Oct. 21, 2022

Crossover vs. Compact SUV

As the automotive industry advances, the average consumer needs to keep up with the changes. It seems like most people can't differentiate between a crossover vs. compact SUV. That's because most car salespeople use the term "SUV" to refer to vehicles with all-wheel-drive capabilities.

As the automotive industry advances, the average consumer needs to keep up with the changes. It seems like most people can't differentiate between a crossover vs. compact SUV. That's because most car salespeople use the term "SUV" to refer to vehicles with all-wheel-drive capabilities.

So what's the difference between a Crossover vs. Compact SUV?


A compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) is a class of small SUVs that’s smaller than medium-sized SUVs and larger than mini-SUVs. There’s no industry-approved definition of the dimensions or size of this type of vehicle. Unlike crossovers that rely on a unibody platform, compact-sized SUVs use a body-on-frame load-bearing framework commonly found on trucks.
A crossover (also known as crossover SUV) is an SUV-like vehicle designed with a unibody-frame construction. Their platform resembles that of a passenger car rather than that of a pickup truck. Unlike truck-based SUVs, crossovers boast lower manufacturing costs and superior energy efficiency. They also offer more comfortable riding experiences and have better interior comfort.

Main Differences Between Crossover vs. Compact SUV


Crossovers are popular for their close resemblance to SUVs and diverse styling options. Manufacturers usually market them based on specific styles that car shoppers want. They advertise crossovers as a socially-acceptable downscale from a luxury or full-size SUV. It's thus easier to separate crossovers from SUVs using aesthetics instead of technical features.
Compact SUVs, on the other hand, offer ruggedness that's reminiscent of true-blue off-roaders. They boast a high ground clearance when moving over rugged or broken terrains. Compact-sized SUVs also feature distinctive styling that suggests off-road adventures. Their ability to cruise on dirt trails is perhaps among their main unique selling points besides their styling.


Crossovers boast an attractive base price, with most base models costing between $20,000 and $21,000. With flexible prices, you can pick and choose the model of your choice without compromising on quality. Unlike compact-sized SUVs, crossovers are relatively cheaper to manufacture since their unibodies require less manufacturing costs. Compact SUVs, on the other hand, feature a body-on-frame design that's expensive to put together.
With an easy buying process, crossovers appeal more to the average consumers. Their sellers also keep consumer interactions positive while keeping their base prices low. It’s even easier to customize a crossover to your preferences or purchase a model with the exact features you want. In this case, a crossover SUV gives the best overall vehicle experience at a cost-effective price.
Compact-sized SUVs come with a price tag of between $23,000 to $30,000. Despite their high prices, they are a great value of money thanks to their sturdiness and off-road appeal. It's also relatively affordable to replace damaged parts of the vehicle. The vehicle also makes less noise when on transit, thanks to its sturdy but expensive body-on-frame design.


Crossovers continue to gain popularity in the SUV market for their third-row seating design. Unlike traditional SUVs that had tighter third-row seats, crossovers offer increased interior flexibility. Some models come with an aisle fixed in the second row. Others have second-row seats designed to slide to provide easier access to the third-row ones.
Third-row seats on crossovers are highly suitable and favored by families. They make traveling with family members or a group of friends easier and convenient. Crossovers can handle the extra weight of passengers occupying the third-row seats thanks to their sturdy unibody frame.
Compact-sized SUVs, on the other hand, offer higher practicality when it comes to the seating arrangement. You can easily fold seats to increase your vehicle's luggage carrying capacity. Since compact SUVs are taller, their cabin offers adequate space for loading a large luggage piece. You can even attach a luggage rack to the vehicle's roof or mount bicycles on the hatch door without losing sight of the road.


Crossovers are more fuel-efficient than compact SUVs because of their inability to haul large cargo. They also offer car-like comfort fused with SUV functionality. Their unibody frames also make it easier for manufacturers to add spacious cabins.
Despite consuming more fuel, compact-sized SUVs offer a better view of the road since you’ll be sitting at a higher height. The height advantage also gives you a great view of your environment. It’s also easier to pass through traffic with the vehicle.

Target Market

Crossovers come with family-friendly features suited for media-savvy children and busy parents/guardians. Manufacturers mainly target groups of individuals looking for great cruises. The family-friendly features include tech toys for kids, high-end electronics, and fold-down seats.
Compact SUVs are favorable for both old and young people who enjoy cruising off-road. Millennials are primarily the target market of these vehicles. That's because young people enjoy traveling over rugged terrains or to remote areas seeking adventure. They also prefer vehicles that can help them cope with heavy urban traffic and foster road visibility.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the difference between crossovers and compact SUVs will help you make an informed decision when buying an SUV. The automobile market keeps changing with different variations introduced to suit specific demands. It's important to understand the market segment you fit in before buying any of these vehicles.

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