July 19, 2018
Are you looking to buy a new vehicle, potentially one with a high ride height? The vehicle models ‘crossover’ and ‘SUV’ are often used interchangeably, but how many folk really know the difference? It’s important to know what separates them, especially if you are intending to purchase one of them. Just to add to the confusion, both types of vehicle virtually look the same. So read on, and let’s get rid of any uncertainty.
The word ‘crossover’ is a shortened term for a ‘CUV’ or a ‘crossover utility vehicle.’1 A crossover is a vehicle that consists of one body, which is built on a sedan platform. 2 In other words, the chassis and the rest of the body are all one entity. This type of ‘unibody’ construction is used for manufacturing passenger vehicles.
The acronym ‘SUV’ stands for ‘Sports Utility Vehicle.’ Manufacturers of crossover vehicles have combined the characteristics of an SUV with those of a passenger vehicle, with particular reference to a hatchback or station wagon. 1 Some of the SUV features include a raised interior, as well as high ground clearance, AWD, or all-wheel drive (4x4), and a high H-point .3
An H-point, or Hip-point refers to the hip’s position of a vehicle’s occupant relative to the height of the vehicle’s floor or road surface. 3 A high H-point means the hip of an occupant is high above the floor of a vehicle or road surface or both. The position of an occupant’s hip is based on the 50th percentile of a male occupant. Higher H-points for both front and back seats mean more legroom for occupants.
Manufacturers introduced some ‘car’ features in the construction of a crossover. These include independent rear suspension, car-handling characteristics, reduction in overall weight, and improved fuel economy (compared to SUV’s). 1
Some crossover manufacturers have incorporated features from a hatchback or station wagon, as is evident in the two-compartment design of the crossover. This design refers to the shared passenger and luggage spaces, which people can access via a third or fifth door. Manufacturers have also borrowed the idea of the fold-down seat capability of cars. 1
Manufacturers did not design crossovers to go off-roading like SUV’s do, although some light off-road driving is possible. 1
SUVs are constructed on truck platforms. Its design is based on that of a station wagon, with typical off-road vehicle characteristics, such as a high ground clearance, and a sturdy build. 4 Even though they are meant for off-road driving, most owners use them on smooth tar roads and highways.
Typical of an SUV is a tall body structure, a raised interior, and seating, as well as a high centre of gravity. Finally, they have a 4x4 capability for off-road driving. A twin-cab SUV has married the passenger comfort and space, typical of a large car, with the towing capability of a pickup truck. 4 In fact, SUVs have the same structural design as a pickup truck, which includes the steering, suspension, powertrain, and wheelbase. 2 This is why in some countries, such as the USA, SUVs are placed in the ‘light truck’ category.
SUVs have become so popular, that in 2015, they comprised 22.9% of all light vehicle sales worldwide, or 36.8% of all passenger cars worldwide. The two-door SUVs are not as popular as the 4- to 5-door variants. 4
Ford and Chevrolet are largely SUV manufacturers because they have already been designing pickup truck platforms. Mazda and Hyundai, on the other hand, only make crossovers seeing they have only ever designed car platforms. 2Next time you see a crossover or a 4x4 SUV travelling along the highway, you will be able to happily explain the difference between the two.