By on September 13, 2019

Image: VW

God knows we’ve talked up crossovers ad nauseum. Not in the same uniformly derisive manner as certain twenty-something bloggers, mind you, but the topic certainly has staying power — and with good reason. The thing about these (mostly) non-canyon-carving family boxes is that they insert themselves so easily into so many people’s lives, ticking a great number of boxes on a regular family’s list of must-haves. Hence the sales, the popularity, and the press.

So copious is the choice awaiting a would-be crossover buyer, he or she might become overwhelmed with indecision, ultimately requiring the intervention of medication and therapy. For others, the thought of bringing any one of these things home might leave a bad taste in their mouth. And for a certain few, the crossover of their dreams just hasn’t arrived yet. The love affair they didn’t think could happen awaits just over the horizon.

Maybe not a love affair for all things unibody, FWD, and cargo-friendly, for sure, but for a vehicle belonging to this overly broad segment that remains out of reach for American consumers. Perhaps its doesn’t yet exist anywhere in the world — just in the fertile imaginations of those who demand something different.

Something funky, avante-garde, and almost guaranteed to sell in numbers low enough to make the whole project a pointless money waster for any automaker dumb enough to attempt it. Then again, models with enough volume could affordably spawn variants aimed at a fairly narrow slice of the public, should the automaker choose to be generous.

Image: VW

Overseas, European buyers will soon have access to a drop-top Volkswagen compact CUV, affording drivers the open-air experience they were tacitly promised when the targa-like T-Roc concept appeared several years back. Americans haven’t known such oddball enjoyment since the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet bit the dust. And look at all of that vodka cooler-swallowing cargo space! (Zima? Mineral water?)

Maybe GMC was on to something when its debuted the Envoy XUV all those years ago. Perhaps Subaru’s Baja was a kooky idea you’d like to see replicated on a two-box crossover you’d otherwise pass over. Or maybe, just maybe, these attempts at filling a need that barely existed do not go far enough.

Tell us about the high-riding, unibody vehicle of your dreams. Who’ll build it, and how wild will it get?

[Images: Volkswagen]

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31 Comments on “QOTD: Waiting on Perfection?...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I liked the look of that Ford Puma that was featured yesterday. How about a 200-hp ST version for GTI money? I’d take a look at that.

    Or how about a HR-V Si?

    I think there might be a market for a performance-oriented tiny CUV out there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m a childless & petless heathen that lives in Florida and never leaves the pavement. So my need/desire for cargo space, people space, or AWD is about zero.

    If there was a unibody truck that I thought looked cool and it was fast (like 5.5 or less 0-60) then I might have some interest. That would really just be for lifestyle purposes though.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “unibody vehicle of your dreams”
    Bring back the Comanche. Do it yesterday. Regular cab, short box, torquey V6 with stick and manual transfer case. Please and thank you.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    How about something with the minivan form factor but a couple extra inches of ground clearance, AWD, and more aggressive tires? Let me keep the sliding doors and Suburban sized cargo space, but also be confident in deep snow or even some light off roading.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    That VW takes the limited cargo space and lessens it.

    If I wanted a “utility” vehicle with an open top there is the Wrangler.

    If I just needed the space there is a Minivan.

    If I needed space and to tow, it wouldn’t be a Crossover. Durango or Suburban if the D wasn’t big enough.

    My sister on the other hand loves her crossover and it was one of the originals. Hers is the original Pacifica, not the minivan.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Looks like a rehash of the mid/late 90’s Audi A4 Cabrio. What, left over body shells getting recycled?

  • avatar
    volvo

    OK not a CUV but

    4 door sedan about 180 inches long no larger.
    Decent handling
    All the bells and whistles available or optioned.
    N/A ICE engine at least 170 hp. Prefer no CVT
    Decent history of reliability.
    Priced below 40K.

    Not available now and I don’t think it will be. Only manufacturer that still comes close is Toyota. If they upped handling and content on the existing Corolla I would pay $30-35K for it.

    There were some euro models that came close but once you option them you are looking at &45-55K

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The new Mazda3 isn’t good enough?

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        You are correct. It does fit my checklist. Thanks for pointing it out.

        I hadn’t considered it because the closest dealer is about 30 miles away and I had a 2018 as a rental about 4 months ago and the handling was atrocious. That surprised me because I thought Mazdas would be “sporty”.

        But looking at the 2020 specs it seems to meet all my criteria. Would like bird’s eye view cameras but can do without. Everything else is there that I want.

        If I need to replace our V6 Accord it would be the one I would get.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    The VW in the article is just about as “utility” as the convertible Murano. I just saw a drop-top Murano in the wild the other day. The proportions of that thing was so ungainly. It was truly an ugly car and I rarely say that about any vehicle. It was my first sighting even though they had been available for years. I live in SoCal and you would think if the convertible Murano would enjoy any popularity it would be here.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    If I have to drive one of these, I suppose I’ll build it myself. Gen 2 CRV AWD 5 speed. Put the Civic suspension back under it. Add Honda K series goodies and boost. Enjoy my modern AWD Boosted Civic Wagon.

    If I have to buy new then apply that formula to any of the small crossovers out there that are built on small cars we no longer get or that have had the fun sucked out of them. This could keep the hot hatch alive.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Mustang

  • avatar
    scott25

    If it’s the only way to add some practicality, I’ll take a crossover on the 86 or Miata platform, 2WD is fine. Also doesn’t need a usable rear seat (if any), just more comfortable to live with on a daily basis with some more cargo capacity and not scared to run over potholes or on rutted backroads. The powertrains don’t even need to be changed.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Oh wow, that’s horrible. I hope it doesn’t come here, though the South Florida Realtor Ass’n might be willing to become a fleet buyer. I wonder if VW would do pink…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Subaru Outback Onyx XT “Sport” edition with the ride-height of the Legacy.

    GMC Terrain Syclone edition with 3.0TT V6 AWD and the gear ratios transmission cooler from the current towing package. Lower it 2 to 3 in from current iterations ride height.

    GMC Acadia Conquistador with 1 inch drop, no 3rd row, 2nd row bench, 3.6 V6 and torque vectoring AWD out of the Buick parts bin.

    Durango Hemi but narrow the real world price gap between the V6 and V8 editions. The MSRPs aren’t that far apart but transaction prices are wildly different.

    What do all these things have in common? They are really just station wagons once you put the proper suspension on them.

    Yes it’s a sickness that I have.

    • 0 avatar
      80Cadillac

      I think of my 2006 RWD 6-cylinder GMC Envoy as a 21st Century Buick station wagon. I tow with it, and it rides at normal height. It almost never leaves the road, but did surprisingly well on some extreme back roads and dry washes near Santa Fe a couple of years ago. My brother had convinced me to take a “short cut”.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I guess I don’t have a visceral anti-CUV bent, having bought an Escape in the past, but I’m primarily looking for decent proportions and something relatively pleasing to the eye. I suppose the Compass works for me as it can still be had with a manual in the US, not sure if this is true for the 3.6 though. Otherwise, I might consider a 2.5T CX-5 when my lease it up, even though manuals are not offered there. Mazda has been good to me.

    That said if the rumours of Mazda possibly offering manuals again as an a la carte option are true, it might make for a compelling case.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Honestly I’d say the Alfa Giulia, but I think Alfa builds it

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Let’s make a Frankenlexus.

    Start with the LS 500 platform.

    Raise it up a few inches and put a wagon body on it, probably one similarly swoopy to the LS itself.

    Stick the powertrain from the old LS600h (5.0 V8 + planetary gearset-based hybrid system) under it. That was a far more luxurious powertrain than the one in the current LS500h, although it wasn’t so efficient.

    Add every luxury feature Lexus has ever dreamed up, from actively cooled rear seats to semi-aniline door pulls.

    Boom, my desired crossover.

  • avatar
    80Cadillac

    Not unibody, or a CUV, but I always felt that GM should have produced a smaller version of the Avalanche, on the original Colorado/Canyon chassis. They could have called it the RockSlide. I would have bought one.

  • avatar
    darex

    I kind of already have it: 2018 MINI Countryman S All4 with manual transmission. Perfect size for me. Very refined road manners, good steering feel, agile, and has had bulletproof reliable, so far, with 31,000 miles in.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    A true compact extended cab pickup with a 3 or 4 cylinder engine and a 6 speed manual. This could be based on a compact or subcompact car or crossover platform. Price starting at below 19k for a base model. Keep it as simple as possible with nothing more than what is required by law except add air conditioning as standard. No wifi, no power windows, no power locks, no power seats, with just a base stereo with USB ports. Make the bed not any shorter than 5 feet long. Oh and offer rear seat delete


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