

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        S2K,
        Point 1 I agree with.

        I don’t agree with using compact sedans when comparing backseat space in Point 2. CUVs offer midsize sedan backseat space, use midsize sedan powertrains, and are priced higher than midsize sedans, so the reference point should be midsize sedans. In which case, an Accord, Fusion, Mazda6 wagon would offer no backseat legroom penalty.

        • 0 avatar
          eamiller

          Point #2 is absolutely correct. See Ford Focus vs. Escape (platform partners).

          Focus Sedan Length: 178.5 in
          Escape Length: 174.7 in

          The Escape splits the difference between the Focus hatch and sedan.

          Honda Civic Sedan: 177.3
          Honda CR-V: 178.3.

          What was your point again?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            eamiller,

            Do you believe the average consumer walks into a Ford dealership and decides between a Focus and Escape because they are platform mates or because they have memorized the length of the vehicle? Do you believe they even know they share the same platform?

            They shop on need, the vehicle’s ability to meet that need, and price. By those metrics an Escape is far more similar to a Fusion than a Focus for all the reasons I mentioned above that you ignored to post length measurements down to the inch.

            If I’m wrong on this, show me some proof, but I strongly suspect a midsize sedan is more likely to be cross-shopped against the CUV than a compact sedan is.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @S2k Chris

        There are the best part of 2 MILLION sales a year of mid-size sedans. Those buyers are obviously not looking for increased ride height or a bigger back seat. Some percentage of them probably would like a more useful amount of cargo room. Currently, if you want the cargo room, you are forced into a CUV/SUV, even if you don’t want or need the other attributes. Wagons and hatches were never a HUGE part of the market, but they were a part of the market.

        And ultimately, as in the case of the GLA, CUVs just get lower and lower every new model introduction. To me the only thing that makes a GLA a CUV is the silly butch styling. It’s the late 50’s early 60’s all over again.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Great post krhodes1.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Okay. You build a car with non-“stupid” styling, or convince an automaker to do so, and see how well it sells. We’ll wait.

      But yeah, the giant wheel/skinny tire thing needs to go.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The Accord isn’t too bad and the new TL is quite striking from a styling standpoint.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The Accord still has head-knocker back doors openings and a poorly arranged back seat. Because the roof slopes so much, the back seat has to be too low. Of course, a wagon version would fix both problems.

          Just one of the many reasons I have no use for a sedan. Or at least one smaller than an S-class.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            A Versa sedan has plenty of rear headroom. Your ability to rationalize your irrationality is pretty amazing. CUV drivers should only be allowed hatchbacks, but nothing smaller than an S-class is usable because you cant get into the back of a Honda Accord without bumping your head. LMAO!

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            As a CRV owner who would buy a stationwagon or large hatchback sedan, if one was available, I feel a need to be a little ‘devils advocate’ here. krhodes1 is correct in that manufacturers milk the CUV’s for what tey’re worth, partially by designing midsize sedans with sloping roofs, and partially by turning compact wagons (that we only get in Europe I guess) into useless fashion accessories.
            On the other hand, more and more of the CUV’s are turning into pure fashion acessories too (all the pemiums), but many of them are getting closer and closer to the ‘classic’ stationwagons (latest CRV, Forester etc.)
            The only way we can get stationwagons again, is by buying CUVs and complain about the handling and buy lowering kits and airbags in sufficient numbers for the manufacturers to take notice…

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The Versa sedan has plenty of rear headroom for the same reason that most modern sedans do – the rear seat is closer to the floor than it should be. And it still has a head knocking door cutout in the back. Compare an Accord or a Versa to something like a Volvo 940. The Volvo has a flat roof that doesn’t slope down like a coupe, thus the rear seat is HIGHER than the front seat while still giving lots of headroom. And a tall person can get in and out of the backseat without having to fold themselves in half, because the doors are square as well.

            I’m guessing you are not a tall person. I’m 6’2, with the torso length of someone who is more like 6’7″, and I am the SHORTEST person in my family of my generation, by a couple of inches.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      If people are only allowed to buy cars based on need, I hope you don’t drive anything bigger/faster/more luxurious than a Toyota Yaris or Nissan Versa.

      The hypocrisy of folks who worship at the altar of automotive frivolity decreeing that others only buy cars based on what they decree to be their needs is ridiculous. If it’s OK for me to drive a 350Z it’s OK for a mom to drive a CR-V. A much more rational case can be made for a CUV over a wagon than cars enthusiasts worship over anything. Why should anyone buy an Abarth 500 when a Yaris will address all the same “needs”?

      The self-righteousness of some auto enthusiasts is downright amazing and incredibly off-putting.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You can buy whatever the heck you want. I reserve the right to think you are an idiot, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

        My complaint is that I *cannot* buy what I want, because it is not available to buy, because manufacturers know that people will pay more for the other option. And it is a problem unique to the US for a variety of home-grown reasons. In most other countries, wagons, hatches, tall wagons, tall hatches, CUVs, SUVs, little minivans, huge minivans, sports cars, you name it, all manage to co-exist in the market. But here, not so much. As I am surprised PCH101 has not popped up to say, part of it is that Americans won’t pay prices that will support that sort of variety. Part of it is CAFE makes it highly advantageous to make as much of your production a “truck” as possible for a long time. And a big part of it is marketing so that you want to buy what the automakers want to sell you.

        But ultimately for the majority of Americans who don’t live in rural areas, who don’t live where it snows, and who do not have mobility issues, buying a CUV over a similar volume wagon (if such a thing actually existed anymore) strikes me as a bit dumb. They really are a holdover from the SUV fad, and it was a fad. Gas was cheap, everyone was using their houses as ATM machines, let’s all buy one of these cool new big and butch Explorers and Grand Cherokees and their ilk. To use to go to the Mall, because we are too cool for the minivan we actually need.

        I at least will freely concede I bought my Abarth purely as a toy. Just like some people buy motorcycles, boats, and rvs. My BMW is simply a nicely built car that is highly entertaining to drive that meets my everyday transportation needs and my wants for such esoterica as RWD and a manual transmission. It even gets quite good gas mileage. But I would never tell anyone I NEEDED a BMW wagon. I wanted it, and that is a big difference. And I would still rather walk than own a Camry. Life’s too short.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          If it’s of any consolation, we can’t buy ‘what we want’ here in Europe either anymore. There are no non-premium ‘large’ cars anymore after Ford and Opel decided to go chasing VW upwards to premiumdom :P
          No more basic rwd ‘Merkur Scorpios’ and ‘Cadillac Cateras’ for the ‘common man’ So now we are ‘all’ buying CUV’s too…
          (and yeah, life’s to short to drive VW’s and Toyotas, unless it’s a 2 liter Baja, or a 70’s Corolla or Celica Liftback of any sort)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Based on my last trip to Europe three years ago, “everyone” was buying entry-level German wagons. At least from Germany to Sweden and Finland. At least if they weren’t driving Saabs and Volvos, or something Golf-like. :-) Doesn’t Norway have an automarket that is a bit different from most other European countries?

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            Partially correct, at least three years ago. As I mentioned wagons are fashion accessories, so ‘everybody’ wants them (lso because most european sedans aren’t very good looking, and sedans are pretty useless anywway for one-car families), until they need a roomy car. And we hardly have any real minivans over here, so the ‘CUV-craze’ has started here too, but it’s not come as far as in the US yet (BMW alone offers 5 different CUV’s) . Over here people seem to prefer either ‘mini’-CUV’s or 7 seater CUV’s though, so the CRV ‘falls between two chairs’ as we say.
            And yeah, Norway is (by far) not really the place to live if you like cars and want a brand new one. But because of our relatively high income it’s heaven for people who bother to go on ebay and go through the beauracrazy to have a modified old car. + insanely high new car prices mean that even 10 year old cars are usually well taken care of.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Those other countries also have downright punitive taxes on things like displacement and fuel. Would you be down to drive a wagon if you had to pay $10/gallon for gas?

          And your opinion is irrelevant. You have a toy car and a wagon you outright claim you don’t need, and then get angry because people buy cars that fit their NEEDS but not your WANTS. And yes, a CUV does fit NEEDS. If you have kids in car seats, or you have trouble getting in to/out of low cars, then the advantages of a CUV fit your NEEDS, not WANTS.

          You are free to think whatever you want, but your inability to defend your opinions with rationale/reason, as well as your wholesale insulting of a whole swath of people, demonstrate the intellectual and emotional capacity of a petulant toddler. It’s guys like you that give auto enthusiasts a bad name and stink up discussions with your grand proclamations and pushing of opinions down everyone’s throats. And this is coming from a guy with an actual sports car, motorcycle and 5 door hatchback comprising my stable.

          Get over yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Indeed. “Wah wah wah, people buy what they want and because of that it’s not profitable to build what I want so those people are idiots.”

            If it was up to car enthusiasts, the only things available would be NA Miatas, 993 Porsches, W124 Benzs, and compact trucks and wagons.

            The real world is different.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I’d be even MORE likely to drive a wagon if gas was $10/gal. It is simply more efficient.

            I need a wagon. I don’t necessarily need a *BMW* wagon, my needs would have been met by a VW Jetta wagon or a hypothetical Accord Wagon, or a Mazda6 wagon. But I can afford a BMW, I wanted RWD and a stick, so that is what I bought. I’ve had wagons for over 25 years.

            As I said, if you NEED a tall car, you need a tall car. But that is a much smaller swath of the market than current sales levels of these things in the US. There is room in the market for all of us. But automakers have found that for now they can make a little MORE profit by not serving the whole market. Most people will compromise, I will not. And I actually buy new cars, in higher quantities than most people do these days. I vote with my wallet.

          • 0 avatar

            You’re a single guy with no spouse, no kids. You’ve never mentioned skiing, biking or anything of that nature (that might require a wagon), and you have a Range Rover. Why do you need a wagon aside from the esoterica factor? I’m genuinely curious.

            Also, is a wagon really more efficient than say, a CX-5 or a CR-V that can get around 35 mpg on the highway? The 328i wagon 6MT gets 17/26/20 mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Your 328i wagon is no more efficient than an X1 with the same drivetrain. So much for that lie.

            And yea, lol @ a dude with no kids or hobbies dictating what people with kids and hobbies MUST drive or NEED. You are the kind of commenter Derek wanted to expose and he got you hook line and sinker.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Dereck

            I’m a computer consultant by trade, and have been for 20+ years. Have you ever tried to fit an office worth of new computer hardware in a sedan? You can’t. Thus I have been driving wagons for a very long time. It drives exactly the same as whatever sedan it is based on. A better question is why would you want a sedan with limited cargo space and more difficult access to the back seat? I have brought an assembled gas grill home in the wagon, try that in a sedan. A snowblower on a shipping pallet in my MB300TE. I renovated most of my house and brought everything home in the back of a Saab 900T 3dr. Should have kept the Peugeot wagon it replaced though. Youthful foolishness.

            Why would you need a wagon for biking and skiing, activities that I did in my younger years rather extensively? Those go on the roof, not in the car. Why would I want snow and grease all over the inside of the car?

            The Rover serves a couple purposes. I have a deal with a friend where if I tow his boat, I can use it anytime I want. The boat and trailer weighs about 6000lbs. The other purpose is as a sacrificial winter car. The BMW is FANTASTIC in snow, but if some idiot hits it, I can’t replace it readily. With the Rover I will smile and cash their check. That happened with the Jeep the first winter I had it. And the Rover does mean I don’t have to wait for the plow or snowblow to go somewhere after a storm. Originally I had a Volvo wagon as a winter beater, but I decided that if I was going to have a spare car it made sense to have one that could do things that the BMW could not. That led to buying a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Which led to the boat deal, but the Jeep sucked to drive. The Rover is GREAT to drive for a 5Klb truck, though of course more expensive to run, by a lot. It will hold things bigger than the BMW too, and it’s old enough that I don’t care if it gets dirty. It’s just a truck, albeit a nice one. And exploring forest trails IS a lot of fun.

            My other two cars are purely toys. The Abarth, and my Triumph Spitfire that I have owned for going on 19 years.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @SportyAccordy

            There is no X1 with the same drivetrain as my car. The X1 uses the much more efficient 2.0T 4 cylinder drivetrain. My car is notably more efficient than the X3 that does share its I6 non-turbo drivetrain. And the X1 is one of the worst offenders of BARELY being a CUV at all. It’s a goofy looking butched up wagon with barely an inch more ground clearance than an AWD 3-series. And the X1 did not exist when I bought my car anyway.

            So try again.

            I don’t try to tell any single person what they need. I am making observations across the market. For a variety of reasons, automakers IN THE US, have been offering CUVs and not wagons, and that irritates me, because it is a largely artificial situation. Especially in cases like the Cruze, Mazda6, and many others where a perfectly nice wagon already exists.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The X1 and current 328i wagon are both AWD and have the 2.0T. They have the same exact fuel economy ratings. So again the idea that there’s always a penalty is false and your own brand proves it.

            Secondly the situation isn’t artificial. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Saturn and many other companies pulled out of the wagon market long before CUVs were even a twinkle in their eye due to lack of demand. Various other companies sold wagons and CUVs together… they gave wagons way more than a fair shake… and still, nobody bought them. Mazda sold a 6 wagon and hatchback for a few years. Nobody in the US cared and they wisely dropped them. VW still doesn’t have a midsize CUV, but they dropped the Passat wagon long ago due to lack of demand. The only wagon people actually wanted that got taken off the market was the WRX, and that is rumored to come back. So what are all these wagons that people want and can have? When we had them nobody bought them.

            You can create all the conspiracies and hurl all the insults you want, but at the end of the day the US auto market is easily the freest and most reflective of consumer tastes. There is no conspiracy- Americans do not want station wagons, period. Getting angry that the market won’t bend to your whimsies is a waste of time and energy.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @SportyAccordy

            I have the previous gen 3-series wagon. Which actually shares a platform with the X1, but not the engine. The X1 is a little smaller inside than my car. The current 3-series wagon is MUCH bigger than the X1, has the same engine, yet gets the same fuel economy. I call that an efficiency win in favor of the wagon.

            Everyone stopped selling wagons at the peak of the SUV craze. I can’t say I blame them. You had vehicles that in many cases were probably cheaper to build, got you better CAFE numbers, that you could sell for more money. Profit! Still sucks. And that was then and this is now. I ask again, the Crosstour sells like it is nailed to the showroom floor. Would an AWD Accord wagon sell worse? Doubt it.

            A market is not free when there are only limited offerings to choose from. The US car market is like a Soviet department store with 2 colors of shirts and 3 colors of pants, all the same style. But it is all really, really cheap! Europe is a far freer market. Want a sedan – here ya go! Hatch, check. SUV, yup, CUV, several to choose from. Sportscar – sure thing. Small truck – which one Sir? American, British, French, Italian, German, Swedish, even Chinese cars on offer if you are brave. You can even import a big old brand new American truck personally if you want to. Can I import a Cruze wagon if I want one? No. You have an interesting definition of “freedom”.

            And I really don’t have any issue with cars like the RAV4, CRV, and Escape. They are actually tall enough to have some actual advantages, should you need that sort of thing. I think things like the Outback and all it’s imitators, the Crosstour, and the GLA and X1 are really silly. The cars that literally ARE butched-up plastic clad wagons with an extra inch or two of ground clearance.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            People stopped buying wagons long before companies stopped selling them. You don’t seem to understand the concept of supply and demand.

            In Europe, people “WANT” wagons, so they build them. But that want comes with many asterisks. Again, taxes add ~150-200% to the price of fuel, for the sole purpose of limiting consumption. There are also taxes on displacement and emissions. Europe is also a lot more dense with smaller roads, so smaller, more maneuverable vehicles are more popular.

            When I say the American market is freer I don’t mean there is more choice. I mean that the choices we have are more reflective of what people actually want, rather than what the govt insists they should have. You can buy anything from a Chevy Spark to a Silverado 3500. Europeans don’t have that choice or the roads to be able to enjoy such choice.

            The continued insistence that manufacturers bring back a style of cars nobody wants (with 3 decades of evidence to prove it) is just beyond reason. Americans didn’t want wagons before OR after CUVs. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a wagon myself, but I’m not going to sit here and try to rationalize my preference as some failing on the part of a smart and profitable auto industry.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Station wagon market share in the US peaked in 1959.

            Station wagon sales volumes in the US peaked in 1963.

            If you whip out your calendar, you’ll see that both of those years fit into the “a long time ago” category.

            The fall of the wagon has been a long, decades-long slide downward that began in large part because the compact vans introduced in the 60s such as the Ford Econoline began to cannibalize the segment.

            Enough already.

        • 0 avatar

          I live in the “9/90/90” (joke, right?) South having moved from the snowy Cascades in WA and having moved there from Norland Sweden. I would say that the acquired common sense most locals acquire in driving in their environment has a far greater impact than ground clearance etc. Etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’m so happy that my one comment ignited such a *passionate* discussion… :P

            Unless it wasn’t mine they were replying to, in which case I rescind my prior statement. It’s so hard to tell once we get a dozen or more replies in one thread.

        • 0 avatar

          Buy that man a beer

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    I agree with the author Derek but maybe he chose the wrong examples to make his point.People today purchase vehicles based on marketing and status.They are duped into thinking that there are no compromises with CUVs and that they are good value no matter what the cost.The auto industry sells luxury cars with 20 series tires and people believe its for the ride qualities. People believe that a heavy vehicle is as economical and has the same dynamics as a lighter one.Most of fuel efficiency improvements have been negated by the heavy vehicles people buy today.I see the biggest most expensive AMG Mercedes being driven by 80 year olds because its their most expensive model not because of its attributes.I also believe the CUV rise parallels the rise of women in society.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Personally, as a logic-minded person, I envision the Honda CR-V as a perfect nuclear family car. Comfortable seating, reasonable cargo space, decent driving manners and gas mileage, ease of entry and exit for all ages, small footprint. Bigger family can go minivan; smaller towards a compact sedan. While on different modified platforms, to me the CR-V has equivalent room inside similar to the Accord…

      Just based on sight-lines alone, a CUV with it’s more upright seating position seems a safer prospective vehicle…

  • avatar

    If I put a 1.5″ lift on your Miata and only offered it with an automatic, would that make you like it more or less?
    “My Miata is sports car built to handle, an A4 avant is not”

    Not all of us are single dudes with minimal vehicular requirements. Sometimes one car has to cover many uses. The wagon–>CUV conversion is a step in the wrong direction for enthusiasts. My ’06 WRXagon was a perfect embodiment of that. Too bad I can’t get the “next one up” version of that car from Subaru or anyone else (save AMG at $100k).

    I’m well past being angry at their existence, and have come to accept that many have perfectly fine dynamics, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rather have a proper wagon over the CUV version.

  • avatar
    Zoom

    Ground clearance has utility beyond snow. I don’t mind putting 300+ lbs of bagged top soil and a third person in the back of my CR-V. My Mazda3? Not so much. My driveway isn’t flat, and the Mazda scrapes the garage concrete edge with four people on board.

  • avatar
    SteelyMoose

    Well, Derek, it looks like you got the narcissism part right.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Over a century of pervasive publicly funded indoctrination, have pretty thoroughly primed contemporary dronedom to classify everything into buckets they are told matter. They’ve been told they sound more sophistimecated that way.

    That’s why you end up with inanities like “what women want”, how Muslims are, arbitrary definitions of what is an asset and what is a consumable; as well as what is a truck and what is not. All so that utterly useless dimbulbs incapable of doing something valuable with their pathetic little lives, can babble on endlessly about classes of things they generally can’t even recite the definition for; and then insert themselves into value chains created by those less useless than themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      This reminds me of something I read recently –

      “When one narcissistic generation sets up the (chess) pieces for the next generation, and you put the rooks in the middle and leave out the bishops and hide one of the knights, and then you tell the kids that they lack the intelligence or concentration to really learn chess, you have to figure they’re not going to want to pay for your Social Security.” -The Last Psychiatrist

      Except, in my view, most of the Boomers couldn’t be bothered to learn chess, either.

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    One thing I never understood, as an European, is how the hell can a wagon become a “crossover” just by addition of longer springs/shocks and some plastic.

    In Europe, the Allroad is basically just a trim level/body style on A4 or A6, like the Octavia Scout is a trim level of Octavia. And no one would ever call it “SUV” or “crossover”. It’s just a wagon.

    But we also have hard time understanding that “SUV” is not a bodystyle of car and should be grouped together with “truck”.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      That is true, there isn’t room here to list all the European cars we get with longer springs. Also, CRVs and Rav4’s are not ‘trucks’ by a longshot, but we usually call Suburbans, Tahoes or Excursions trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        I know. And I still consider calling Suburban a “truck” funny, as well as having Volvo XC70 fall into different legal category than V70…

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I agree with you about the Volvos, but how is a Suburban not a truck? I certainly consider my P38 Range Rover to be a truck too, and it is tiny compared to a Suburban. And I LOVE Suburbans. If you have to carry a pile of people and a huge pile of stuff (or tow something) at the same time, there is nothing finer. But I would never contemplate commuting in one.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Attempt number six? I’m seeing if it works in this article.

    I do thank the people for their responses. It appears to ones who use BAFO are the subjective ones. This does’t mean they are lesser people, just more unfortunate.

    I can see many responses that are subjective and emotive regarding personal views on FCA and Jeep products.

    I was actually considering a VM diesel Grand Cherokee. So, I do know where it fits in the scheme of thing here in Australia. There was a provocative comment regarding the Australian car market. To that person, yes the Australian car market is a litmus used by many manufacturers to test a new product. Apparently if a vehicle makes it in Australia it is more probable to be successful in other western countries.

    The Grand Cherokee was priced similarly to the Kia Sorento/Hyundai Santa Fe. Bling and quality were competitive between them. The Korean’s did have a slight advantage in bling.

    To the person who stated that Jeep overall quality had improved. Yes, this is quite true. But it has yet to match the Euro prestige or even the mainstream Japanese competitors, ie, Prado, Pajero, etc. These vehicle command a higher price and they aren’t prestige vehicles.

    FCA is pricing all of it’s products aggressively here. This is against ‘bread and butter’ brands not prestige. The quality of FCA vehicles also doesn’t fit with a prestige brand.

    Also, the comment stating that our Grand Cherokee is different, yes, the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the vehicle. There is no differences between our vehicles. Australia has a liberal car market and we even accept American vehicles built to American standards.

    I have never stated that the Grand Cherokee didn’t represent good value or that it’s quality was poor in relation to it’s pricing. The Grand Cherokee is good off road. But so are many other products.

    The Jeep Grand Cherokee is such a mainstream SUV/CUV it’s the biggest seller here. That should indicate this isn’t a prestige vehicle, it’s just a common vehicle, like a ute.

    A Wagoneer I do envisage to be cheaper than a Patrol or Landcruiser in which it will be competing. But it will need more than reputation to survive here. It will actually need to produce the goods. If it can’t be competitive against a Patrol or Landcruiser it will not be imported.

    Even the Chev Suburban was removed from our market due to poor performance and quality.

    The US does build some good vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “The Jeep Grand Cherokee is such a mainstream SUV/CUV it’s the biggest seller here. That should indicate this isn’t a prestige vehicle, it’s just a common vehicle, like a ute.”

      The GC is a big volume seller in America too, but that doesn’t diminish its prestige. I personally find the GC interesting, because it is one of very few vehicles that mostly transcends status. It is not uncommon for a rank-and-file employee in America to drive a GC to work and park it next to an executive’s GC in the parking lot. Granted, the regular guy probably has a Laredo and the executive an Overland or Summit, but still. And because it’s popular, there are lots of used ones too; it was a very popular car on my college campus amongst students. Wealthy kids drove newish ones, regular kids had older hand-me-downs. It’s just one of the very few cars in the US where it is almost never out of place. You wouldn’t feel strange pulling up to a fancy restaurant or black tie wedding, nor do you feel silly driving one to the hardware store they way you might a Range Rover. If you saw a wealthy person driving one, it’s not looked on as a transparent way to fly under the radar or appear more humble; in the same way, a regular guy can buy one without appearing “fake rich” or pretentious the way someone who leases a new 3-series or C-Class might.

      Unless you have to drive long distances (gas mileage isn’t great) or want a sports car, it really is a fantastic choice for almost all occasions, which is what makes it so popular.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @2Sk Chris,
        You obviously don’t drive what I drive.

        You need reliability in all situations, not just on some divided highway.

        Also, if every Tom, Dick and Harry is buying this vehicle, then doesn’t this suggest to you it has little prestige?

        It is a nice vehicle, but so is a Ford Falcon or Commodore, which would be just as if not more reliable than a Grand Cherokee and more comfortable.

        Guess what? They are also pretty much a daily hack like the Grand Cherokee.

        They are quite good for a budget 4×4.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    My Mom HATES the appearance of a traditional “station wagon”, recalling too many rides in such “old fashioned” vehicles in her youth. Proportion and stance have a way of tricking the senses. It all began in late 2001, when the all-new 2002 Ford Explorer became her daily driver and changed her perception… followed by an ’09 Saturn Outlook, followed by an ’11 GMC Yukon.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Excellent point, the average age of new car buyers these days is in the mid 50’s. These are the same people that in the ’60’s and 70’s spent hours on end 4 across on vinyl seats without air-conditioning, in the middle of summer to visit Grandma 4 states away. I’ve heard all of the horror stories from my dad. It is no wonder wagons are so unpopular and it makes sense that even the most minuscule of differences and a change of name is enough to convince buyers that wagons are not wagons. It is all about clearing an unpleasant mental hurdle for Boomers with station-wagon PTSD.

  • avatar

    I must be the only Mazda enthusiast who doesn’t like the looks of the new 3. I have always thought the hatch looks like a lowered 2010 Hyundai Tucson, but worse. For reference:
    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/08/hyundai-prices-2010-tucson-crossover-from-18-995/

    Blech. I agree the new Mazda’s look a little upscale from some angles. The new 6 wears the design better due to longer proportion, but that super-simple dome shape of the green house doesn’t match and cheapens the whole thing. I wish Mazda would go back to ripping off the Europeans. The 1990 protege looked like a mini-mercedes, and the 2001 looked like a mini A4.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I got your back on that one…I thought the ’03 was amazing, and it’s gone downhill from there. The side profile of this gen looks like a cousin from the Infiniti FX club….

  • avatar
    05lgt

    “a raised ride height that has zero effect on handling dynamics.”
    Same weight and track? Higher cg will cause more dynamic weight transfer to the outer wheels at a given lateral g, removing normal force from the inside wheels and overloading the outside ones sooner. It may be at a lateral g load only a lunatic would attempt thanks to wide modern tires, but it’s a real difference. It’s not about body lean, it’s just physics.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Two cents… Ride height just ain’t for snow. In the south we have some called “flooding”. An inch or two helps sometimes. That said, I drove my ’59 Chevy Bel Air 4dr. Blue Flame 6 into a January blizzard in Cleveland, OH from Athens, GA in 1963 with no snow tires and got around just fine. I lived in north central CT (snow/The Ice Storm) from ’71-78 driving a ’68 Volvo 245s with Michelin XZX radials… no problem. Had a Subaru coupe on the side and it was great fun in the snow. In Chicago durning the Michael Bilandic era, drove a Renault LeCar in the snow (XZX again), no problem. On to western PA in a Renault Turbo Feugo… No problem, no snow tires but hated the funky Michelins TRXs. Then 3 years in Albany, NY covering Montreal to Buffalo to Boston to NYC in a ’85 325e 2dr. With Blizzaks. No problem. BUT, then to Philly! Horrible snow removal in western burbs. Had an ’88 535iS, TRXs again. Stayed in the garage for one entire winter. Drove a Suzuki samurai everywhere including roadside ditches to avoid other car. Then an ’99 Isuzu Trooper, great truck SUV, great ground clearance, 4wd, went everywhere. Got the wifey A new Jeep GC that took her 100 miles to NE Philly and back every day regardless of weather… No problem. Sadly, 2 years ago I traded my .Cayman S for an Audi Q5 to accommodate grandchildren and dogs. And the Q5 is Audi’s best seller in the US… sufficient comfort, lux, excellent tech, 24-26 mpg. So I’ve run the gamut and most SUVs are a waste, CUVs much the same except for the fact they impart a “Feeling” of added safety for many women. Are they needed for foul weather? Not really, but for many they help.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    First off, I recently bought a new minimalist hatchback (as subcompact wagons aren’t a thing over here, but 5 doors is 5 doors, even if one of those doors is really a hatch) with a manual transmission, so I’m at least trying to put my money where my mouth is.

    But it’s the little things I resent. How Audi can sell an SQ5, but can’t be bothered to even send over a regular A4 Avant, nevermind an S4 Avant. How a number of manufacturers are quickly getting to the point where they offer more CUV choices than cars. That, for all the talk of sedans being superior (cause, extra rigidity and harder for people to steal your stuff?), there’s no Crossover Sedan since Subaru gave up on that. That not enough people embrace winter tires, forgetting that more driven wheels don’t do much to help you stop or turn.

    Yes, CUVs have come a long way dynamically, but there’s still no getting away from the simple fact that being higher up amplifies all body motions. Maybe it’s asinine to worry about what that does to handling, but it certainly makes it harder to drive smoothly. And if potholes are such a big issue, whatever happened to sidewall?

    Really, all I want is for crossovers to reach the same level of out of fashion as minivans, so that there’s a handful of choices available for the people who legitimately need them, and have everyone else move on to something else.

    • 0 avatar
      TybeeJim

      The reason Audi doesn’t sell the Avant, A4/S4 here is that folks in the USA seem to hate station/Estate wagons. It kind of started with the first Ford Explorer and went from there. One only need look at the offerings. GM doesn’t offer anything like a wagon; Ford comes close with the Flex whic is superior to the Explorer in every practical way. Toyota has the Venza? BMW will special order a 3/5 wagon, Benz has the E350 Estate that the “landed gentry” over 60 buy on occasion. Sit in an interstate rest stop (lurk and get arrested) for 30″ and count the CUV/SUVs. Regardless of facts, it’s perception that counts…

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I’m working on buying an A4 Avant S-line this week (come on who doesn’t want a turbo sportswagon?) and have been browsing the Audi forums. The raised ride height on the allroad is basically blasphemous to the extent that people will buy brand new allroads then install coilovers to recreate an avant (at a much higher price) but even then there is no love for them because they started out life as…an evil crossover. Is it a bit silly? Maybe, but car enthusiasts want to own cars that people think of as sporty and a raised wagon is just one step too far.
    I think I will enjoy the A4 even if it secretly handles little different than an Accord.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do find it odd that two US standards aren’t the same.

    But why? Let’s look a little closer at what’s occurring here.

    The first thing is CAFE. How can CAFE measure FE differently than the EPA? This is all due to what constitutes the definition of a truck.

    As I’ve pointed out in the past a PT Cruiser in the US is considered a truck.

    The simplest way to determine what a truck is by it’s primary function.

    So, if a vehicle is primarily for the transport of people over cargo then it must be a passenger vehicle.

    If it’s primary function is to carry a load it’s a truck.

    But there will be some grey areas. So if that it the case then the person will be forced to buy a commercial vehicle.

    Another way for the government to stop the abstract interpretation of what constitutes a specific vehicle type make set standards that the vehicle must meet.

    1. The vehicle must have a minimum of 8″ of ground clearance at it’s lowest point )excluding diff centres and some suspension components.

    2. The vehicle must have a payload of 1 000lbs after all seats are filled with 200lb passengers and all fluids at the maximum.

    3. The vehicle must return a specific FE figure when operating at it’s maximum gross vehicle weight.

    4. Any vehicle that can carry 10 or more people.

    It isn’t that hard to come up with a simple measure to determine what a truck is.

    Or just have one simple rule with CAFE. In other words all vehicles must meet a certain value with FE irrespective of it’s use.

    Having an equitable system isn’t that hard.

    There is a big but in all of this. Who will protect the US car industry? The chicken tax only goes so far now.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It seems the length of time it takes for your comment to ingest into TTAC has something to do with the problem. What a sh!t fight this is.

    This can’t be rocket science to remedy.

    ……………………………………………………………..

    I do find it odd that two US standards aren’t the same.

    But why? Let’s look a little closer at what’s occurring here.

    The first thing is CAFE. How can CAFE measure FE differently than the EPA? This is all due to what constitutes the definition of a truck.

    As I’ve pointed out in the past a PT Cruiser in the US is considered a truck.

    The simplest way to determine what a truck is by it’s primary function.

    So, if a vehicle is primarily for the transport of people over cargo then it must be a passenger vehicle.

    If it’s primary function is to carry a load it’s a truck.

    But there will be some grey areas. So if that it the case then the person will be forced to buy a commercial vehicle.

    Another way for the government to stop the abstract interpretation of what constitutes a specific vehicle type make set standards that the vehicle must meet.

    1. The vehicle must have a minimum of 8″ of ground clearance at it’s lowest point )excluding diff centres and some suspension components.

    2. The vehicle must have a payload of 1 000lbs after all seats are filled with 200lb passengers and all fluids at the maximum.

    3. The vehicle must return a specific FE figure when operating at it’s maximum gross vehicle weight.

    4. Any vehicle that can carry 10 or more people.

    It isn’t that hard to come up with a simple measure to determine what a truck is.

    Or just have one simple rule with CAFE. In other words all vehicles must meet a certain value with FE irrespective of it’s use.

    Having an equitable system isn’t that hard.

    There is a big but in all of this. Who will protect the US car industry? The chicken tax only goes so far now.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Hey, Derek!

    It does seem the size of a comment is directly related to the problems occurring at TTAC.

    This might help your IT whips.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Maybe the extra line breaks aren’t helping?

      They’re only a couple of extra characters, true.

      But they’re also common among a certain subset of spamming software.

      So it’s possible one of the things the anti-spam algorithm is looking for is an abnormally high ratio of line breaks to comment length.

      Just a thought.

  • avatar
    denster2u

    I think the focus is on the wrong attribute, as the appeal of the crossover/CUV is not so much ground clearance as it is a higher seating position. Buyers simply prefer a more commanding view of the road from above because it envelopes them in a false sense of security, even though a CUV is not inherently safer than a regular sedan. People equate sitting higher with safety. Even though a hatchback has every bit of utility and safety as a crossover, it is deemed inferior because of the ‘insecurity” of sitting lower to the ground. It’s an irrational psychological perception.

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