It all seems to be about initials. SUV is a Sports Utility Vehicle while a CUV is a Crossover Utility Vehicle. Sometimes crossovers are sold as SUVs but don’t be fooled; the off-road handling of crossovers is not as good; most do not have four wheeled drive. If you require a car that can handle itself but isn’t over-substantial, a CUV is good route to go down.

The idea of both SUVs and Crossovers is to have a better level of comfort and interior than a simple passenger car, they are also better at handling fuel. One of the problems with the CUV is that they might be tricky if you have a large family, in which case you might wish to look at the normal SUV or something like a sedan. It’s always a good idea for a family to see how well they might fit in a car before you buy it.

Where did Crossover car start?

The origins could well be in the 1970s and 1980s with cars such as the Matro Racho and AMC Eagle. These were not traditional off-road vehicles but they had something in common with them. The Matra is interesting for the materials it was made from; polyester and fibreglass, not the first things you think of when building a car, something like steel would surely be more useful? As with later cars they were sold as off-roaders, despite lacking the 4×4 capability. 

The AMC Eagle is an even weirder vehicle. If you had an off-road vehicle, a genuine one in this case with four-wheel drive, why would you design it as a passenger car? The brown color the vehicle came in might not have helped sales, though we are looking at through our twenty first century eyes. It was in production between 1980 and 1988 with body types such as the 2 door coupé (a coupé is a passenger car with a sloping roofline at the back), a 2 door convertible, a 4 door saloon and several others. The basic setup is a Concord body with a four-wheel drive. In 1988, Chrysler took over AMC but only for one year, it just wasn’t worth their while continuing.


Because CUV’s are not as useful as traditional SUVs you might have thought they wouldn’t sell as well, but they are user friendly, simply lacking the offroad component. So, in these days of city life plenty of people are happy to have the look of an off-road vehicle without the expense of really having the functionality – which explains why 50% of all “SUV type cars” sold in 2005 were CUV and the number has been increasing over the past 15 years.

Outside the US what makes a CUV seems even less defined. Is the Audi Q7 a CUV? Some people might think it’s too substantial. What about the VW Touareg? Its handling is more like a sports car. Or maybe, just maybe, the designs of a car cannot always fit in one category.

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