SUV vs. CUV: What’s the Difference Anyways?

Have you ever heard of a CUV before? Or is SUV the only automobile acronym that comes to mind immediately? If the CUV term sounds unfamiliar, you are not alone. Dealerships often use the two terms interchangeably, as both vehicles are very similar. Known formerly as a sport-utility vehicle, the SUV was originally designed with work in mind. It was essentially a glorified pick-up truck, with a traditional 4-door enclosure and  body-on-frame configuration and rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Today, most mid-size and compact SUVs are built more like cars, with a “unibody” that combines frame and body components, and they’re usually front- or all-wheel-drive. This makes them lighter, smoother and generally more fuel-efficient. They also include all of the newest and hottest technology trends that were once only privy to the car market. On the contrary, a cross-over utility vehicle (CUV) generally refers to a vehicle that isn’t as tall as an SUV, but still features a similar configuration: the cargo area is part of the cabin, rather than a separate trunk as on a car. It’s accessed by a top-hinged liftgate, or a side-hinged version that swings open like a door. With a greater height than the average family car but also the strength of a truck minus the rugged appearance, SUV’s and CUV’s became popular in more recent years. It can be hard to tell them apart sometimes, which is why we’ve examined the pros and cons of both the SUV and the CUV to see how they compare against one another.

How To Spot An SUV

If you’ve ever been confused on car terminology, rest assured that you are not alone. Often enough, even the best car experts and dealerships can mix up the SUV and the CUV every now and then. The major difference between the two vehicles lies in the vehicle’s design. A crossover is based on a car’s platform, while an SUV uses the chassis of a truck. The result is that crossovers use “unibody” architecture, meaning the body and frame are one piece, while SUVs use a “body on frame” design. In that case, the body is built separately from the frame and placed together later. Before hybrid models came about and automakers committed to a greener fuel economy, the term “SUV” brought up negative associations with large size and poor gas mileage.Because of this, many automakers started using the term “crossover” to describe a vehicle that was “crossing over” from the practicality of an SUV to the drivability and fuel efficiency of a car. The only way you’ll go wrong is by using the term “crossover” to define a body-on-frame SUV.

Characteristics of a CUV

CUVs are a cross between a sedan and a traditional SUV. As mentioned previously, as the auto market shifted, drivers were looking for something that provided the practicality of a family vehicle but combined with the perks of an off-road work vehicle. CUVs feature car-like underpinnings combined with the tall, roomy profiles of an SUV, like 8-passenger seating and a spacious cargo. They employ lighter but less rugged unibody construction and a front or all-wheel-drive layout. Thanks to their on-road-focused chassis and suspensions, CUVs generally ride more smoothly and maneuver more easily than SUVs. In addition, they are more thrifty at the pump and get significantly better mileage than SUVs.

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