• Oct 13, 2006


GM is apparently just as confused as the rest of us when it comes to naming that crossover/CUV/sport wagon/tall-wagon-thingy sitting in the driveway. In general, a crossover is a unibody vehicle that looks like an SUV, but handles and gets fuel mileage more like a car. SUVs are body-on-frame vehicles, generally built on a truck platform. The differences are sometimes minute, but that is only part of the problem. The bigger problem here is what to call this segment as a whole.

In the early days of SUVs, some people called all of them Jeeps. They were trucks for passenger vehicle duty, exemplified by the Jeep Cherokee. As more manufacturers started offering them, a slew of nicknames popped up to represent the segment, but SUV ended up being the one that stuck. Despite the fact that "sport" more often refers to what you can do with the stuff you are hauling, rather than how the thing drives.

So now we are faced with a similar dilemma in the emerging crossover category. GM ad execs are trying to figure out the best way to pitch their new entries in the field. GM has three new crossovers (the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave) coming out at the end of the year that they are not sure how to label. "We changed the SRX advertising for Cadillac earlier this summer to call it a crossover," Mike Jackson, GM North America's vice president of marketing and advertising, said in an interview with Automotive News.

Read on for more after the jump...

[Source: Autoweek]

But they aren't sure if that label will work for the others as they may be positioned differently by each brand. Gary Topolewski, a Detroit marketing and creative consultant, said: "'Crossover' is an internal term that everyone in Detroit understands. But around the nation, people ask, 'Is it an SUV or a truck or station wagon?'"

Chrysler faced a similar problem when it launched its Pacifica a few years ago. Topolewski, who used to be chief creative officer at Chrysler's advertising agency, BBDO, worked on Pacifica marketing. He remembers that they wanted to get away from the term "SUV" because they felt the term was "tired and old." His argument was that the vehicle was so different, Chrysler should bill it as "having redefined the SUV." That it did, paving the way for such diverse vehicles as the uber-wagon M-B R-Class and the zoom-zoomy Mazda5 nanovan. We're not sure which label will become THE one label for the segment, but we wouldn't mind hearing your suggestions in the comments.


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  • 20 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Minivan without the sliding doors"
      "The new hip soccermon vehicle"
      "Rounded corner-raked windshield suv looking vehicle"
      "You thought the gas mileage was better but you get 16MPG"

      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the reason why they are confused is because today so many "SUVs" are really not SUVs and fall into the category of crossover, at least in my mind.

      A SUV has higher ground clearance, higher seating position, and higher payload/towing capacity then a car.

      A Wagon has the same ground clearance, same seating position, and same payload/towing capacity as a car.

      A Crossover is not an SUV when it shares one of those three attributes with a car, and a crossover is not a wagon when it shares one of those three attributes with an SUV.

      An Audi All Road is not an SUV because it shares the same seating position as a car, but isn't a wagon because of the higher ground clearance.

      A Ford Freestyle is not an SUV because it doesn't have higher payload/towing capacity. A Ford Freestyle is not a Wagon because it has a higher seating position.

      I don't know, haven't thought about it much. I'm just shooting from the hip what I think a crossover is.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I vote for CROSSOVER SPORT VAN. What? Its already taken? Noooooooo!!!!! =D
      • 8 Years Ago
      What was wrong with the word, "Station Wagon"? NOTHING! All the major manufacturers need to get over their BABY BOOMER BIAS against station wagons. Ok, I don't care if it's tall, the Highlander is a Camry Wagon. The rest of this is just marketing crap and CAFE designations.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Its a damn wagon!!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Call it a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). That designation is bound to get ALL those customers who buy this sort of vehicle in the (often mistaken) belief they are getting a SAFE/SAV means of transporting their 2.1 children, dog or cat and soccer ball.
      • 8 Years Ago
      CRAP - Crossover Recreational Automobile Projectile
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM's advertising should just go this way:

      "Call it a crossover, call it an SUV, call it whatever you want.

      We at Saturn call it the most useful vehicle we've ever built. We call it the Outlook"

      ...or something like that.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Here's the deal: let's go back 30 years, and call things what they really were(originally) called:

      1) Truck: either with a full overed back, to haul people, or open back, to haul lumber: a truck was a truck, and not a "Sport-Truck" .

      2) Crossovers: Let's call em what they are, STATION WAGONS(that pretned to be trucks).

      3) Any coupe/3 door hatch, thant handles fast, good mpg, etc... Sporty car(unless rwd, then sports car).

      4) Car: anything looks liek a fusion, sonata, and so forth.

      If it has 5 doors, and waogn looks, call it a station wagon.
      Ben K.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the new crossovers from






      I think the new crossovers from GM look good, but I agree they need a new category. Recreational Utility Vehicle would be appropriate, RUV. It's not a truck, van or wagon. It is a multi-purpose vehicle, MPV. Sport Utility Crossover, SUC. The possibilities are there, good luck.






      • 8 Years Ago
      These appear to blur the lines more than the Freestyle and Pacifica because they have a more SUV-like stance, with a lot of height and a good amount of air between the tops of the tires and the wheel openings. It's that air that generally separates an SUV from a crossover these days. They're not just wagons because they're much taller and larger.

      Many SUVs are unibodies, including most from Jeep and Land Rover. That they are all BoF is a common misconception.

      Ground clearance doesn't do it, because some crossovers like the Subarus have more of it than some SUVs.

      The major demarcation is probably whether a two-speed transfer case is AVAILABLE. But then someone will fit a crossover with one of those just for grins. Also, this would make the new Dodge Nitro a crossover, when it looks and behaves like an SUV, just without the off-road ability of one.

      They'll probably all just be SUVs in the end, because there are no clear lines.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice parts bin Envoy rims.
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