Crossovers often get confused with SUVs, and some manufacturers even sell their crossovers under the name “SUV.” Not only do automakers and dealers tend to blur the two terms, but even the consumers have frequently mistaken them.
It’s time to clear out the confusion. To help you find out which one is right for you, get to know more about the differences and similarities between these vehicles.
The term SUV is an acronym for Sports Utility Vehicle. It combines the features of passenger cars with some of the innovations of off-road vehicles.
Automakers initially visualized the crossover as a sedan with truck-like qualities. Some will even say it’s a more modern name for a station wagon. In the United States, some carmakers use the term “crossover SUVs,” but these may not be the same as the standard crossover because of the size variation.
Design-wise—the passenger cars have trunks (or rear compartments), while the crossovers and SUVs have rear top-notched lift gates (or sometimes called tailgates or rear hatch doors). Modern crossovers show a compelling concept by merging the refinement of a passenger car with the height and seating capacity of a sport utility vehicle. Nevertheless, the old-school body-on-frame SUVs are still better for towing and off-roading.
When you compare a crossover and an SUV side-by-side, you will notice much disparity, such as the following:
Manufacturers based the crossovers on typical passenger cars. They assemble the frame and the body as a single structure, creating a unified passenger and cargo space. However, they are almost always smaller than SUVs.
Did you know that many car manufacturers are beginning to offer more modern crossovers? They are now replacing the old style of frames with new unibody designs. But you can still find a few old-school sport utility vehicles on the market.
Even though the manufacturers separated the chassis, they bolted it with the steel-made ladder frame. These frames can be extendable depending on the automaker’s design, and they come in multiple sizes. The engine, suspension, wheels, transmission, and bodywork skin are all attached to the frame.
Automakers have built pickup trucks in the same manner, and it’s the preferred method for creating off-road vehicles. The body-on-frame setup is beneficial for towing and provides greater torsional flexing as well.
- Ground clearance
Some roads can be covered with many potholes, while others are bumpy and rough. It would be best to consider the ground clearance when choosing between a crossover and an SUV as it provides more space between the underbody of the car and the road below.
SUVs have raised ground clearance and higher ride heights. The average ground clearance is between 6 to 8 inches. On the contrary, the solid unibody structures of crossovers have lower ride heights. They provide easy handling in city traffic and even sharp narrow turns. However, they can fit only smaller wheels and tires.
Carmakers formed the chassis and platform of crossovers into one structure to take the shape of the vehicle. In the event of a collision, the built-in crumple zones make them safer. However, they are expensive to repair because the damage can be more substantial. To fix the damage, it
is best to seek help from a trained technician that uses specialized equipment.
To make the SUVs sturdier to resist torsion, they have a ladder frame made from reinforced steel. However, they have a higher center of gravity, which makes the body more likely to roll at sudden tight turns.
- Fuel Economy
Since the crossover has a body and frame built together as a single structure, it’s generally lighter than the SUV’s body-on-frame setting. Due to the lighter weight of the wagon, it’s often more fuel-efficient.
One of the downsides of driving a large car is its fuel efficiency. Some people classify the SUVs as light trucks—along with minivans and pickup trucks meaning that its fuel efficiency matches this. Under the two primary laws, the Clean Air Act (CAA) for emissions and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) for fuel economy, they are regulated less strictly than passenger cars.
- Off-road capabilities
SUVs have better off-road body types, considering that crossovers are far better on the road. Although Jeep Cherokee and Ford Bronco Sport are considered crossovers, they have advanced terrain management systems to withstand rough road conditions.
The 4wd parts ensure that the vehicles will perform remarkably off-road. Ford Bronco and Jeep Wranglers are some of the more well-known models with low-range 4×4 gearing. The Jeep Wrangler is popularly modified to improve its performance. Moreover, the Ford Bronco’s astounding EcoBoost engine is what makes it one of the most preferred SUVs for off-roading.
Based on car designs, the crossovers provide a more comfy ride. However, you will not see an outstanding suspension performance from it. On the other hand, the SUVs have larger wheels and better suspension travel because of their advanced suspension parts and drivetrain.
Most large segment SUVs have shock absorbers to dampen the compression efficiently and control the spring motion. The wheels also have extra vertical room to travel, so you’ll notice that it has broader and bigger fender flares.
Toyota’s 4Runner and Land Cruiser, and Land Rover’s Defender and Range Rover are great options. Also, the Jeep variants such as Wrangler and Grand Cherokee have four-wheel-drive with adjustable air suspension systems.
- Size of wheels and tires
Both pickup trucks and SUVs use specific tires depending on the purpose and road surfaces.
These days, some truck tires work well on sports utility vehicles because they’re essentially the same. If truth be told, these tires are often sold in the same category because the full-size SUVs and pickup trucks require tires with the same qualifications. Though, various models may still have specific tire fitment. Checking the manual is still recommended to ensure the size compatibility and speed rating of the vehicle.
- Luxury model
Some automakers advertise their crossovers as “luxury,” but it’s more conspicuous in the full-size SUV market.
On every Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, the off-road capabilities are standard. Still, not all owners actually drive it on a rugged trail. This all-wheel-drive vehicle is considered a luxury icon with its stunning design unchanged for more than 40 years. It has premium features, including fancy cabin materials, spacious seats, a high-tech infotainment system, and of course, the AMG trim.
The Mercedes Benz G-class started as a military vehicle in the 1970s. Nine years later, the German manufacturer offered the first civilian model to the public. The G in its name is short for “Geländewagen” which means terrain vehicle in English.
- Cabin space
The limited cabin space in a crossover will suffice, especially if you have a family of 3 (up to 4) or drive the car yourself. It has a roomy interior, but not as big as the space you can get from most sport utility vehicles. With many models categorized as mid-sized or full-sized, SUVs tend to be bulkier and have roomier cabins and leg space than a crossover.
Match your lifestyle
Other than buggies and pickup trucks, SUVs are a popular choice when it comes to off-roading. They have an extra-strong structure, heavy-duty suspensions, and you can replace the stock parts with bigger wheels and tires. A crossover is an excellent option for city and highway driving for its superb handling and comfortable ride quality.
Constructed using two entirely distinct vehicle building processes, you can now differentiate crossovers from sport utility vehicles. Are you ready to pick one? Despite their highly similar design characteristics, you can now determine the boundaries and limitations between these two cars.