Opinion: Maybe Crossovers Aren't So Bad, After All?

opinion maybe crossovers aren t so bad after all

Maybe it’s just automotive Stockholm Syndrome, but after 15 years of testing vehicles, a huge percentage of which have been crossover SUVs, I’m ready to say it: Crossovers aren’t so bad.

Yeah, I know, you’re going to ask me to blink twice if I am OK, but hear me out.

First of all, I still remain a fan of rip-roaring sports cars, but let’s face it – even during boom times, sports cars are a small part of the market.

Second, I remain a steadfast sedan man. I am NOT, to be clear, suggesting I’ve abandoned that position. I still find that sedans, particularly mid-sizers, can get the job done for many drivers and their families.

Nor am I arguing here that crossovers are better than wagons (few of which remain), minivans, or body-on-frame SUVs. It would be a fool’s errand to try to argue what segment of vehicles is the “best”.

I am merely saying that for all the crap that we enthusiasts and auto journalists fling at crossovers, maybe only a small bit of it is actually justified?

Again, I get the arguments that wagons and minivans can do utility better than crossovers and that crossovers only exist because, for people of certain ages (particularly older Millennials and most, if not all, of Gen X), wagons and minivans get unfairly written off as deeply uncool. And you know what? I am not going to argue that crossovers are “better” when it comes to utility, driving dynamics, or even fuel economy. Generally speaking, they aren’t.

But I am starting to understand the appeal. Most crossovers DO look better than most minivans, and while some wagons are sexy AF (looking at you, Jaguar XF Sportbrake), most aren’t going to make me look at them the way Homer Simpson looks at a pork chop.

Fuel economy, or at least range if not mpg, is generally acceptable. I’ve given up hope when it comes to sporty driving – few crossovers do it well, and even fewer do it well without costing way too much – but most ride well enough. Most are comfortable, and most handle cargo just fine. I can see why people who have what marketers call “active lifestyles” and/or people who cart around a plethora of passengers and/or pets like them.

Crossovers just simply offer a jack-of-all-trades balance, and some manage to even look reasonably stylish. Minivans don’t often look cool (with apologies to our resident van fan, Matt P.), and while wagons can turn heads, too many don’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I mourn the dwindling of the mid-size sedan as much as anyone, and I believe that sedans can do more in terms of cargo and passenger hauling than most folks realize. I still believe mid-sizers have a place in the world, and unless practicality forces my hand, my next daily will almost certainly be a sporty sedan of the compact or mid-size class.

I still won’t argue that crossovers are the best choice for most buyers. But if we’re going to be stuck living in a crossover world, well, it could be far worse.

[Image: Lincoln]

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2 of 93 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jul 11, 2022

    "and most, if not all, of Gen X" Speak for yourself sir, we may be old now but we're not lame... Hatchbacks are nice in a pinch, but they are fundamentally small unpretentious wagons. A coupe or reasonable sized sedan is nice for people hauling and the driving experience. An SUV should be the big stonkin' truck people won't be able to afford to drive soon, but it has a place. The crossover has no place, it is an aberration which has no real point to exist.

  • Polka King Polka King on Jul 15, 2022

    Crossovers are the ideal vehicle. Anything else is crippled one way or another. If you are an auto journalist, all you care about is how fast it goes, but nobody else cares about that.

  • Master Baiter The D-bag elites like Al Gore demanding that we all switch to EVs are the type of people who don't actually drive. They get chauffeured around in black Yukon Denalis. Tesla does have a good charging network--maybe someday they will produce a car that doesn't suck.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird As a Challenger GT awd owner I lIke it’s heritage inspired styling a lot. There’s a lot of 66-67 as well as 68-70 Charger in there. It’s refreshing that it doesn’t look like a blob like Tesla, Volt/Bolt, Mach-e BMW I whatever etc. The fact that it’s a hatch makes it even better as a everyday driver thus eliminating the need for a CUV. If it’s well built and has a reliable track record I can see trading up to it in a few years.
  • Jbawden I thought sedans were dead? Coupes even more so. The core Charger/Challenger buyer is in it for the Hemi. To whom is this and the presumed EV Camaro marketed to? The ICE versions of these cars have a LOT of shortcomings, but rear drive, a V8, and a Tremec 6 speed made all that disappear. If you're forcing me into a 1,000hp appliance, then give me some visibility and practicality while your at it. And for the love of all things holy, please allow me to maintain a little dignity by leaving off the ridiculous space jam sound effects. What out of touch focus group think approved that? It's almost as embarrassing as the guy who signed off on the Pontiac Aztec.
  • Jalop1991 The simple fact is, America and Americans excel at building complex things (bridges, for example) but absolutely SUCK at maintaining them. We're too busy moving on to the next new shiny thing that a politician can get good airtime for. Fixing the bridge? Not sexy. Cutting the ribbon at a new EV charge site? Photo-op worthy. Demanding that the owner of said charging site be accountable and not let his site become the EV equivalent of a slum? Hard and not a newsworthy event.I have a PHEV and once tried some sort of public charging, just to see what happens. Failed miserably. We'd all be riding horses today if gas stations performed like EV charge stations do.
  • SCE to AUX Apps like PlugShare prove a few points:[list][*]Tesla's charging network is the best, almost always earning a 10/10.[/*][*]Dealer chargers are the worst, often blocked (ICE'd) or inaccessible behind a locked gate.[/*][*]Electrify America chargers aren't bad; my few experiences with them have been quite good. But they are also very new.[/*][*]Calling the help line is nearly useless.[/*][*]There are still charging gaps in high-travel flyover areas, which coincidentally have a lot of "Trump" flags waving in them.[/*][/list]As an EV driver and engineer, I don't understand how public chargers get so screwed up. They are simple devices. My home charger is 10 years old and has never missed a beat, but it only gets one cycle a day and lives indoors.