Crossovers provide many of the perks of full-size SUVs, with fewer compromises. True, many cannot haul a boat or a trailer, and rugged off-road-capable looks are simply a styling trait. But when gas prices began to climb, a lot of people appeared to realize they didn't exactly need such features. However, many were reluctant to downgrade from comfy interiors, more accessible seating and cargo areas, readily available all-wheel-drive, and lofty views from the cabin…so crossovers slotted neatly into that middle ground. In addition to providing car-like comfort with some SUV functionality, the unibody frame also enables manufacturers to design cabins with more interior space. Though they're smaller outside, crossovers' interiors are capable of hauling more passengers and cargo than their truck-frame-based counterparts.
Giving up some features also makes a lighter vehicle, and a lighter design contributes to better fuel economy than minivans and full-size SUVs. And since crossover competition is so fierce, automakers are working to earn bragging points wherever possible. Fuel economy is improving across the segment, but still isn't much to boast about…at least, compared to smaller family sedans. To the owners of traditional SUVs, though, lower gas costs bring some relief.
And while some crossovers' fuel economy ratings are mediocre, others are truly an achievement. The base model Toyota RAV-4, a four-cylinder engine with front-wheel-drive, achieves EPA ratings of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg highway. Opting for the four-wheel-drive system sacrifices just 1 mpg.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid's drivetrain mates a gasoline-powered V6 with an electric engine, which is pretty standard procedure for hybrids. The Highlander Hybrid stands out, though, because the combined output of the two motors is 280 horsepower that achieves a combined (city and highway) EPA rating of 28 miles per gallon (11.9 kilometers per liter). This power and efficiency comes at a cost, though. The Highlander Hybrid's base price is nearly twice that of entry-level crossovers. Other manufacturers are throwing hybrid engine options into the mix, though.
Keep reading to discover other reasons crossovers are worth consideration.