By on December 6, 2019


Cars are out, crossovers are in. This is as true as saying the sun rises in the east or that the slow air leak in your back tire will eventually get worse. It’s a given, and, with the current onslaught of crossovers now trickling into previously unexplored white space, your choice has never been greater.

2019 may be remembered as the year automakers broke out of traditional segments and began inserting boxy products into that narrow window between existing models. Chevrolet, Buick, and Mazda all decided it was a good idea to pursue buyers in tweener segments. The question today is: have any of these supposedly right-sized products moved you to consider a brand you’d normally have ignored?

The best space to troll for new buyers seems to be that hazy gap between subcompact and compact. Perhaps automakers have realized that the passenger car cull necessitates more utility models on the lower end of things. Why else would we have a Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Encore GX, and Mazda CX-30 arriving for 2020?

It’s worth noting that the Chevy Blazer, new for 2019, also qualifies as a tweener, with that model positioned between the compact and midsize fields. There’s nowhere else for Chevy to go except the A-segment, perhaps doing battle with Hyundai’s pint-sized Venue. No one would be surprised to see that happen.

It’s a Goldilocks strategy. Build enough crossovers in enough sizes, and eventually you’ll have a bowl of porridge to suit just about every lifestyle and budget.

Perhaps one of these tweeners is just right for you. Has the appearance of any of these vehicles caused you to reconsider your next buy? And, more importantly: did the new tweener cause you to consider a new brand?

[Image: General Motors, Mazda]

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53 Comments on “QOTD: Tempted by a Tweener?...”

  • avatar

    Yes, I am tempted by a tweener because at this point in life they may work for me, however I find the majority of them dull and underpowered like the small sedans they’re replacing. The Jeep Renegade is the only one that seems to be mildly interesting. Perhaps as time goes by car makers will flesh them out a bit and create something more exciting

    • 0 avatar

      Pretty sure the Renegade is squarely subcompact and the Compass is the tweener stuck between the Renegade and Cherokee.

      • 0 avatar

        Wouldn’t that make the Compass a compact? Half-sized cars are the cat’s pajamas!

        The American consumer has chosen this split-the-difference product blitz by choosing ‘Mama Bear’s Porridge (here-to-forth referred to as MBP, Copyright iNeon)– time and again.

        Americans, by-and-large, choose to pretend to be sated, but in actuality are left a little hungry. The companies building our cars pick up on the pattern, even when the buying public try to swerve. Example: in the earlier days, mid-luxe was a thing. Those brands (Chrysler, Buick, Mercury) are largely gone.

        In the 1990s, everyone picked the mid-trim, mid-sized Taurus.

        Right now, the companies are just exploiting this very human trait in the CUV market by replacing aging product (Encore to GX, Trax to Trailblazer– Renegade to Compass, etc) with some incrementally larger (or smaller) version of MBP.

      • 0 avatar

        A Compass Trailhawk was far and away the worst vehicle I rented this year. Really, truly awful to drive.

        But no, I have no use for crossovers in general. They are a stupid genre of car to start with. If I need a truck, I will buy a truck. If I need a minivan, I will buy a minivan, I am secure in my masculinity. I have no need at all for a hatchback with a useless lift kit and optional pretend AWD.

  • avatar


    • 0 avatar


      No interest in crossovers. I used to own a 2012 MINI Countryman S. It was a master of nothing – storage space was bad, handling – compared to its smaller brethren – was bad, acceleration – with the extra weight – was poor, and that’s all she wrote. The only joy was a decent 6-speed manual, otherwise it felt like a small but relatively useless minivan.

      Oddly enough a BoF SUV is different matter to me since they are based on truck bones. For example I have no problem with the 4Runner and Tahoe.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Would never willingly purchase another sedan, unless forced to compromise.

    Although my preference would be a minivan, our next vehicle will probably be a ‘small’ CUV. My better half finds a Rogue to be ‘too big’ for her to comfortably navigate the streets and mall parking lots of the GTA.

    But all the drivers in our family prefer the ease of ingress/egrees, ride height, road clearance, and vertical storage capabilities of an SUV/CUV over that of a sedan.

    So something like a Soul, Kona, Qashqai, etc is what we are contemplating.
    I do wish that GM still offered the Chev Orlando. That was almost the exact package/size for what we want.

    • 0 avatar

      As they have discontinued my Cruze and there are too many downsides to low sitting vehicles nowadays, given the volume of CUVs on the road, I’ve resigned myself to some small CUV too. I tend to look at GM first, and if they don’t have what I want move on.
      The Trailblazer, assuming I can be convinced the lawnmower engine they are putting in it will get decent MPG at 75 mph is much better looking than the cheap looking Trax. Otherwise I like the H/K lineup too.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, we find our Rogue too small. Will be a minivan next for us and we will be keeping the sedan, but we can get in and out easily still. I don’t care is I ever get another CUV. Well, a replacement Durango for towing maybe but they are a little bigger.

    • 0 avatar

      I have never and probably would never buy a new sedan. They are useless. But I have no need for a hatch or wagon with a lift kit and an extra 500-1000lbs of road hugging weight and a $5K+ price premium. I can simply buy a proper hatchback or wagon that fits my needs just fine. If the car makers don’t want to sell me one new, I have no problem buying them used.

      If you are so decrepit that getting in and out of a normal height car is a chore, I would suggest an exercise program. I am a big, fat, out of shape [email protected]@rd and have no problem getting in and out of a Fiata at age 50, never mind my GTI or BMW wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @krhodes:I am more than a decade older than you but have been working out regularly at the gym a minimum of 4 days per week for over 40 years. Also played college and some semi-pro sports. And walk for a minimum of one hour everyday regardless of weather. Yet getting into and out of either of our 2 sedans is something that I have come to detest. Perhaps too many miles on my back and knees and neck? Getting my mother into our out of one of the sedans is even worse. In fact we have given up on that. Our CUV’s are far superior for access/exit. The hatch of the CUV’s provides better cargo capacity than a trunk. Their rear seats have much better headroom. They have larger greenhouses which combined with their ride height provide much better visibility. And in weather like Toronto experienced this morning, in a CUV/SUV you don’t have to worry about slush from passing truck/pick-ups/etc obscuring your windshield every few seconds.

        CUVs are close enough in MPG to sedans that it doesn’t matter too much. A compact/midsize, mid-market FWD sedan does not handle that much better in regular driving to make much difference either.

        Just like the minivan originally replaced the wagon because it was better at most day to day duties, the CUV is better than the sedan at most of its day to day duties/uses.

        I would still rather have a minivan, but no company sells a true minivan in North America any longer

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t consider myself to be a car expert, but i’m thinking that the tweeners might reflect a trend back to the the CUV roots of 10-15 years ago.

      I had an excellent long-term experience with a Chevrolet HHR. While that model might not have been highly regarded by some, I found it to be an ingenious combination of small footprint, considerable cargo capacity, economical operation, and tossable, fun-to-drive performance. There was once an entire class of vehicles that reflected these characteristics: Honda Element, Scion XB/XD, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Toyota Matrix, and Pontiac Vibe, among others.

      As the years have passed the number of crossovers has proliferated, but all of the models that I mentioned are now gone. It seems that the manufacturers have opted to go either smaller or bigger, resulting in small subcompacts like the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, and Kia Soul, or ever-expanding “compacts” like the Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CR-V. The subcompacts have the small footprint but absolutely minuscule cargo capacity, while the larger CUVs have the cargo capacity but lack much of the tossable maneuverability that I am accustomed to.

      I haven’t found a vehicle that matches the characteristics of my former HHR. I had hoped that the Honda HR-V might be a solution, but I found the car to be almost dangerously underpowered.

      After a long search, I finally opted for a used Lincoln MKC, a vehicle with almost the exact cargo capacity of the HHR. I’m hoping that the additional comfort might make up for the loss of the other characteristics. But I miss the flexibility of the earlier group, and maybe the new tweeners will recapture some of that.

  • avatar

    Trying to find a replacement for my wife’s Caliber. The Soul would fit the bill but it’s so fugly.

  • avatar

    I would go out tomorrow checkbook in hand to buy a boxy vehicle with size and capability in between a Suburban/Expedition Max and a crew cab HD truck. That is, if someone saw fit to offer one.

    I might also be interested in a simple, small off road SUV in between a Wrangler 2 door and an ATV. A modern CJ5 if you will.

    There’s really not much else that would interest me.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I was tempted by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio until I drove one.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve actually heard good things about how that car drives. What turned you off?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The biggest issue was the performance and feel of the brake-by-wire system in the vehicle:

        During the test drive, the brakes varied between grabby and nearly unresponsive, with me rolling through a stop sign once because I couldn’t get the car to stop. (This may have been improved in a later recall). I also found the 2.0T engine to be peaky; it wanted to be raced rather than driven daily. As for utility, the rear seating was very tight.

        But I like the look of it very much, and I retain my weakness for Italian cars.

  • avatar

    The Trailblazer’s styling is actually decent. It will be interesting to see what hardware/software tweaks they make to try to sell the “off road” version.

    However that doesn’t mean I want one.

    I also think this is going to be an area of explosive growth as manufacturers try to figure out how to get millennials into new cars.

    • 0 avatar

      “I also think this is going to be an area of explosive growth as manufacturers try to figure out how to get millennials into new cars.”

      Let’s give that up and focus on the next generation.

  • avatar

    Not tempted in the least. Why? Because the one thing that tempts me is performance capability, and none of these vehicles have it.

    Would I be interested in, say, a Mazdaspeed CX-30? Sure. Problem is, vehicles like this are needlessly expensive to begin with, and a performance version would just cost more. What’s the point of a $40,000 tiny CUV over, say, a GTI? You tell me.

    I think vehicles like this are just an excuse for manufacturers to overcharge customers for the same stuff they’ve sold for less money in the past. These things are fashion statements above all else. Not that this is anything new – they did it 40 years ago, which is how cheap Chevelle coupes became more expensive Monte Carlos, and so on.

  • avatar

    Nope, if its too small to be a sedan it should be a coupe and well, notgonnahappen.

  • avatar

    Never, we’re sticking with sedans and hatchbacks, plus keeping our 1998 Nissan Frontier 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual with no frills other than a/c, ps, and dual frontal airbags.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I would consider a first gen Scion xB. If it were built today it would be considered a crossover, so that should count.

  • avatar

    No, and how dare you Mr. Epstein, my last name is not Clinton.

  • avatar
    Dale Houston

    That CX-30 looks pretty great. I’d need to see how big it is in real life.

    I’ve had the CX-3 and the CX-5 as loaners when my car has been serviced. I really liked driving the CX-3, but I think the tiny rear seat would have precluded a purchase. The CX-5 felt a little top-heavy and swayey by comparison. I might be able to talk my wife into a CX-30.

  • avatar

    This is timely. I just took delivery of a 2020 Jaguar F-Pace S yesterday. It’s my wife’s daily/family hauler and it is replacing a 2007 V8 XC90 (also purchased new).

    Initial impressions are positive but the best part is, she loves it. I’ve picked every car she’s driven in the 30 years we’ve been together and this time it was her choice. I think she did ok! I wanted the SVR but the last thing I need is another forced induction V8 in my garage. This was a good compromise.

    • 0 avatar

      “but the last thing I need is another forced induction V8 in my garage.”

      I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say that.

      Congrats on the F Pace. Buy or lease?

      • 0 avatar

        Ha! You got me there. This one was a lease as it’s our first British car and there’s no need to mention their reliability history. I purchased an ’18 CTS-V last year so I didn’t want to put another huge down payment down and the Volvo is becoming too needy to remain her daily after 12 years. I’m going to drive the Volvo a few days a week to keep the miles down on the V.

        Hmm, a Volvo, a Cadillac and now a Jag. I must be reading that Consumer Reports survey upside down! Never a dull moment here that’s for sure.

  • avatar

    No interest at all, discovered the joys of high cuv seating in a subcompact but jumped straight to compact for an actual purchase.

  • avatar

    Prior to us leasing a GLC, we tried the X3, Q5, Stelvio and looked at a used GLE and SQ5. All sporty, small utes. Even with the Stelvio and SQ5, there was not much fun to be had sitting that high. They were quick enough, but not much fun.

    After riding in the CR-V recently, I don’t get why people just don’t buy that instead. It’s quieter, better built, much cheaper and will last in ways those others will not.

    If you want a small ute, just get that and call it a day.

    The lux rides don’t feel much better than what that Honda does. I’d imagine the CX-5 gets even closer.

  • avatar

    The largest market for the “tweener” CUV segment is the one btwn the compact and proper 3-row midsize (Santa Fe, Sorento, Edge, Murano, Passport, etc.).

  • avatar

    I can see myself having a Charlton Heston moment at some point in my life. No, I won’t come down off a mountain with Styrofoam commandments. Well, I guess I can’t commit to not doing that entirely. But… they’ll have to pry my sedan from my cold, dead hands.

  • avatar

    I REALLY want to love the Encore GX but that 3-cylinder engine? Yikes.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I dont know if the Hyundai Venue is a tweener, but at the recent SF auto show, my 16 year-old son, a 60 year old black dude, and 50 year old white guy me all thought it was a very cool ride. A pretty broad demographic that day thought it was very attractive.

    Seeing as how was seemingly designed for young women, I’d guess they are going to do well with it. It’s cute yet not so cute as to repel men.

    It was in the “denim” configuration with great looking blue paint and a white top. Derivative of Mini perhaps, but it looked great all the same.

    Probably not a tweener actually, its a subcompact CUV / hatch.

  • avatar

    Nope. I’d rather have the ones in the compact class rather than these. All of the mass-market entries in both classes are 100 percent bland and dull except for the upcoming RAV4 Prime and the expensive turbo CX-5, but the compact ones are at least packaged way better, especially in the back seat and cargo area.

  • avatar

    Not in the slightest bit no

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