SUV vs Crossover – What’s the difference?
The SUV has spread like wildfire across America for the past decade, but now the CUV is starting to grow in popularity. But a lot of people don’t really know the difference between an SUV and a crossover. Don’t worry I’m here to help.
Recently I was discussing with a friend my growing fondness for station wagons. I understand it’s not a popular stance, because people associate the station wagon with the old Buick Estate of the 1970’s. You know the one I’m talking about. With the wood on the sides. The one in all the old movies about road trips and stuff. You know, a station wagon.
For some reason when I go down this path with people they react like someone who’s been stabbed in the eye with a spoon.
My friend hit me with the same question I usually encounter when I proclaim my adoration of estates, “Station wagons? Like with the wood on the sides?”
Here’s the thing. I know for a fact this guy was born in the 1990’s, a cool 20 years after the wood-paneled wagon days. His only memory of a wagon is entirely based on a Chevy Chase movie that he saw when was like eight.
Which is sad really because if he knew better then he would know there’s a ton of badass wagons out there. Most of which America sadly misses out on.
That’s right, here in Freedom Land we love to hate on wagons and it’s always perplexed me because the reality is that the station wagon is responsible for creating the biggest automotive sector in the states.
In fact, the beloved Suburban, the poster boy for big SUV’s, can trace its roots back all the way to 1935 when its namesake was “The Carryall Suburban”. It is General Motors longest continuous automobile nameplate and is hailed as being one of the first full metal bodied station wagons.
Ironically enough the classification of an SUV is defined as being a “station wagon or estate with off-road capabilities”.
Oh, and that word “estate”. Across the pond, they call station wagons “estates”. And a quarter-pounder with cheese is called “a royale with cheese”. They got the same things we got over here, just a little different you know.
What is an SUV?
It’s no secret I hate SUV’s. I even put in my Will and Testament that I don’t want any at my funeral. The reason I hate them is that SUV’s are total frauds and they personify all of the things wrong with our society.
Just like fast food combo meals the SUV has grown in size exponentially over the years. The Suburban is so big it’s literally a joke. I think the new one might even be larger than my first apartment.
And that’s not the worst part. As they have ballooned in size over the years they continuously lose more and more of their “sportiness”. By “sportiness” I mean they have lost their basic drive-ability. It’s a total shocker considering the Suburbans curb weight of 5,800 pounds. I mean the thing is so big it has its own gravity.
Come to think of it that must be why everyone who drives one of these monstrosities is always flowing carelessly into my lane. It’s not actually them, it’s me. My car is being sucked into their gravitational pull.
Why do people even buy SUV’s? Well, I asked someone this recently and their response was, “Oh, I just have to have an SUV”. The weird thing about this is that her response wasn’t even an answer to my question. It was just an arbitrary exclamation. And that’s the case with big SUV owners. Their motives are mysterious. They are mysterious. When she finally got around to answering the question she said, and I quote, “I have kids”.
What the hell does that have to do with anything? Kids are the smallest of all the humans outside of the extremely elder. So why are we building bigger and bigger cars for the smallest people on the planet?
I mean this – it makes no sense. This is the dumbest argument for SUV’s ever crafted.
It’s not like kids need the headroom they haven’t developed past three feet tall. It’s not like they require more seat space as they are roughly the size of a thirty-pound bag of dog food.
Some people say they are referring to their teenagers and that’s still a stupid ass thing to say. You know how I know that it’s a stupid thing to say? Because I’ve physically seen teenagers. They aren’t that big either. Like 1% of the population is big enough to warrant that response.
Maybe SUV’s need to exist so we have a place to put the 42 pack of watermelons we picked up at Costco. Who knows? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
SUV’s have grown to disgusting proportions and continue to do so every year. Like idiots, we keep buying them. As a result, the new Suburban comes with a paltry starting price of $50,000. That’s right – fifty G’s. Enough to put little Johnny through college.
Looking purely at the facts here’s what you get when you buy a new Suburban:
- Spend $ 50,000 on an SUV with no options, because you’re not Bill Gates.
- Lose 20% of the car’s value in the first year of ownership due to depreciation.
- Assuming you’re not picking up the kids (which is why you bought this piece of shit in the first place) you will spend about $2,000 in fuel your first year.
- Congrats, in year one you only lost $12,000.
Why does any of this matter?
Well, SUV’s are the largest sector in the U.S. Auto industry. In fact, Ford recently announced it will be reducing it’s entire line up to basically SUV’s, trucks, and the Mustang. Finally, a manufacturer decision that makes sense.
And with the competition in the industry being so fierce manufacturer’s are launching model updates every four to five years which further drives down the value of used vehicles and steepens the depreciation curve.
It’s a recipe for consumer disaster that’s saved the auto industry and spawned a whole new balloon in the auto loan industry.
SUV’s and Auto Loans
It’s weird that as SUV’s have increased in popularity so has the average auto loan. As of the time of writing this article automotive data house Edmund’s announced that their research showed the average auto loan to be $30,000.
Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation and I don’t have the energy to research this across the industry but it’s odd that as SUV’s grow in demand (and cost) so do auto loan terms.
It’s not just the amount of the auto loan that’s concerning, it’s also the terms. More and more 72-month and even 84 and 96-month loan terms are being underwritten.
It’s a balloon waiting to happen. Dealerships are selling SUV’s for outrageous prices, offering long and harmful loan terms to entice buyers with low monthly payments, and then in four years, they offer that same buyer the chance to roll their negative equity into another long-term loan on a more expensive SUV. Talk about shackles.
Of course, I can’t prove this, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. Hold on while I adjust my tin foil hat.
Surely there has to be an end to the SUV craze in sight? Is everyone taking crazy pills? Well, apparently not. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, in comes the “CUV”.
What is a Crossover Vehicle?
That’s right baby the CUV, or “crossover utility vehicle” is technically defined as an SUV combined with elements of a passenger vehicle.
I’ll break that down for you.
A CUV sits a little higher than a car and sort of looks like it could be an SUV. This sounds oddly familiar. It almost sounds like what we used to call station wagons.
Have we come full circle? Are wagons making a comeback? How did we end up here? I thought American’s hated station wagons?
Well, CUV’s have been around for a while now. I mean since the late 1940’s. The term CUV was a catchphrase that was coined in 2008 to describe consumer confusion on what constituted an SUV and a vehicle that only looked like an SUV, but drove like a passenger car.
But the term CUV really evokes a more existential question, did the SUV ever really exist, or were SUV’s something else entirely all along?
When you think about it, the definition of an SUV actually seems to describe a crossover pretty damn well – “a station wagon or estate with off-road capabilities”, and if that’s the case then what the hell is an SUV?
Believe it or not the definition of a “truck” more accurately represents an SUV – “A motor vehicle used for transporting goods, materials, or troops”. In other words, a motor vehicle used to transport the stuff you bought at Costco and your kid’s soccer team.
When you look at the classes it’s easy to see why consumers were so confused.
The auto industry has a knack for doing this type of thing. History is littered with confusing vehicles like the PT Cruiser, The Chevy SSR, and the Scion xB.
SUV vs Crossover which is better?
Because automakers group the two classes together consumers have a difficult time telling them apart. The reality is very few people have a need for something that most manufacturers deem an “SUV”. Trucks like the Tahoe and Suburban are pretty much excess vehicles outside of large families.
If you need to do towing, you might be forced into one of those two options due to the higher displacement motors they offer.
But for the average family of four, plus a pupper or two, vehicles like the Subaru Outback are a solid choice.
The reason being that they are extremely versatile and easier to drive. Smaller CUV’s offer plenty of seating, space, and storage while maintaining a high degree of driveability and they’re cheaper.
At the end of the day, automakers have to respond to consumer input. Large SUV’s are entirely unnecessary for most average families. They cost more, drive poorly, and offer less flexibility than their CUV counterparts.
So, if you’re currently in the market for an SUV, I urge you to test drive any of the recommendations on our post: Best Crossover SUV That Money Can Buy, and if you still insist on an SUV check out our piece: The Best Luxury SUV and see what you should really be shopping for.
At a minimum go forth with your new knowledge and let the masses know that SUV’s are nothing more than station wagon trucks masked by clever marketing. Watch as the SUV loving masses fall into disarray and continue to be ever vigilant in exposing the auto industries most wretched creation for what it truly is.