Coupé crossovers have become a thing. Let’s get over it

Alpina XD4 Allrad

Cars are an important part of our society, which is well-known for continuously going through changes. In nowadays, we interact with cars in multiple ways besides mere transportation, regardless of whether we own one. Since automakers aspire to fulfill people’s needs as much as possible and these needs change all the time, it’s only logical that they also change their product lineup from time to time. We’ve always known all that, but we seem to ignore it every now and then.

There are several ways to perform these changes. Some automakers update their existing models following a new design identity, others develop items focused on meeting the latest demands, others change their available lineup in each country, and others change the car models they offer. In other words, they rethink their characteristics and try to get them better ones. After all, who said that any car type is capable of satisfying every customer and will always be?

Left: Jeep Cherokee, one of the first SUVs. Right: Mercedes-Benz R-Class, one of the first crossovers

Who said the idea of crossover car is new?

Pickup trucks, for instance, became popular as a city-friendly alternative to regular trucks. In the 1980s, minivans emerged as a very practical solution to people-moving. A decade later, SUVs thrived on the fact that people wanted to combine urban comfort and luxury to off-road ruggedness. In the 2000s, crossovers rose to fame thanks to the goal of offering the best of several body types in one. Although many people don’t admit it, inventing new categories has always been a thing.

Obviously, none of that means everyone must like everything makers concoct and even if they did, none of that must be permanent. The Citroën C3 Pluriel, for instance, featured a concept of modular body which never really took off. Minivans, in turn, attracted station wagon drivers in the 1980s as fast as they lost them to crossovers twenty years later. In other words, while the public is free to buy what it wants, the industry is also free to bring new ideas and shouldn’t be blamed for it.

Left: Citroën C3 Pluriel in open-top mode. Right: Dodge Caravan, one of the first minivans

What about today’s new body types?

Coupé crossovers are one of the latest of those ideas. BMW came up with this body style in 2007 through the X6. Basically, it consists of changing a regular SUV by giving it a sloped, coupé-like roofline. You get the same driving height and imponent looks but skip the boxy silhouette. Makers have been putting a premium on its price, but it’s a matter of time for someone to try the opposite. The truth is, this body style isn’t better or worse than any other. So why do people trash it so much?

Beauty is always a subjective issue but, in general, these models have followed everything that makes people like the other bodies. They follow the respective maker’s visual identity, their glass-to-sheetmetal ratio is adequate, they make good use of creases and chrome strips… Since this body is still uncommon, it doesn’t need much to stand out in the crowd: even the high-performance trims come with discreet changes. Much of that hate actually comes from the internal conflicts some people have.

Left: BMW X6. Right: Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé

How exactly do people react to coupé crossovers?

They frequently deem them ugly, expensive, non-practical, non-sporty, cramped and even useless, among others. The first two items were covered on the previous paragraph. The other three are different because they come from comparisons: people are complaining that this body type doesn’t stack up against coupé, minivan or SUV. The thing is, while that might be true, complaining about it isn’t relevant: if all body types were good at everything, why there should be more than one?

Coupés are aerodynamic and stylish; hatchbacks are compact and versatile; pickup trucks are practical and spacious; and the list could go on. Automakers are perfectly aware that each body type has its particular group of advantages and disadvantages. They offer us many of them because each one turns out to be more suitable to some types of buyers. The simple fact that some of us have sedans and others have SUVs, to name only a few, means that we know of this variety and actually make use of it.

Left: Mini Paceman. Right: Renault Arkana

Now, how can you describe this body type?

Primarily focused on style. Coupé crossovers appeal to groups of up to four, whether friends getting together or a family with young children. Although some have moderate off-road capability, they’re not intended to leave the city. Their strong sales arguments include attractive external design and elegant cabin, rather than low prices or top-notch fuel efficiency. These cars focus on emotions and end up stirring people’s aforementioned internal conflicts. This is what leads to all that rejection.

We tend to prioritize the rational characteristics when analyzing a car. Even though we do appreciate beauty and luxury, it often matters more to us that the car has a large trunk or is comparatively cheap. Therefore, when a car is primarily focused on emotional ones, we consider it frivolous. Some of us express it simply by not buying the car, while others go further (lower, to be honest) and mock it and its buyers. Now, once we think about it, why do we do it? Why can’t we allow ourselves to indulge a little bit?

Left: Audi Q8. Right: Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé

All we need is a new perspective

Cars are expensive products which we keep for a couple of years. We are entitled to have them satisfy our needs as much as possible, but that can only happen if we choose the appropriate ones. That requires some research on the market and even more research on ourselves so as to understand what we truly want and need. Sure, the lower your price range, the less satisfied you’re likely to end up, but there are always some options better than others. As a result, there are people whose best option turns out to be coupé crossovers.

What’s the best way to deal with that, then? Accepting that this body type is just another body type available on the market. Since sedan buyers don’t look down on those who prefer station wagons, for instance, why should they do so on people who are willing to try coupé crossovers? Automakers create “uncommon” body types to try and better satisfy their customers. Therefore, buying them if you want to — and not standing in the way if you don’t — helps make the automotive market more capable of giving people what they need.

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Content writer and engineer-to-be who aspires to work in car design. If you like cars but not the stereotypes that surround them, give my articles a try.

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Danillo Almeida

Danillo Almeida

Content writer and engineer-to-be who aspires to work in car design. If you like cars but not the stereotypes that surround them, give my articles a try.

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