Auto enthusiasts are, at their core, romantic about the driving experience. They envision driving experiences on deserted mountain roads, twisting and winding and pushing their ride’s handling capabilities to the limit. For purists, this includes a stick shift, rear-wheel drive and a light, nimble chassis.
Ask an automotive forum what kind of car fits your needs – odds are, unless you’re hauling a ton of cargo, you’ll be met with a lot of answers reading “Mazda Miata” or some kind of a hot hatch.
To that end, there was some outcry in the enthusiast community recently when Ford announced that they’d be halting production and selling of their non-SUV, non-truck cars (save for the Mustang) in North America. The culprit is one that the community is all-too familiar with: the crossover.
Crossovers have been gaining in popularity for years now. In a way, they represent the best of both worlds for most car buyers – the utility of an SUV with the fuel economy of a sedan – but to enthusiasts, they’re often lacking the soul and driving experience provided by sedans and coupes.
Still, there’s no denying their popularity – while the top three most sold cars in 2017 were, as always, pickup trucks (in order: F150, Silverado, Ram), crossovers take up a whole lot of real estate on the sales charts. In fact, for the three largest Japanese manufacturers (Honda, Toyota and Nissan) all saw crossovers top their internal sales charts. Toyota’s RAV4 is, coincidentally, the fourth-best selling car in America, while Nissan’s Rogue and Honda’s CR-V aren’t far behind. That’s more than the Civic, Accord, and Corolla – three of the highest-selling cars of all-time.
Have car owners sold their souls for practicality, or is it time to embrace the crossover overlords?
Here’s where this blog post heads into some editorialized territory: I (the author) consider myself a car enthusiast. My last car, one of the last two-door Accords to roll out of Honda’s factory, wasn’t the sportiest thing around, but it was a blast to drive and had a ton of character. But after a while, two doors aren’t enough.
I was staunchly against the idea of buying a crossover when it came time to get a new ride. I looked at just about every affordable sedan I could find, and was agonizing over whether to get a new, four-door Accord or go with the Toyota Camry.
It took one test drive to change my mind on both my car search and on crossovers in general.
If you’d told me a week ago that I’d be driving a RAV4 around town, I would have been devastated. But after a few days with it, I can see why they’re so popular. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world – but here are a few reasons why auto enthusiasts are wrong (gasp!) about the crossover craze.
When I bought my Accord, I was sure that there was plenty of space. After all, there was plenty of trunk space for a Costco run and to haul around my laptop. Moving across the country on a budget very quickly changed my mind – and getting a dog shortly after was the final straw. It’s not just about trunk space – it’s far more comfortable for passengers, better for storage and, despite spending a lot of my weekend time on a couch, gives me the option of throwing a bike or a snowboard in the back and going on an adventure.
Sticker prices for crossovers and sedans don’t typically differ all that much, but generally speaking, dealer supply for crossovers is still (slightly) ahead of customer demand. That means it’s fairly easy to get a deal on them – especially with mainstay sedans like the Accord and Camry recently undergoing facelifts – leading to a better overall deal.
My favorite thing about my previous Accord was its low ride – it made everything feel more visceral – leading to a fun driving experience where I could truly feel the road. Crossovers are a different experience entirely. Not only is it great to see over cars in traffic, but getting fast food and driving in construction-heavy areas are far more pleasant experiences now. The added ground clearance will also come in handy once winter starts, being from a snow-heavy region.
Fun In Its Own Way
Granted that I wasn’t going from a sports car to a crossover, just a typical sedan, but contrary to popular belief, it’s actually possible to have fun in these things! It’s a bit of a different sensation, but the ride height and softer suspension add a little bit of inertia when accelerating, braking and going around corners.