A few years ago, a family car was just that – a car. But in recent times, the boundaries have blurred, with more and more people moving towards increasingly different types of vehicle to suit their family motoring needs.
Two of the most popular types of car on the market right now are SUVs and crossovers, both of which are chunky cars with a raised ride height and high driving position. But what are the key differences?
What is an SUV?
An SUV is a car designed from the ground-up to be a chunky off-road style vehicle, though these aren’t to be confused with full-on 4x4 off-roaders, as the driving characteristics are very different.
Quite a few, but not all, SUVs are four-wheel-drive, and many are also seven-seaters. They’re generally taller, wider and longer than crossovers, and are more geared up for heavier duty work, such as towing or light off-roading.
That said, car-like handling is a focus, too – SUVs have unitary body construction (unlike 4x4s, which usually have a separate chassis), and are quite stiff as a result.
Our favourite SUVs on the market right now are the Volvo XC60, SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq, all of which offer great dynamics, quality and equipment levels at a sensible price.
What is a crossover?
A crossover is a car that once had an identity crisis, but has since gone from niche interest to being the fastest growing sector of the car market, with every car manufacturer clamouring to get in on the act.
A crossover is normally based on a car platform, but with a slightly raised ride height and chunky body protection. The extent at which it differs from a ‘normal’ car can be as little as a few tweaks such as taller springs and skid trays, such as the Skoda Octavia Scout, to more purpose-built crossover models such as the Vauxhall Mokka X and Kia Niro.
The key advantage is that a crossover is often cheaper to run than an SUV, as it weighs little more than its hatchback or estate equivalent. As many (but not all) are two- rather than four-wheel-drive, this also delivers fuel economy benefits.
They’re also generally smaller and easier to park and manoeuvre, yet still have the advantages of a raised ride height and good all-round visibility.
Our favourite crossovers on the market right now are the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Karoq and BMW X2.
Which is best for me?
If you have a family and just need the one car, then an SUV is probably the better bet. Yes, it’ll normally be more expensive, but as your children grow up the car will still fit them, while the boot will be big enough for family holidays. They’re also better for towing if you have a caravan or trailer tent.