You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

Truck Trend logo Truck Trend 3/15/2016 Edward A. Sanchez

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

If you’re a true-blue truck or SUV fan, the word “crossover” may as well be a four-letter word to you. These car-based quasi-SUVs have spread like Kudzu through the South and are rapidly displacing midsize sedans as the best-selling models in the U.S., aside from fullsize trucks, for some brands. As much as you love to hate them, many of you admit that your spouse drives one, or you even own one yourself for daily commuter duty, saving the truck or 4x4 for big jobs or weekend romps. Although crossovers have only become the scourge of the industry (to some) within the last few years, the concept of an off-road–worthy car is not exactly new, with its origins going back nearly four decades. Here are seven crossover models that were game changers for the segment.

Follow MSN Autos on Facebook

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

AMC Eagle
Introduced for the 1980 model year, the AMC Eagle started with the unibody platform of the AMC Concord, itself based on the rather unloved Gremlin. Powered primarily by AMC’s tried-and-true 258 ci I-6, the engine provided modest motivation with its 112 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the ubiquitous wagon, sedan and three-door hatch versions of the Eagle were also built throughout its eight-year lifespan. For the unicorn hunters, an extremely rare VM Motori 3.6L turbodiesel was offered. Surprisingly, the Eagle also has somewhat of a motorsports pedigree, competing in the ProRally series in the early ’80s. Although somewhat crude and underpowered by today’s standards, the Eagle was a revolutionary vehicle at the time for its parent company AMC. The Eagle’s innovation couldn’t save its parent company’s fortunes, however. The remains of AMC were purchased by Chrysler in 1987, primarily for the Jeep brand.

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

Ford Escape
The Escape is now so ubiquitous, that it’s hardly thought of as revolutionary or groundbreaking. However, an examination of the times showed it was a “bold move” for Ford well before the days of Alan Mulally. Created partially in response to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which had launched several years prior, the Escape launched in the midst of the larger Explorer’s heyday, with its big brother selling more than 400,000 units annually. In its first full model year, the Escape sold 164,184 units, steadily increasing each year to its current annual sales of more than 300,000. By 2007, the Escape was handily out-selling the Explorer and has never looked back since. The Escape was codeveloped with Japanese partner Mazda, which sold its version as the Tribute. The Mercury Mariner was a slightly dressier version of the Escape. Today, the Escape is sold as the Ford Kuga in Europe, and the upscale Lincoln MKC gives Dearborn’s luxury brand a credible competitor to the Audi Q3 and Lexus NX.

Research the Ford Escape on MSN Autos

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

Honda CR-V
Everyone may be jumping on the crossover bandwagon now, but Honda was one of the trailblazers in the segment in the mid ’90s. Based on the mechanicals of the Civic compact, the CR-V placed a taller, larger body on the platform, with a larger-displacement 2.0L engine. Like the Escape, sales started out from a modest, but respectable, level, turning into an absolute market juggernaut with more than 300,000 unit sales a year since 2013. As is the Japanese tradition, the CR-V has received continuous refinement and development over the generations, with the current model being the largest, most refined, most comfortable, and most fuel-efficient CR-V ever. The CR-V was Honda’s second-best-selling model after the Accord in the U.S. market in 2015.

Research the Honda CR-V on MSN Autos

2014 Jeep Cherokee TrailHawk© Provided by TruckTrend 2014 Jeep Cherokee TrailHawk

2014 Jeep Cherokee (KL)
No disrespect to the original compact Cherokee from the ’80s, but it’s the current-generation KL Cherokee that has busted stereotypes and defied the critics since day one. The KL Cherokee’s controversial styling had an immediately polarizing effect, with some saying Jeep had gone too far in trying to be different, while others praised the brand’s bold, unconventional direction with the new look. Regardless, the KL has proven to be a unanimous hit with customers, being Jeep’s consistently best-selling model for the last year.

The KL Cherokee also has the distinction of being the only crossover currently offered that has an actual stepped, geared low-range. The unique system was codeveloped with drivetrain supplier Magna. After having driven and ridden in a Cherokee Trailhawk, we can attest the new Cherokee fully lives up to the Jeep name with its off-road capability. The KL earns its spot on this list by simultaneously being effective as a quotidian daily driver as well as a rock-ready 4x4.

Research the Jeep Cherokee on MSN Autos

2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Autobiography Dynamic© Provided by TruckTrend 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Autobiography Dynamic

Range Rover Evoque
Aside from its edgy, haute couture styling and frightening price tag, there’s arguably not much that’s revolutionary about the Range Rover Evoque. However, getting buyers to willingly pay upward of $60,000 for a compact crossover is an impressive feat in and of itself. If your only consideration for a crossover is practicality, there are many better choices that offer much more generous cargo volume and comparable levels of equipment for far less money.

However, in the luxury brand sphere, making a statement is far more important than such plebian concerns as cargo capacity. There’s no denying the Evoque cuts a dashing profile on the road, whether in five-door or the more elusive three-door model. Although Nissan didn’t have the best luck with the Murano CrossCabriolet, a drop-top Evoque will soon be on the roads to cruise the Hamptons, Beverly Hills, and Kensington.

Research the Range Rover Evoque on MSN Autos

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback is the model that made the brand synonymous with all-wheel drive in the U.S. market. With actor Paul Hogan as its early pitchman, the Outback combined car-like driving manners with SUV-like ground clearance and all-weather capability. The smaller Impreza-based Outback Sport expanded the theme and was joined shortly thereafter by the Forester crossover, itself a highly significant model for Japan’s proudly non-conformist brand.

The current-generation Outback is far chunkier and SUV-like than its lithe and almost petite forebear. At its heart, however, the Outback is still a wagon and has spawned multiple conceptual copycats, including the Volvo XC70, Audi Allroad, and others. It goes to show that despite claims to the contrary, Americans will in fact buy wagons, as long as they’re dressed up in the right rugged duds.

Research the Subaru Outback on MSN Autos

Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game© Provided by TruckTrend Seven Crossovers that Changed the Game

Toyota RAV4
The RAV4 was also part of the early wave of crossovers pioneered by the Honda CR-V. Unlike the CR-V and most other crossovers that have debuted since, the RAV4 was also offered in sporty two-door form. Although Toyota had long been a powerhouse brand in traditional 4x4 SUVs and trucks, the RAV4 marked the brand’s transition into more car-like utility models. To offer a move-up product palatable to RAV4 buyers, the Highlander midsize crossover debuted in 2001.

Sales were relatively modest until 2006, when the third-generation model debuted. Sales on the larger model more than doubled from the year previous. The RAV4 was Toyota’s third best-selling model behind the Camry and Corolla in 2015, and many are predicting it could go on to top the charts within the next few years. 

Research the Toyota RAV4 on MSN Autos

Follow MSN Autos on Facebook

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Truck Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon