What's the Difference Between a 4x4, SUV and a Crossover?

UK Sales of 4x4’s have increased dramatically over the past 10 years and you may well have noticed this anecdotally if you’ve been driving around Britain's roads recently!

The increased popularity in 4x4’s has coincided with a steep decrease in the sales of Saloon cars as UK drivers opt for more space, luxury and style.

A significant percentage of the increase has been attributed to the huge surge in sales of new ‘Crossovers’ which blur the line between 4x4’s and more traditional car body types.

With this increased popularity has come a number of new makes, models and designs which continue to make distinguishing between a 4x4, SUV or Crossover ever more challenging.

For many car experts, the difference between each type is the car’s platform, chassis which affects how the car handles and performs.

However, to fully understand the differences so you can make a more informed purchasing decision, it’s important to understand each of the car type's initial intended purposes and the key characteristics of each of them.

We’ve broken down each car type in detail:

What is a 4x4?

4x4s originally got their name from the fact all four wheels were driven by the engine (4 wheel drive) but is now frequently used to refer to a class of vehicles in general.

Originally, 4x4’s were designed for farming and anything that required driving in challenging, off-road conditions. It’s no suprise that 4x4s are the car of choice for adventurers and those who love to travel!

However, there are also the favourites of families and those living in less rural environments due to the raised vehicle height, space, style and comfort when driving even at high speeds.

Some of the most popular 4x4 models include the Range RoverBMW X Models & Mercedes - Benz G Class.

The Benefits of a 4x4

  • Off-Road Capability: Four-wheel drive vehicles excel in off-road situations, providing improved traction on rough, slippery, or uneven surfaces.
  • Towing Capacity: Like SUVs, 4x4s typically have a high towing capacity.
  • Performance in Poor Conditions: 4x4 vehicles perform well in adverse weather conditions (such as heavy rain or snow) where extra traction is beneficial.
    Increased Resale Value: Vehicles with 4x4 often retain their value better than their two-wheel drive counterparts.
  • Adventure Ready: If you're into outdoor activities, a 4x4 can take you places other vehicles can't, opening up a range of adventurous possibilities.

What is an SUV?

SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle and refers to a class of cars that came after 4x4’s which are intended to be similar in that they are robust, powerful and have a high ride height but also differ in that they handle better, have lower running costs and improved luxury.

With bodywork and a chassis that can sometimes be more comparable to more traditional car types, SUV’s can be more fun and car-like to drive – as they share regular cars’ construction methods.

With a better fuel economy and added space and comfort, SUV’s became really popular within the mainstream audience as they appealed to the family market.

Some of our favourite SUVs include the Audi Q7Jaguar F-Pace & Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Benefits of an SUV

  • Space: SUVs generally have more seating and cargo capacity than other vehicle types, making them ideal for large families or people who frequently need to carry a lot of luggage, equipment, or supplies.
  • Safety: Larger vehicles like SUVs often fare better in accidents, offering more protection to occupants due to their size and weight.
  • Visibility: The higher seating position in an SUV provides a better view of the road, which some drivers find more comfortable and safer.
  • Off-Road Capability: Many SUVs offer four-wheel drive or other off-road capabilities, which can be useful for people who frequently drive in challenging conditions or terrain.
  • Towing Capacity: SUVs usually have a higher towing capacity than cars, which can be advantageous for drivers who need to pull trailers or other heavy loads.
  • Luxury Features: Many SUVs come equipped with high-end features and options, from advanced infotainment systems to plush interiors.

What is a Crossover?

As we’ve already touched on, the popularity of Crossovers in the UK has exploded in recent years. There are several reasons behind this but perhaps one of the most important is that a Crossover allows drivers who are used to owning more typical car types such as hatchbacks, estates and saloons, a way to dip their toe into owning a larger car.

4x4’s and SUVs are famous for their size, power and fuel consumption but a Crossover allows you to benefit from a few of these advantages without necessarily choosing the most expensive car to run on the market.

Everything about the Crossover is more practical to the everyday driver than a 4x4. What they lack in luxury and prestige, they make up for in fuel economy, running costs and more traditional driving and handling.

Whilst there’s plenty of stunningly stylish Crossovers on offer right now, you probably won’t match the wow factor of the latest 4x4’s. However, for a much lower cost, you can get the feel of luxury and comfort that you simply can’t match with other smaller car types.

Some of the best Crossovers on the market right now include the Nissan Qashqai, Nissan X-Trail & Porsche Cayenne.

Benefits of a Crossover

  • Fuel Efficiency: Crossovers, being smaller and lighter than traditional SUVs, generally have better fuel economy.
  • Handling and Ride Comfort: Due to their car-based platforms, crossovers usually provide a smoother and more car-like driving experience compared to truck-based SUVs.
  • Safety: While they may not be as robust as larger SUVs in an accident, modern crossovers still come with an array of safety features such as advanced braking systems, stability control, and multiple airbags.
  • Affordability: Crossovers are typically less expensive than similar-sized SUVs, both in terms of initial purchase price and maintenance costs.
  • Versatility: Crossovers offer a balance of the space and practicality of an SUV with the comfort, efficiency, and drivability of a car.

Which one is right for me?

Learning about the history of 4x4’s, SUVs and Crossovers is a great way to understand the pros and cons of each. Whilst the popularity of all these models is driving more variety than ever and blurring the lines between each of them, there are still key characteristics that differ from each other. Whether you’re looking for a practical, affordable motor or a luxurious, prestige vehicle to make an impression, Saxton 4x4 is the UK’s Number 1 4x4 Dealership offering an unrivalled selection of cars.

Why not take a look at our current stock or check out more latest news and advice? Looking for your next SUV? Check out our stock of large, medium or small 4x4s, we're sure we'll have something for you!

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