Automotive: not to confuse Crossover and SUVs

Published on : 21 January 202112 min reading time

Nowadays, new technologies continue to grow at a great speed. Specialists and researchers around the world are rushing to find different shapes and options for the manufacture of a vehicle. Lately, we hear about specific types of cars coming out of the factory in all four corners of the globe. It is important to know everything about the features and specifications to make the right choice.

A 4×4 is, first and foremost, a vehicle with permanent all-wheel drive. A “real” 4×4 has a second gearbox called a short gearbox. It is completely useless on the road and is only used to overcome obstacles on rough terrain. In the same way, the front and rear axles are independent so that, whatever the roughness of the terrain, the vehicle always has as many tires as possible on the ground. Finally, some off-road vehicles are equipped with a differential lock system. In summary, a 4×4 is a vehicle with specific equipment that allows it to drive on any type of terrain.


A crossover, or “crossover”, is basically a vehicle inspired by an SUV, but designed on a sedan platform. The term was used in the U.S. to distinguish it from traditional SUVs, which are built on a larger “pickup truck” chassis. The majority of “compact SUVs” in the European market are considered crossovers in the North American sense.

Because of their common architecture with sedans, crossovers generally have the advantage of better handling than SUVs, lower fuel consumption, and lower purchase price.

In Europe, the term “crossover” is really only used to refer to certain sedan-derived SUVs with a sporty station wagon or coupe look. The rest continue to be referred to as SUVs, with no distinction between monohulls and ladder chassis.


The Moskvitch 410 (en) is often regarded as the first crossover test in the history of the automobile4. This model, manufactured from 1957 onwards by the Soviet manufacturer Moskvitch, was an all-wheel drive vehicle built on the basis of the Moskvitch 402 sedan (1956-1958).

In France, from 1977, the collaboration between Matra and Simca led to the manufacture of a precursor model of the crossover, the Rancho.

Since then, the crossover has continued to evolve into a whole new generation of automobile models, notably with the arrival of the Renault Avantime, in 2001, which is a mix of MPV and coupé, but which has failed to appeal to a wide public5.

With growth of 30% between 2003 and 2005 in the United States, the crossover surpassed SUV sales there in 2006.

It wasn’t until the arrival of the Nissan Qashqai in 2007 that this type of vehicle became more widely available in Europe7. Given the success of this model, other automakers invested in this segment by offering their own variant like the Peugeot 3008 or by moving towards SUVs.

Learn all about the SUV vehicle

Currently, we hear the term Suv, which is an acronym for Sport Utility Vehicle. A particular class of vehicle with a raised trim and essentially four-wheel drive. SUVs have an appearance similar to that of a minivan or station wagon, and have certain characteristics similar to those of an off-road vehicle (high ground clearance, four wheel drive). One of the most distinctive elements between SUVs and off-road vehicles is certainly the chassis itself. In fact, SUVs use a load-bearing body, while off-road vehicles are born on a chassis with side rails, which is much more suitable for off-road use. On the mechanical level, we have about the same conditions as the engine. One can distinguish the brands Renault, Peugeot or Volkswagen these days. It should be noted that the SUV can play the role of a utility car to transport goods with its compartment. Chairs can be easily folded down to save space.

The Crossover vehicle to discover

There are different types of crossings. Their name is derived from the acronym “Crossover Utility Vehicle”. It is a car that looks like an SUV, but with features that take it away from an off-road vehicle and bring it closer to a normal station wagon, but with a higher trim. Many of today’s compact Suvs belong in the crossover category, built with a monocoque but with the ability to use a car and not an off-road utility vehicle. These mini-series are not characterized by four-wheel drive, but often adopt two-wheel drive, especially the front wheels. In addition, they have far fewer options than traditional SUVs. They can be found with a gasoline or diesel version. For the last one, an engine with the DCI system is highly recommended . In general, this type of vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission. Different brands, such as the French and German brand rush to this form. The crossover can also play the role of a commercial vehicle. The chairs can be folded down to gain maximum space and carry suitcases and other items.

More information to discover

In the event of an accident, SUVs are considered the safest cars. However, they are likely to tip over because their center of gravity is quite high. This utility vehicle has the following characteristics that make it unique and incomparable: high comfort, luxurious interior living space, high power and finally an enlarged body. SUVs have a good finish and good road performance, even on wet asphalt or ice. On the other hand, they are criticized for their size, which is not suitable for large cities, for the high CO2 values they emit into the air and for their high fuel consumption. According to users’ opinions, these cars are designed for the needs of all kinds of people. Whether it is a private individual or a company, all the ingredients are there to satisfy everyone’s daily needs.

In short, with the evolution of the new information and communication technologies, it is necessary to inform oneself on the net in specialized sites to have a maximum of information on these types of cars. SUV or Crossover, the decision remains with the target audience according to their choice.

Know the difference between a 4×4, an SUV and a Crossover

The 4×4, SUV and Crossover are different cars from each other. Each one of them corresponds to a type of clientele. The 4×4 is designed for off-roading while the SUV is a wagon. As for the Crossover, it refers to a vehicle that mixes the SUV with the characteristics of the sedan or minivan. However, we are seeing more and more crossovers that are displayed as SUVs and vice versa. So how can you make the difference when you want to acquire one of these cars?

The 4×4, a vehicle with different characteristics than an SUV

Literally, the 4×4 is the only true all-terrain car. It is the only one to have a utility chassis, a rear axle and a front axle that are independent of each other. There is also a rigid rear axle and a differential lock. There is also an additional gearbox. In other words, this is a vehicle especially designed for driving on completely improbable trails. So it’s not interesting to have a real 4×4 if you only drive on roads or in urban areas.

The 4×4 has a higher traction capacity than other types of cars. It also has other specific characteristics that you don’t see on an SUV or a Crossover. Also, it is important to know that the new generation 4×4 is less polluting and consumes less fuel. While it remains unsuitable for the urban environment, it is perfectly suited to long trips.

How is the SUV different from the 4×4 and the Crossover?

Agents such as Auto IES offer a wide choice of SUV vehicles. This one is between a minivan and a 4×4. It is designed on a self-supporting body and is often confused with a real 4×4. However, the two cars don’t have much in common except a vague appearance. First of all, it should be noted that the SUV is not very suitable for off-road use. In fact, it’s primarily a vehicle designed for on-road use. Furthermore, the spacious character of an SUV and the equipment it carries on board are perfectly suited to a family clientele. Benefiting from advanced technology, this type of car is often equipped with all-wheel drive, which is not permanent like that of a 4×4.

The craze for the SUV is partly due to a feeling of security that can be felt in its interior. It’s no wonder that this type of vehicle is very popular with women. A survey showed that 4 out of 10 SUV drivers are women.

A vehicle combining the characteristics of an SUV and a sedan

Also designed on a self-supporting body, the Crossover is a sedan for a more sporty clientele. It’s more urban than road-going and less spacious than the 4×4 and SUV. Born out of the craze for the 4×4, the Crossover does not, however, have much in common with the latter. No comparison is, in fact, possible apart from the existence of a 4×4 mode. If you wish to buy this type of car, you should prefer a proxy such as Auto IES which provides more details. Concretely, a Crossover is made up of a bit of SUV and sedan, with some characteristics of a minivan and a station wagon. As far as price is concerned, it is the cheapest of the three. Its maintenance cost is also affordable.

What is a crossover car?

A crossover – also called a “crossover” – is a motor vehicle. It has some of the characteristics of the sedan and others of the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle). In fact, the word “crossover” means “crossover”. This type of city vehicle has a higher body height than a sedan.

The term “crossover” was first used in North America. We are then in the 80’s. However, the first crossover tests predate this era, since Moskvitch developed the first model of this type as early as 1957. Much later, the Rancho was born, the precursor of the crossover and the result of a collaboration between Simca and Matra.

What are the characteristics of a crossover car?

The crossover is mounted on a sedan-type platform, but takes on certain characteristics of an SUV or sometimes a minivan. It is therefore higher than a sedan and has a 4×4 look. However, it is much less spacious than the crossover and the SUV.

A crossover has a relatively comfortable passenger compartment and a trunk that is moderately spacious, except for the largest models. It allows good visibility due to the elevated driving position.

Although it adopts certain SUV and 4×4 aesthetic codes – which has moreover largely contributed to motorists’ enthusiasm for this crossover – it is perfectly suited to driving in an urban environment. Note that the crossover is sometimes confused with an SUV, even though these two categories of vehicles are quite distinct. The crossover has better handling and tends to consume less fuel than the SUV.

Highly secure, it is at least equipped with ABS (Antiblockiersystem), which is none other than the anti-lock braking system, and can even – depending on the model – be equipped with ESP (Electronic Stability Program), an electronic trajectory system.

What are the models of crossover cars?

Most French and foreign manufacturers offer crossovers adapted to every budget, but also to the specific needs of motorists. Equipped with a gasoline or diesel engine, some models are even available in dealerships in electric, hybrid or LPG versions.

Manufacturers offer models with 2 or 4 wheel drive, with automatic or manual gearboxes, 6 or 7 gears. Each type of crossover is equipped with a variable displacement engine, from 1,000 cm³ and up to 4,000 cm³, or even more for the most powerful engines.

As for the interior of a crossover, it can accommodate 4 to 7 people, depending on the range of the vehicle.

How to choose your crossover car?

The choice of a crossover depends on several factors.

The city car is the best choice for trips commonly made in built-up areas.

Of course, the number of people to be transported must be taken into account and, consequently, the capacity of the trunk to store all the luggage. The family versions are ideal for large tribes. They are, moreover, much better adapted to road or highway traffic.

The choice of engine capacity is also important. It’s better to choose a 1,600 cc than a 1,100 cc when you’re usually driving outside built-up areas.

Finally, you can choose a crossover with an automatic or manual transmission, which provides you with a vehicle perfectly suited to your driving style.

But then, what’s the difference with the Crossover and the SUV?

Contrary to 4×4 with its independent axles, Crossovers and SUVs are designed on a self-supporting body. They are only very partially equipped to venture off-road.


From its full name Sport Utility Vehicle, is, most often, a cross between 4×4 and monospace. Most SUVs have a 4WD mode giving them real off-road capabilities. However, apart from wheel drive, an SUV is much closer to a conventional passenger vehicle than an off-road vehicle. Indeed, on the road we don’t use the 4×4 mode which consumes much more fuel. In other words, on the road an SUV is only as good as its looks.

The passenger compartment offers a relatively large volume, ideal for family use.

The Crossover

It is halfway between the 4×4 and the sedan. It also has a 4×4 mode but is less spacious and more urban than the SUV. It also consumes less fuel. The main difference between an SUV and a crossover is therefore aesthetic. Originally, Crossovers were mounted on a sedan platform unlike SUVs with a larger van-type chassis.

Today, manufacturers present their crossovers as sportier vehicles than SUVs, a kind of missing link between them and 4×4s.

In the end, 4×4s are the only true all-terrain vehicles. They are not very interesting for road driving. As for SUVs and crossovers, even though they are technically very similar, they are aimed at two distinct types of clientele, the first being more family oriented and the second more sporty.

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