‘Crossover’ Versus ‘SUV’
These days, the terms Crossover and SUV are often used interchangeably, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Originally, the distinction between Crossover and SUVs was that SUVs continued to have a separate frame that the cab or body was mounted to, while Crossovers had more ‘car-like’ unibody construction. Vehicles with a unibody basically combine the frame and body into a single streamlined skeleton, generally making for far lighter and more efficient vehicles that were far more refined to drive than frame-based trucks.
That said, vehicles that are frame-based tended to have more off-road potential. All in all, if one doesn’t intend to head deep into the wilderness, a Crossover will be more than enough. For those very few who do prefer driving without a road, a traditional frame-based SUV tends to be better.
The subcompact Crossover type of vehicle is perfect for getting around a city or any location with tight spaces for driving and parking. These tiny little runabouts are as light on gas as they are on cost and are essentially tall hatchbacks. Despite their small size, they still have room for five and some luggage. A good example of this kind of vehicle is the Buick Encore, released for the 2013 model year. Enough time has passed that some seriously good deals can be had on these models, especially since they remain basically brand new.
Not that much larger than the subcompact crossover is the normal compact size. These essentially do all the same things that the subcompacts are best at but offer more interior room. Good examples of good compact crossover buys on the used market include the GMC Terrain or the more modern Buick Envision. Regardless of your choice, either of these machines will make jaunts around town and short road trips seamless and enjoyable experiences.
The mid-size category is where the Buick and GMC lineups of used SUVs get significantly more diverse, not just in terms of the price point but use case. For example, when first introduced in 1995, the second-generation GMC Jimmy was a mid-size SUV. But the continual growth of SUVs in size means that in the modern-day it is more of a compact SUV, at least for the sporty two-door models. The second-generation GMC Jimmy was available for the model years 1995 to 2001 and has since become a common enthusiast platform thanks to their strong old-school frame-based construction and prices often below 7,000 dollars.
The 2008 to 2017 Buick Enclave is a sleek and well-appointed mid-size crossover, perfect for those who need more space than what is available with compact and subcompact crossovers. Best for those who require more style than the norm, the Enclave breaks quite sharply with the standard boxlike shape of the larger SUVs and Crossovers, instead presenting an exterior defined by elegant curves and touches of chrome. Quite a few crossovers go out of their way in an attempt to look like their rugged SUV forebears, but the Enclave is not about roughing it.
A more traditional SUV in the mid-size category is the second generation GMC Envoy, a truck built with body-on-frame construction that adds toughness to a platform that includes an optional 5.3-Liter V8. Other enticing available features of the 2002 to 2009 Envoy include four-wheel drive with a locking differential and cylinder deactivation. For a truck commonly available for less than 8,000 dollars, efficiency-boosting cylinder deactivation is an extremely rare capability. For dealing with harsh conditions effortlessly while efficiently whisking you down the highway, it is hard to do better for such a low price.
The full-size category is for the largest and most capable Crossovers and SUVs, which offer expansive interior room for both passengers and cargo. These vehicles are some of the most popular, as these days, even higher-end vehicles can be had for roughly half what they cost their original owner. Despite the low cost, many of them are practically brand new and include modern features and capabilities.
The GMC Acadia is an ideal family crossover, combining SUV-like space with car-like ease of use. Add to this the standard Crossover hallmarks of a high seating position and plenty of space, and you have a great full-size option for families. The GMC Yukon is a serious full-size SUV with serious capabilities. The Yukon is a body-on-frame vehicle with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is commonly available, making these truly hardy trucks capable of taking on any weather condition and even some adventures beyond the road. The Yukon does all of this while maintaining a comfortable interior.