Just when we thought we’d seen it all, the car industry started putting out a kind of vehicle that nobody could quite categorize. It kind of looks like a sedan, but has some of the utility of a compact crossover or hatchback. It has a sleek profile and a sporty look, but it’s certainly no sports car. What is it? It’s the quasi-SUV. Not everyone is sure what to make of the quasi-SUV. Some people think it brings the best parts of several other body types while leaving the bad parts off, all in the exciting package of a new vehicle. Others are traditionalists and prefer the clear-cut car categories that were clearly defined before. Change is hard and not everyone is accepting of the quasi-SUVs. However, many people already drive one and don’t realize it. The Subaru Crosstrek, for example, is a popular one. Subaru sold nearly 128,000 of these in 2021 and searches for Subaru Crosstrek dealers remain high in 2022.
The Crosstrek is a good introduction to the quasi-SUV for those who are completely new to it. A familiar and reliable car, it’s clearly some combination of hatchback, SUV, and compact crossover. In fact, it really leans into the nature of its vehicle type with even its name containing the word cross—it knows it’s at the intersection of many vehicle types. Today, we’ll take a look at the quasi-SUV so drivers can know what to expect from these cars and what makes them special.
A Better Sedan vs Worse SUV
One group that might find a quasi-SUV appealing is the corporate professional that ventures out of the city on the weekends. Drivers who need an attractive and sleek vehicle for meetings and conventions and who also like to get a little dirty on the weekends can find themselves stuck when it comes to finding the perfect car. A quasi-SUV solves this issue. From the front, these truly look like sedans. You’d need to see the profile shot of one of these cars to notice what makes them different. As you move up and towards the back of the cars, you’ll notice they have a slightly lifted driving position compared to a sedan.
The real kicker is the extended back seat and storage space. If you’re comparing these cars to sedans, you’re typically going to find more room in the backseat and more cargo area. They let CEOs and CFOs maintain that professional first impression when pulling up to the valet, but pop the trunk, and there’s room for a foldable bicycle or rock climbing gear.
Now, those comparing this to an SUV might be disappointed, and one can see why. Searches for SUVs tend to bring up some of these quasis, and people looking for an SUV probably had something else in mind. Compared to mid-size or full-size SUVs, these have smaller backseat areas, less storage, and far lower towing capacities. Some can’t tow at all. If you’re looking for an SUV near you and get a result for a quasi, you could feel tricked.
Those with an open mind might realize that the beauty of a quasi-SUV lies in its aerodynamics, but this is again one of the very traits that have people arguing. Many accuse these quasis of looking weird, awkward, and downright ridiculous. They can’t decide if they’re SUVs that failed to grow completely or sedans that got stretched out. However, their specific design, with a long and low roof featuring a subtle curve, makes them aerodynamic, and that lends to their incredible mileage. Some trims on the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek get up to 28 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. The joy of saving money at the pump might quickly overshadow the skepticism about these cars’ bizarre shapes.
The trunks are also worth noting in these vehicles. They do steal those from a traditional hatchback, with their long trunks that flip upward and open wide. Again, drivers aren’t sure how they feel about it. If you’re comparing this trunk to a sedan’s, it’s a dream come true. Sedan’s traditionally have trunks that only open partway and don’t have much space. You can’t expect to get anything beyond some groceries or carry-on bags in those. But these hatchbacks have larger and taller storage areas than sedans and are great for someone who wants to pack a foldable bicycle along with their work documents. On the other hand, if you’re comparing these trunks to those of SUVs, you might be disappointed. They won’t hold as much stuff as an SUV trunk. What they do offer in exchange, however, is a lower loading dock, making it slightly easier to get heavy items in.
Examples of Quasi-SUVs
You might be trying to picture this strange, new vehicle at this point, but the reality is that many brands have already dipped their toes in this arena. Once you see the names, you’ll realize that you’ve been noticing these vehicles for years. Some examples include:
· The BMW X5 (post 2008)
· The Accord Crosstour
· The Acura ZDX (specifically 2009)
· Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
If you look back in time, you’ll notice that the BMW X5 used to be slightly larger, resembling more of a mid-size SUV before 2008. Meanwhile, the Acura ZDX used to be smaller and became longer in 2009. So some of these quasi-SUVs are just mutations of previous models, which brings us to our next point.
There’s A Big Variance in Quasi-SUVs
Now that you’ve seen some examples of quasi-SUVs, you’ve probably noticed something: some resemble sedans closely while others lean more toward SUVs. You’ll notice that even more when you dive into some of their features and capabilities.
The Subaru Crosstrek, for example, is clearly closer to an SUV than a sedan. You can see this right away by the simple fact that it has a Sport trim. It has incline start assist, adaptive control, a more powerful engine than the lower trims, and adventure-centric accessories like roof racks and crossbar sets. You just don’t see features like this in many sedans.
When you move over to the 2009 Acura ZDX, you have a car that’s clearly more like a sedan. Over the years, there were taller, more SUV-like renditions as well as smaller ones. The 2009 variety clearly falls in this quasi-SUV area. It has a much lower driving position than, say, the BMW X5 and isn’t nearly as sporty as the Crosstrek.
Love Them or Hate Them, Quasi-SUVs Are Here To Stay
Embracing something new can be challenging. People tend to want to shove new things, including cars, into pre-existing boxes. That’s just how the human brain is most comfortable. While comparison can be useful for providing some context and getting familiar with something new, it can also stand in the way of seeing the beauty of it.
These quasi-SUVs certainly have people confused and sometimes frustrated. It’s not often that we see several cars that look almost nothing alike under the same category, but that’s exactly what happens with quasi-SUVs. Some look so close to SUVs and some are just inches away from being sedans; it’s confusing to call them part of the same family. They are, though, and if you get to know them better, you might come to find that they aren’t better sedans or worse SUVs. They are their own thing and have a lot to offer a versatile driver.