What is a crossover?

What is a crossover?

How do you define a car as a crossover and what examples fit different size categories?

Crossovers have grown dramatically in popularity over the last ten or so years and are nowadays a key pillar in the UK motoring scene. But what actually is a crossover? Is there a clear definition for crossovers which allows us to separate them from other types of cars like SUVs and estates?

There’s really no strict definition for the term ‘crossover’ in the motoring industry, but each car that has been classed by their makers as a crossover do have certain things in common.

Crossovers are cars typically based on car platforms (likely a supermini or hatchback) but which have design features reminiscent of either a SUV, estate or possibly even both. Crossovers can come with front-wheel, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive powertrains but are predominantly designed to be driven on the road. Even crossovers with heavy SUV styling are at best capable of only some light off-road driving.

Small crossovers

Many of the smallest crossovers are based on supermini platforms. Current examples include the Renault Captur, which shares the same platform as the Clio, and the Ford EcoSport, which uses the same platform as the latest Fiesta.

Other popular entries in this category include the Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka and Peugeot 2008. Compared to superminis, small crossovers have a significantly taller ride height and chunkier body panels which give them a lot more road presence but in terms of actual size and length, there’s hardly any difference.

Medium crossovers

Medium-sized (or mid-sized) crossovers have been around longer than smaller crossovers and feature some very well established model names. Crossovers in this category are a little larger than family hatchbacks but certain estate cars can be longer in comparison.

Current entries in the mid-crossover segment include the SUV-styled Nissan Qashqai, one of the earliest and most popular examples of a crossover car in Britain and the rest of Europe. Other entries include the Ford Kuga, Skoda Yeti, Honda CR-V, Renault Kadjar and Toyota RAV4.

Large crossovers

The term crossover is less commonly used for cars that are significantly larger than the likes of the Qashqai, but there are still some current examples like the BMW X6, which is marketed by BMW as a ‘Sports Activity Coupe’.

For advice on which crossovers are best to buy, check out our guides on the best mid-sized crossovers to buy or, for smaller entries, read our guide to the best alternatives to the Nissan Juke.

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