In much the same way that automotive tastes of previous decades were defined by muscle cars, minivans, and SUVs, the new era may well belong to a hybrid of sorts: the crossover utility vehicle, or CUV. According to recent information from the Wall Street Journal, sales of crossover vehicles have outpaced that of every other vehicle type–up more than 30% from this time in 2014. The only other segment that was even competitive with crossovers were luxury SUVs, which could often be lumped into the same category.
Luxury auto makers have certainly not missed the boat on the recent trend either. Tesla recently released their “Model X,” a crossover utility vehicle that sells for $80,000 and features “falcon-wing” doors that open upward. According to several reports, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz all have plans to compete with Tesla in making a crossover electric vehicle of their own.
Ford is banking on the future of their popular crossover vehicle, the Escape, which promises to bring plenty of new high-tech functionality to the latest version of their popular crossover. Some of the features it will include are remote starting capability, parking assist, and implementation of Ford’s Ecoboost technology, which provides power without sacrificing gas mileage. It’s become one of Ford’s best-selling vehicles and become a threat to Honda’s CR-V for the title of the most popular crossover utility vehicle on the market.
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Why Are Crossover Utility Vehicles Are So Popular
Crossover vehicles have traditionally been a safe vehicle in terms of crash ratings, though that was not always the case with sports utility vehicles. When larger SUVs were popular, there were some legitimate safety concerns due to their potential for rolling over, but those have since been addressed. Recent numbers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have indicated that SUVs are now actually safer than cars, probably due in some part to their implementation of electronic stability control on newer models.
Crossovers are appealing because they do offer the safety and high visibility of an SUV, but with less weight and a lower center of gravity. They have many of the same the perks of an SUV–large cargo area, extra seating, and all wheel drive–but without the precarious feeling that you’re behind the wheel of a massive vehicle that takes up the entire lane.
For families, crossover vehicles have been a particularly popular choice. Some have additional seating and most have ample room in the trunk that’s hard to find in a sedan. Crossovers handle the elements a little better too, but with better gas mileage than a truck. For campers and outdoor adventurers, the utility of a crossover is a real treat since the seats are often designed to lay flat and create even more usable space inside the vehicle.
Unlike a sedan, a crossover utility vehicle can tow some items like small campers and boats, ATVs, jet skis, and trailers. It’s important to keep in mind that there are manufacturer limits on towing capacity that should be followed, but the high clearance and extra muscle of a CUV is one of the many reasons they’re so often chosen at the car lots and auto dealerships across the country.
Review of the Most Popular Crossover Vehicles
According to the popular auto website Edmunds.com, the Honda CR-V is one of the most researched vehicles of 2015, with several other crossovers not far behind. In this section, we’ll take a brief look at the CR-V, as well as some of the other most popular crossovers and some of their features.
Honda CR-V – Combing a sleek look, affordable price, and great fuel economy, the Honda CR-V is one of the most popular models of crossovers for a reason. With plenty of interior room, it can comfortable accommodate several passengers, or easily store plenty of cargo. The rear seats fold down to increase cargo space and it comes equipped with an abundance of performance and safety oriented tech features.
Toyota RAV4 – Like the Honda CR-V, the RAV4 is economical both in terms of cost of fuel use. Outfitted with the same spacious interior that has become the hallmark of CUVs, the RAV4 also comes with Bluetooth capability, an interior backup camera, and eight air bags.
Subaru Forester – The Subaru Forester was one of the first “compact SUVs”, helping define the durable hybrid vehicle today that we know as the crossover. With its early station-wagon-like feel with all wheel drive that was capable of handling more rugged conditions, the Forester has evolved into a modern version that is equipped with all the bells and whistles of the competitors.
Nissan Rogue – 2015 has been a banner year for the Nissan Rogue, with monthly sales up nearly 70% over the previous year. Since their sales started a steady climb in 2013, the Rogue has been one of Nissan’s most popular offerings in the U.S., steadily closing the gap between their sales numbers and those of the Honda CR-V in the crossover market.
Ford Escape – In addition to the features mentioned above, the Ford Escape provides a very smooth ride, deftly handling the inconsistencies of city streets and smoothly swinging around the winding curves of mountain roads with ease. Comfort and fuel economy combine with modern technology to make the Escape one of the best values for a crossover SUV.
Mazda CX-5 – A sportier crossover, the Mazda CX-5 has made improvements each year since it hit the market including a classy remake of the interior planned for the 2016 model. A larger touch screen and roomier interior, along with a host of high-tech safety features, make the CX-5 a fun, agile crossover capable of going anywhere you want it to take you.
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