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Crossover vs SUV

A photo collage of a SUV over a crossver in one picture.

Trying to choose your next car is a big decision. As you are reading the descriptions of new models, you will start to see SUVs and crossovers come up. Sometimes they are in the same description but not the same type of vehicle. Over the years, they have started looking similar, but there are a few significant differences that you need to keep in mind. This is very important when you get to the bottom of the description and locate the price tag of each vehicle. 

Before you make that decision, make sure you know what these two types of vehicles are and what features they have so that you can make the best decision for yourself when deciding between the crossover and the SUV.

What is an SUV?

Probably the most popular type of vehicle among families is the sports utility vehicle (SUV). This vehicle was meant to be a working vehicle like a truck and has some distinctive features to the sports utility vehicle. 


The frame of an SUV is just like a truck. While it does not have a bed, it has a support system that can do some of the same things a truck can and is meant to do. Because of the truck frame, other features make the SUV it’s class of vehicle. Its ability to tow and have multiple drive shafts opens up the possibilities. 

Four-Wheel or All-Wheel Drive

Because the SUV has a truck frame, it can come in either four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Most manufacturers take advantage of this option, offering various models with these different drive features. A four-wheel drive is an option, and while it may spend a lot of time in a two-wheel drive, it has the ability to change into a four-wheel drive when needed. The all-wheel drive option keeps the SUV in a permanent four-wheel drive state, with all tires turning all the time. Many SUVs used for off-road work or towing are popular in all-wheel drive. 

Towing Ability

While you mainly see trucks hauling trailers and campers, some SUVs have that same capacity. Thanks to the truck frame, their strength and suspension options are maximized, and manufacturers strive to give that same power to the SUV. Depending on the size of the SUV, the suspension, and the engine, the towing capacity can vary. 


One of the most significant features of an SUV is the amount of storage that is available. Having the entire cargo area covered through the top means you can carry more items in the back. They can also be of different sizes, offering more room than cars or even some pickup trucks. Most SUVs allow the seats in the back to fold down, and you can then carry big purchases like TVs, lumber, or big material rolls from the store to home, eliminating a delivery fee. 

Lots of Seats

In many SUV models, there is the option of third-row seating, making two or three extra seats available when needed. These seats are often folded down until they need to be used, and then they pop up and expand the number of passengers you can carry on a road trip or in a carpool. 

What is a Crossover?

Side view photo of a red ford escape car in the city street parked.

When looking at a crossover vehicle, there are a few features to remember so that you know what you can expect and how it compares to other vehicles.


All crossover vehicles are based on a car frame, which is why they are more comparable to those types of vehicles. Because of this frame, there is no option for towing capacity or going between a two-wheel drive. Fortunately, these needs are not as every day for those who live in more urban places or do not plan to take the vehicle off-road regularly. 


Although the crossover is designed on a car frame, it does offer more storage than sedans that only have trunk space. Crossovers come with hatches on the back, so they can be opened and offer more room for items. More oversized items can be stored in a crossover, and the back seats can even sit down for more space. 

Higher Lift

While it may be on a car frame, the crossover is often lifted higher than a sedan. This is a great option to consider for those who want that higher feel without going the entire SUV route. Those who are taller find this to be comfortable and easier to get in and out of the vehicle. 

Decent Gas Mileage

Because the crossover is on a car frame and cannot tow, it does not need a giant motor to operate. This means it can run off the same four-cylinder and small V6 engines found in sedans. A smaller engine means that it has a lower gas mileage. 

Which Vehicle Was First?

White Kia Sorento PHEV SUV photoshoot at the port flexing it's new features.

The crossover was the first to come into design back with the 1980 AMC Eagle. It was designed on a car platform but raised enough with a hatch to make it different from the cars. This was not the first time a vehicle crossover existed, however. The El Camino in the 1960s and 1970s was part car and truck but took a different route than what we know as an SUV. 

Design Differences

There are a few differences to keep in mind when you are comparing the SUV to the crossover. 


When looking for differences between the SUV and the Crossover, the biggest difference is the frame of the two vehicles. While the SUV has a based frame on the pickup truck, the crossover frame is rooted in a car, limiting its abilities for working and hauling. With an SUV having a larger truck frame, there is an option for towing and hauling that can be attractive to some buyers, depending on their vehicle needs. 


The SUV usually weighs a lot more because of the frame and the build that comes from that frame. Their heavier weight means that they need a larger motor. They also have a larger towing ability, so they can haul larger trailers, campers, and other things depending on the weight and capacity of that particular SUV.

More Seating

Zoom in photo of a Toyota RAV4 rear seating.

While the two may look similar, the SUV offers more seating than the crossover. This is because the car frame is only meant for two rows based on its design. The truck frame that is used by the SUV, however, has the ability to add a third row. 

Larger Motors

Because of the heavier weight of the SUV, they often have larger motors than crossover models. An SUV usually has a V6 or some V8 engine, depending on its size. Most crossover models have four-cylinder models and a few with a smaller V6. 

Gas Mileage

These larger motors mean that more fuel is required, and larger gas tanks are installed. The crossover will get better gas mileage than an SUV because it is not as heavy or equipped with such a large motor. 

Design Similarities

When you look at both the crossover and the SUV, you may notice that there are a few similarities right away. 

Hatch and Rear Seats

Both the SUV and the crossover have a hatch door in the back for storage. They lift up so that you can bend into the vehicle and place your items. They are both designed this way to offer passengers an easier way to store their items and access them. If the storage available is not enough, both the crossover and the SUV have rear seats that will lie down so that you can add to your storage, making room for the bigger hauls and purchases. 

Higher Lift

No matter if it is an SUV or a crossover, you can expect the vehicle to be lifted higher than a sedan. In most cases, they are similar in height at the stock level so that you can sit right down and come right out. 

Hybrid or Electric Options

A brand new Hyundai Tucson Hybrid in black colorway spotted parking outdoors.

In more recent models produced by manufacturers everywhere, both the SUV and the Crossover are being made in hybrid or electric models. There is still a difference in the power, especially for the hybrid options, but they are both moving toward innovation. 

Durability of Each

Both the SUV and the Crossover are durable vehicles in their own right. If you need a larger vehicle than a sedan but have no interest in taking that vehicle off-road or doing any significant work with it, then the crossover will be durable for all of your needs. 

Those who use their SUVs in several terrain areas or need to have an option to haul trailers, campers, and other things regularly will find an SUV model to be more durable than the crossover. That vehicle will provide all of your needs and not cause significant mechanical damage. 

Benefits of a Crossover

There are several benefits to choosing a crossover over an SUV. 

  • Same storage capability
  • Lower gas mileage

If you are planning to live in town or an area where you are only running errands, then you may find the crossover beneficial. They will beat an SUV in gas mileage every time, as they have smaller motors. More crossover models than SUV models have moved to sustainability, so if maintaining an environmentally-friendly vehicle is important to you, you should consider a crossover.   

You can still get these benefits and have just as much storage as the average SUV. With the hatch and the rounded-out design of crossovers, there is room for shopping trips and safely hauling different types of cargo within your crossover. 

Benefits of an SUV

A black jeep grand cherokee in the basement parking lot side view.

While the crossover has some huge benefits, the SUV has the ability to do what the crossover cannot. Whether you have a large family or you are planning to make large purchases that need to be hauled, your SUV can meet all of your demands. SUVs also come with the capability of hauling trailers and campers, depending on their size. Not all SUVs are made the same, so you can get one that is smaller or larger, depending on your family and vehicle needs. 

Comparing Costs

The cost is the last comparison between the crossover and the SUV. The truth is that they are not similar in costs, simply because of what they bring to the table. The crossover will always be the more affordable option. This is because it is limited in what it features while looking like an SUV.

Because there is a larger frame, engine, and different options with an SUV, you can expect that price tag to be more significant. This price can also vary based on the size of the SUV and how much it is going to be. The more flexibility the SUV has for towing, space, and seats, the more expensive it will be.