What’s The Difference Between an SUV and a Crossover?

Shopping for SUVs and Crossovers

If you’re shopping for a vehicle, you have no doubt run into the terms SUV and crossover. They often seem to be used interchangeably, which only adds to the confusion. The truth is, most people call anything kind of truck-shaped with big wheels and tires an SUV. Manufacturers tend to be more specific with the terms, but consumers are stuck somewhere in the middle wondering what’s what sometimes. Not to fear, Long Island’s favorite large used car dealership, Major World is here to clear it all up for you. 

An SUV profile on the left and a crossover profile on the right - crossover and SUV differences concept image

What’s the Difference Between a Crossover and an SUV?

Ever since the Ford Crown Victoria went off the market in 2011, every new car sold in the U.S. has had unibody construction. Basically, that means the whole car is a shell that also provides structural integrity. Body-on-frame vehicles, on the other hand, have a rigid steel ladder frame to which the suspension system and powertrain are attached. The body of the vehicle is then attached on top of it all, like a shell. 

There are two basic types of vehicle construction:

  • Unibody: Body and frame are one piece, and the body provides the structure.
  • Body-on-frame: Body sits on top of a steel ladder frame which provides the structure.

Generally speaking, SUVs are body-on-frame and based on a pickup truck platform and crossovers are unibody and based on a modified car platform. But, most people call them all SUVs. Yeah, we know. It’s confusing. That’s part of why we organize them all as “SUVs” on our website. But it’s still good to know the difference between them when you’re shopping at a large used car dealership that carries all of the above. 

Should I Buy a Truck-Based SUV or a Car-Based Crossover?

Deciding what type of SUV-like vehicle to get comes down to what you’re going to use it for and what kind of driving qualities you want. Visiting a large used car dealership in NYC will give you the opportunity to to test drive several different vehicles back-to-back so you can compare them better. Major World welcomes you to come test drive our huge selection of low-mileage luxury SUVs and modern AWD crossovers.

One popular myth is that body-on-frame vehicles are safer in an accident. The truth is, all things being equal (e.g. curb weight) a unibody crossover is just as safe or safer than an SUV with a frame. Crash safety tests make that clear. Unibody construction has become very sophisticated and they are making some very tough, very rigid unibody vehicles now. One advantage a body-on-frame vehicle does have in a crash though is it can sometimes be easier and cheaper to repair after an accident.

What You Should Know About Body-on-Frame SUVs

The main advantage of body-on-frame is torsional strength for towing or carrying very heavy weight. A body-on-frame vehicle, like a truck-based SUV has a steel ladder-like structure it rides on. That helps it resist twisting or flexing forces from heavy cargo or a heavy trailer being towed. Most body-on-frame SUVs use a modified pickup truck platform. 

You should buy a body-on-frame SUV if…

  • You plan on towing more than 5,000 lbs.
  • You’re going to do some hardcore off-roading (or like to think you will)
  • You like trucks and just want something that feels and drives more like a “real truck”. 

Examples of body-on-frame SUVs include:

What You Should Know About Unibody Crossovers

The main advantage of unibody construction is that it makes for a lighter, roomier vehicle. The fact that unibody vehicles are lighter is better for MPG and everyone likes a roomier vehicle with a lower, flatter floor that’s easier to get in and out of. That’s why most vehicles at any large used car dealership these days are unibody. It’s also got a lot to do with why crossover-type SUVs are super popular. 

You should buy a unibody crossover-type SUV if…

  • You will rarely tow and it’ll be less than 5,000 lbs if you do. 
  • You’re looking for a more car-like ride and handling.
  • Gas mileage is a priority for you. 

Examples of unibody crossover-type vehicles include:

New York’s Favorite Large Used Car Dealership

We hope our article about SUVs and crossovers was helpful to you. The bottom line is, don’t overthink it. This is just some information to help you choose the best vehicle for you. But there’s no better way to know for sure than a test drive…so you know what to do! 

Check out our massive inventory through our online search portal, pick out what you want to drive, and come and see us! You can even pre-qualify for financing right here if you want. Don’t settle for anything less than the best large used car dealership near the NYC Metro Area. You deserve the Major World standard of customer care. Give us a call now at (866) 614-2884.

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