It wasn't long ago that sport utility vehicles made a splash in the auto industry as the optimal blend of form and function. Their popularity as an alternative to the traditional pickup truck skyrocketed as more motorists saw the utilitarian advantages afforded by a larger wheelbase, expanded trunk space, increased visibility and better safety measures. According to a recent Business Insider report, however, drivers are looking to cut their trucks down to size as they opt for smaller, sleeker and sportier vehicles known as compact, or crossover, SUVs.
"This is not a specialty product anymore. This is a core, mainstream body style," Ford's Global Marketing Chief Jim Farley told the news source.
The Edge, one of Ford's two most popular crossover models, took the industry by storm last year and is leading the pack for the American SUV market in 2013. Other American manufacturers such as GM and Chrysler are offering compact variations of their full-size SUV staples and seeing a great deal of success this holiday season. Business Insider mentioned that according to research firm LMC Automotive, crossover sales have spiked from around 2 million in 2008 to nearly 4 million in 2013.
The consumer appeal of the crossover variety is understandable. Drivers get a smoother ride, a spacious and functional interior, plus the ability to look out over traffic and get a better view of the road ahead. Crossover models are also thought to be more attractive than their boxy counterparts and have much better fuel mileage - an essential factor in today's auto market that did not impact the early days of SUVs. Cheaper maintenance costs allow for drivers to invest in better car insurance and safety features. The compact strikes the perfect balance between the agility of a sedan and the versatility of a truck-based SUV.
Crossover sales reflect popularity
Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle saw that small SUVs gained an additional 2 percent of the market share this year, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. Small and midsize car models lost a combined 2 percent, evidently replaced by the crossover. Japanese automakers are also benefiting from the rise of the compact SUV as Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V combined to account for 15.5 percent of total U.S. auto sales, a figure that has increased 21 percent from last year.
As the holiday season plods along, expect the crossover market to continue exploding and find a permanent home in the automotive industry.