Crossovers vs SUVs

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF REX SANCHEZ for the daily tribune UNIBODY structure found in crossovers that are built from the get-go.

The term: “SUV” or “sport utility vehicle” is widely used on vehicles you see on the road that has a big and long body with a fifth door at the back instead of a trunk found in sedans. It has grown so much in popularity in recent times that automakers such as Ford Motor Company decided to focus their resources to develop SUVs.

But would you be surprised to know that not all cars with the aforementioned characteristics are actually SUVs? There is a good chance that the SUV-looking model that caught your attention is a crossover. The reason I said that is that there are way more crossover models in the local market than SUVs.

In terms of looks, the difference between crossovers and SUVs is hardly noticeable to untrained eyes. But when we start comparing the components used, you might have some thinking to do. So much so that these could become a deal breaker for you when you are looking for your next family car or you just want a mobility partner with more space as compared to a sedan or hatchback.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the differences between the two vehicle types to know their pros and cons. Ford Philippines is one of the few brands locally that offer a lineup with at least a crossover and an SUV. So, for our reference, we have here the Ford Territory (Panther Black) and Ford Everest (Lightning Blue) to represent crossovers and SUVs, respectively.

I. Size
Size-wise, SUVs are almost always larger than crossovers in most areas. The Ford Everest SUV spans 4,914 mm in length, 1,923 mm in width, and 1,842 mm in height, while the Ford Territory crossover is measured 4,580-mm long, 1,936-mm wide, and 1,647-mm tall.

Thanks to the long body of SUVs, most models in this segment, at least in the Philippine market, can offer a seven-seating configuration. One of the staple SUVs locally is the Toyota Fortuner, a direct rival of the Ford Everest. This makes SUVs an ideal choice for big families that might need extra cargo space on weekend trips.

Meanwhile, most crossover models you can buy in the country come with a five-seater setup. But like always, there are exemptions to the rule. In Ford Philippines’ lineup, the company is offering the Ford Explorer, a crossover that can accommodate up to seven occupants.

FORD Territory has a 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine capable of generating 141 horsepower and 225N-m of torque.

So, if space is a deal breaker on your shortlist, then you might be better off with an SUV. Ford Philippines even has the Expedition SUV that offers an eight-seating interior. But do note that with extra seating capacity in the third row, you are paying more for the seats. Budget is now thrown into the mix, which we will get to know more about in a second.

II. Engine
Let’s move now to the heart of these machines which is the engine. Most crossovers are powered by a gasoline engine usually smaller than those found in SUVs. For instance, the Ford Territory has a 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine capable of generating 141 horsepower and 225N-m of torque.

By contrast, SUVs generally use diesel power units. The Ford Everest comes with a 2.0-liter diesel engine available with either a single turbo or bi-turbo setup. Other competitors of the Everest get even larger diesel engines such as the Toyota Fortuner, which draws its power from a 2.8-liter turbodiesel mill.

So, how do these differ in real-life applications? A diesel engine is an ideal choice for hauling passengers and cargo due to its higher torque as compared to gasoline counterparts. To understand that easier, big trucks used commercially are powered by a diesel engine instead of gasoline because of the good low-end torque needed to move heavy loads.

But choosing diesel also has disadvantages. One of these is the maintenance cost, which is generally more expensive than gasoline engines. So, you need to be hands-on in keeping your diesel-powered SUV in tip-top shape to prolong your ownership experience. You also have to deal with the fact that diesel is now more expensive than gasoline at local gas stations since the middle of 2022.

III. Comfort factor
In addition to the said differences between diesel and gasoline engines, comfort is also involved. Crossovers with a gasoline engine are generally more comfortable than SUVs with a diesel power unit due to the rougher vibrations and noisier operations produced by the latter.

But what truly sets SUVs apart from crossovers is the type of chassis used. SUVs are underpinned by a body-on-frame chassis, a.k.a. “ladder frame.” As the name suggests, a ladder frame chassis has a separate body and frame as opposed to the unibody structure found in crossovers that are built from the get-go.

SIZE-WISE, SUVs are almost always larger than crossovers in most areas. The Ford Everest SUV spans 4,914 mm in length, 1,923 mm in width, and 1,842 mm in height.

A ladder frame chassis is generally heavier and more rugged, making it a more ideal use for off-roading. Thanks to the separate bodywork, an SUV has body twist that can take road impact better. Meanwhile, a unibody chassis offers a sedan-like driving experience but has limited off-road capabilities.

THANKS to the long body of SUVs, most models in this segment, at least in the Philippine market, can offer a seven-seating configuration.

In other words, crossovers should feel more comfortable driving as compared to SUVs. This holds true in my experience driving the Ford Territory and the Ford Everest. If you’ve heard the Filipino term “matagtag” before when riding an SUV, that’s most probably because of the use of a ladder frame chassis.

IV. Price and verdict
Due to the wide array of selections in the local market, the prices vary a lot. But just to give you a clear picture, you can get a crossover for as low as P750,000, while most SUVs start at the P1.5-million mark. If you opt for a 4×4 drivetrain, you should expect to pay more than P2 million.

Both crossovers and SUVs have their advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to your lifestyle and mobility needs. I wouldn’t recommend sacrificing the benefits of a crossover in favor of an SUV if you don’t have a family yet and spend most of your time in the city. Once you start to settle down, an SUV is definitely worth the upgrade.


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