5 Vehicles That Were Crossover Before There Were Crossovers

Subaru BRAT

Considering the crowded pantheon devoted to unfortunately named vehicles, you could do worse, believe it or not, than to name a car after a spoiled and whiny child. Actually, Subaru's BRAT -- or Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter -- by most accounts did a pretty good job of providing on- and off-road capability during its production run from 1978 to 1987.

In the tradition of the Ranchero and El Camino, the BRAT used a blended car-pickup truck body design. One of its neatest features was an "on-the-fly" all-wheel-drive feature that let drivers switch to a better-traction mode at the press of a button when the going got tough. This ability to switch back-and-forth to adapt to road (and off-road) conditions made the BRAT a "crossover" in the truest sense of the word.

Earlier versions of the BRAT had plastic seats installed in the pickup bed, facing rearward. We're not sure who would actually sit in them voluntarily, but their inclusion allowed Subaru to sidestep sizeable import tariffs on trucks brought into the United States (the extra seats allowed the BRAT to be classified as a passenger car and elude the added tax).

The little BRAT boasted neither huge horsepower (a full 93 ponies in the model with the 1.8-liter turbo engine) nor overall units sold (a little over 92,000 total). But it could claim an owner who was about as big a celebrity as they come. None other than former U.S. President Ronald Reagan owned a red 1978 model, for getting around his sprawling California ranch [source: Burry].

The BRAT wouldn't be the last undeclared crossover to prove that when it comes to vehicular versatility, size doesn't matter.

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