One of the newest segments in the automotive marketplace – crossover vehicles – is proving to be one of the hottest, according to a report by the Vancouver Province.
As sales of the traditional SUV fade amid changing consumer tastes and concerns over rising fuel prices, crossovers – also called CUVs – are usurping the SUV’s place in the market.
Depending on the crossover and the manufacturer, sales are up substantially this year over 2007. Toyota says sales of its Highlander Hybrid soared 226% while sales of the non-hybrid Highlander jumped 140%.
Crossovers give buyers much of what they liked about SUVs – a high seating position for a good view of the road and all-wheel drive traction in adverse weather conditions – but also offer better fuel economy and car-like ride and handling. The difference in ride and handling isn’t surprising since crossovers are built on unibody-car platforms rather than the body and frame truck construction of many SUVs.
“CUVs became part of our lineup as the needs and wants of our customers shifted,” said Hugh Wickham, Nissan Canada’s corporate manager for product planning. “Many loved the utility, safety and AWD capabilities that SUVs like the Xterra offer, but didn’t need the off-road capabilities.
“Built on a car base, many CUV drivers enjoy the comfort and car-like feel vehicles such as the Murano offer, and fuel efficiency is certainly a bi-product CUV drivers enjoy,” Wickham said.
Ford Motor Company provides a good example of the strength of the crossover segment. While Ford’s problems in recent years have been well documented, they don’t extend to the crossover segment where Ford has several entries and strong sales.
Christine Hollander, communications manager for Ford of Canada, said the company’s crossover sales to the end of August this year were up 20% from 2007.
With vehicles such as the just-released Flex, Edge, Taurus X and Lincoln MKX, Ford is “a leader in terms of crossover sales.”
In addition, CUVs can tow a trailer, if that’s something a customer needs. In the Ford lineup, the Edge and MKX can tow around 3,500 pounds, similar to a minivan’s towing capacity. That would allow those vehicles to tow a tent trailer or a lightweight travel trailer.
The Taurus X has a towing capacity of around 2,000 pounds while the Flex can tow 4,400 pounds. SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Expedition can tow larger, heavier trailers.