QOTD: What is a Crossover?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Crossover — it’s such a magical term. To the average consumer and the shiny marketing executive, adventure and utility come standard with a crossover. The consumers who own a crossover can rest assured they’re interesting, well-rounded, and worthwhile people. The marketing executive can also rest assured with the knowledge the CUV is without a doubt the fastest growing segment in the entire North American market.

But you are neither consumer nor person of marketing lineage, you’re the B&B. So tell me, what defines a crossover for you?

Check out the image above. Here, in a suburban shopping setting — which is simultaneously comforting, familiar, well-lighted, and safe — two vehicles of similar proportion are parked next to one another. But these vehicles inhabit two entirely separate planes of existence if you subscribe to the shared conventional wisdom of the marketing man and buying public.

Both cars seat the same number of sentient meatbags, both are front-wheel drive, both have four-cylinder engines, and, critically, both have about the same ride height and ground clearance. One of the vehicles has a hatch, and the other a trunk. While the green blob on the left is a sedan (yuck, what a boring appliance!) the Majestic Silver vehicle on the right is a crossover (super desirable and profitable!).

The one on the left is the ubiquitous Toyota Corolla, and the vehicle to the right is the new Kia Niro. While there’s no doubt the Corolla is a sedan, around TTAC’s virtual executive office there have been some recent questions about the crossover designation as applied to the front-wheel drive only Niro. Kia could have branded and marketed the Niro as a compact hatch, but there’s no way in hell they’d do such a thing with any knowledge of the current car climate.

And that’s where you come in for today’s Question of the Day. What does a vehicle need to be to support the now-illustrious crossover name and associated price premium? Which muddy, rough-hewn boxes must a vehicle tick to make the grade?

[Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
2 of 111 comments
  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Mar 05, 2017

    The last crossover I drove was a 2016 Lexus NX. Lexus literally took everything potentially good about it and made it bad. Turbocharging torque advantage - nope you still have rev the snot out of it to get any oomph. Raised ground clearance - but, make the suspension so stiff it still crashes over bumps. Two-box with hatch - But give it origami styling and a fastback roofline to gobble up interior space. Lots of windows - but make them gun-slits and tint them so dark you can't out, if you could....see out.

  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Mar 06, 2017

    I define "crossover" to be a vehicle that triggers Jack Baruth and anyone who subscribes to TTAC/Jalopnik groupthink.

  • VoGhost Quality review. Thanks!
  • VoGhost Love this collective clutching of pearls over a vehicle name not a single commenter will ever see, drive or buy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Here's why" edition_cnn_com/2018/06/13/health/falling-iq-scores-study-intl/index.html
  • 28-Cars-Later Seriously, $85. GM Delta I is burning hot garbage to the point where the 1990 Saturn Z-body is leagues better. My mother inherited an '07 Ion with 30Kish otc which was destroyed in 2014 by a tipsy driver with a suspended license (driver's license enforcement is a joke in Pennsyltucky). Insurance paid out $6,400 when it was only worth about $5,800 IIRC, but sure 10 year later the "hipo" Delta I can fetch how much?
  • Buickman styling does not overcome powertrain, follow the money. labor/materials.