Crossover vs. SUV

Two of the most popular vehicle style choices on the modern automotive market, crossovers and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) share certain advantages including practicality, versatility, and comfort. At first glance, their differences may not be obvious, but their internal design and functionality factor into why individuals and families may prefer one to the other based on their lifestyle and driving needs. 

Learn more about these vehicles to help you better decide whether a crossover versus an SUV is right for you.

What is the Difference Between a Crossover and an SUV?

SUVs and crossovers look somewhat similar. Because a crossover can look like a smaller SUV, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two, particularly when comparing a crossover vs. a compact SUV. However, understanding the true definition of each vehicle is the key to pinpointing their distinct differences:

  • Crossovers, as their name suggests, are vehicles that intentionally blend elements of a car and an SUV. They tend to offer the sportier SUV aesthetics alongside greater fuel efficiency. Crossovers handle more like a car, making them a great option for city and highway drivers.
  • SUVs (including compact SUVs) have the DNA of a more rugged vehicle. SUVs are larger than crossover vehicles and have a higher ground clearance. SUVs are truly utility players – equally at home with urban driving as they are with off-roading and outdoor adventuring.

Beneath the surface, crossovers and SUVs feature different frame construction. Crossovers typically employ a unibody construction, meaning that both body and frame are integrated into a single structure. This is the same setup as a standard car like a hatchback or sedan. The lightweight and generally smaller design that crossovers share with cars lends itself to greater fuel-economy and responsive handling. 

On the other hand, SUVs often have a body-on-frame design, meaning that both the vehicle body and the engine are mounted on a separately constructed frame, or chassis. This setup has more in common with a truck, which makes SUVs great for towing, off-roading, and other activities that require added power and ruggedness. Additionally, most SUVs are equipped with powerful all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) drivetrains. Compact SUVs may have either a body-on-frame or unibody build but are generally meant to handle lighter off-roading excursions.

Benefits of Crossovers vs. SUVs

Depending on your needs and preferences, you may find yourself favoring the car-like handling of a crossover or the off-road readiness of an SUV. Learn more below about the features, functionality, and benefits of these two types of vehicles.

Benefits of a Crossover

When it comes to crossovers, the name of the game is versatility. Drivers who live in bustling cities and quiet suburbs may not be as likely to test the limits of their vehicle’s off-road capabilities, but still crave the look of an SUV. A crossover can offer the best of both worlds: the sporty aesthetics of an SUV with the performance and fuel economy of a car. Here are some additional advantages of crossovers: 

  • Fuel efficiency: Their unibody construction and lighter weight gives crossovers more favorable fuel consumption, which can lead to cost savings at the pump.
  • Spaciousness: The interior of a crossover is meant to accommodate a wide range of uses and lifestyles. Most crossovers have a roomy cargo area, as well as collapsible or foldable seats that can create additional space for groceries, sports equipment, and more.
  • Comfort: Crossovers offer a smooth ride, making them ideal for commutes and long road trips.
  • Eco-consciousness: Thanks to their impressive fuel consumption, crossovers tend to leave behind a lower carbon footprint. Additionally, many crossovers are available with hybrid or fully electric drivetrains that can further reduce environmental impact.

Benefits of an SUV

SUVs appeal to a wide range of people for many different reasons. Their sturdy construction and sporty build appeals to off-road adventure seekers, drivers who frequently brave inclement weather or rocky stretches of road, as well as those who regularly transport or tow heavy gear. Some of the added benefits an SUV can offer include: 

  • Passenger capacity: Many SUVs can comfortably seat up to 8 passengers and their gear. This makes them a terrific option for carpooling or taking family and friends on camping trips.
  • Towing: Their frame-on-body construction allows many SUVs to easily tow large items like trailers, boats, and other heavy loads.
  • Ground clearance: Most SUVs are designed to be taken off-road, with higher ground clearance to accommodate uneven terrain, obstacles, and debris that might prove challenging for other, lower-set vehicles.
  • Drivetrain:  SUVs tend to be equipped with a powerful drivetrain — either 4WD or AWD — helping drivers handle all types of weather conditions and terrain with confidence. AWD and 4WD also enable vehicles to scale or descend steep slopes safely.

Which is Better: SUVs vs. Crossovers?

There’s no right or wrong answer when deciding whether an SUV or crossover is better. Rather, it depends on how you plan to use your vehicle. If you love the aesthetics of an SUV, but don’t see yourself driving through muddy off-road paths or up mountain trails, a crossover may be a better fit for you. Conversely, if you’re a city dweller most of the week and a weekend warrior who loves driving off-the-beaten-path, an SUV can offer you the best of both worlds. Similarly, if you’re an avid camper who occasionally tows a boat or camper on your adventures, an SUV with powerful towing capacity may fit the bill!

Find the perfect match for your driving style. Shop Subaru Crossovers and SUVs.

From aesthetics to performance, the right vehicle for you depends on a variety of factors – chief of which is how it fits with your lifestyle. From daily driving to weekend adventures, crossovers, and SUVs each have their own unique qualities that may be a better fit. Ultimately, the choice is up to you! No matter what style of vehicle speaks to you, Subaru offers an exciting lineup of crossovers and SUVs to fit your needs and preferences. 

Explore your options today!