Crossovers are an increasingly common site on British roads. But what actually is a ‘crossover’ car and should you consider one the next time you need a new vehicle?
Here’s a beginners’ guide.
What is a crossover?
Crossovers are sometimes described as taking the best bits of other vehicles, a mish-mash of other ranges. Best bits often include the taller driving position of larger 4x4s and the more compact dimensions of a hatchback.
To get bit technical, Car supermarket Wilsons has a more precise definition of a crossover, describing them as ‘vehicles built on a car platform using 'unibody' architecture - where the chassis and bodywork have been integrated into one another’. The Renault Captur crossover, for example, shares its platform with the Renault Clio.
So, by buying a crossover, you get a vehicle that looks like a smaller SUV.
Why are crossovers so popular?
The Nissan Qashqai is credited with starting the crossover trend, with other manufacturers quickly following suit and releasing their own versions of a crossover.
These days, crossover buyers are spoilt for choice. They may opt for a family-sized crossover, including the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca, or a compact crossover, such as the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka X.
Should you buy a crossover?
According to Carbuyer, crossovers offer the advantages of an SUV - such as space - with the running costs of a family hatchback.
Other reasons crossovers are popular include the comfort and perceived safety offered by raised ride height. They also provide tough off-road looks, without the higher running costs.
Crossovers also tend to score highly on reliability. The 2020 Which? Car Survey showed that the small SUVs and crossovers (0-3 years old) car class is the least likely to break down.
But the consumer group adds a note of caution. It says that many crossovers don’t live up to expectations. Pick the wrong one and you could end up driving a car with “mediocre fuel economy, middling driving experience, little safety equipment and so-so passenger space”.
There’s a vast range to choose from and each model needs to be considered on its own merits. But if you want something in between a large SUV and a hatchback, you’re likely to consider a crossover.
Which crossover should I buy?
There’s a huge amount of choice. Autocar’s top pick among family crossovers is the Cupra Formentor, partly because it offers premium-level allure at a lower price.
For Auto Express, the Renault Captur is the best, noting that it looks the part and drives well too. Carwow’s number one pick among crossovers is the Peugeot 2008, for reasons including its styling and good size boot.
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