SUVs vs. Crossover SUVs: Are They the Same?

SUVs vs. Crossover SUVs: Are They the Same?

It’s been raining SUVs (crossover SUVs to be exact) in Pakistan for the last few years. The truth is we are so overwhelmed by the sleek design and advanced features these new crossover SUVs offer that it has overshadowed the legacy of true off road SUVs. 

Many people do not realize what it’s like to experience the power and thrill of a true offroader. The confidence of 4WD, independent chassis, differential locks and rugged suspension is unmatched by crossover SUVs. 

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Let’s find out more about the crossover SUV vs SUV comparison. 

What are Crossovers and SUVs?

Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) better known as Crossover SUV is a unibody construction vehicle that’s inspired by Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV). No wonder why these have the same bulky and wide dimensions. 

SUVs are off road vehicles that can also be used for urban, everyday driving. SUVs have an independent frame which is then fixed with a body during the production process. SUVs are meant for offroading as they have the durability, functionality and transmission to do so. 


Now let’s compare each aspect of crossovers vs SUVs:  

1. Frame and Chassis Design

Crossover SUVs are built just like cars, made from a single piece. This type of formation is called unibody construction. Vehicles with unibody construction are lightweight which improves the overall ride quality. Despite having a higher sitting position as compared to a sedan, crossover SUVs more or less offer similar driving pleasure as of a luxury sedan. 

Suzuki Vitara

Chassis and frame of an off-road vehicle are designed separately. This is known as body-on-frame design. The fact that SUVs use body-on-frame design which means the body sits on top of the frame/chassis. So it has to be broader than the already wide chassis. This is the reason why SUVs look wider and larger than the crossovers.  

Like a truck, the chassis is built separately and the frame sits on top of the chassis. Both frame and body are then connected later during the production process. This allows for much higher strength and loading capacity as compared to the crossover SUVs.

2. Size Difference

Crossover SUVs are not meant for off-roading. Crossover SUVs are meant to be driven around urban and well-paved roads. As these are city vehicles, auto manufacturers tend to keep them smaller in size than proper SUVs. Almost all crossover SUVs launched in Pakistan are compact or midsize crossover SUVs. Globally, crossover SUVs are available in almost all sizes from subcompact SUVs i.e. KIA Stonic, to full-size SUVs like GMC Yukon. 


SUVs are built for tougher terrains and for carrying weight. So these are large size vehicles with some models even larger than full size crossover SUVs. 

It is the reason why people buy Land Cruiser which is a popular SUV in Pakistan.

3. Suspension

Remove the outer shell and you are left with a sedan chassis and suspension. The suspension of crossover SUVs is identical to that of sedans. Most crossover SUVs use McPherson Strut as a front suspension. This suspension is also common across many sedans. Just like the front, the rear suspension is also identical to sedans. Multi-link and dual-wishbone suspension are used in a range of crossover SUVs including MG HS, KIA Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Oshan X7 etc. 


Despite being independent and rugged suspension, both Multi-link or dual wishbone are tuned to deliver comfort. Which again explains why these are meant for city driving. The best you can do with this suspension in a crossover is desert racing. 

In comparison, an offroad vehicle has specialized independent suspension that allows for higher shock absorption and independent response to each tyre. The independent chassis also acts as a shock absorber which is then transferred to the body of the SUV. Dual Wishbone is also preferred for off road SUVs, but it’s tuned and delivers much higher performance as compared to crossover SUVs. 

Simply put, independent suspensions are the way to go for off road SUVs. Most auto manufacturers tune it and sell it with fancy names like Kinetic Dynamic Suspension in Land Cruiser. 

4. AWD vs 4WD suspension

Almost every crossover SUV uses AWD suspension which gives another hint that it’s not comparable to SUVs. AWD systems ensure maximum traction and power to each wheel. The system is fully electric and drivers do not have control of separate differentials. Car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) decides how much power and torque each wheel needs at any given moment. 

Recently, Audi has developed a partial AWD system that allows controls over power and torque of both front and rear axles. However, it still lacks the control of a 4WD system.

Off-road-suspension-from bottom

In comparison, off-road vehicles use 4WD vehicles which offer low and high differentials which can be manually adjusted from a separate lever. This system offers superior control across off-road terrains. Coupled with excellent absorbing power and differential locks, no wonder why these machines won’t get stuck in any tough terrain.  

 5. Transmission

Transmission is an underrated part of every vehicle. No matter how powerful and efficient an engine is, it’s the transmission that controls and effectively distributes the power to the wheels. The most popular crossover SUV in Pakistan uses DCT transmission which was never built for offroad purposes. Instead, it’s a sensitive transmission and costly to repair. KIA Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Oshan X7 and MG HS all use DCT transmission. 


SUV manufacturers are well aware of this fact and that’s why you only see less efficient automatic transmission in off road vehicles. Land Cruiser, Revo and Fortuner all use conventional automatic transmission due to the durability it offers in off road conditions. 

6. Safety

Safety is a huge concern for everyone. Crossover SUVs are believed to be one of the safest vehicles. This is due to their extended bodies, strong build quality and huge crumple zone. The crumple zone acts as a shock absorber, absorbing the impact of an accident. Wide dimensions won’t let it roll over and it’s often equipped with multiple airbags and advanced pre-collision mitigation systems. 

Popular Crossover SUVs you can buy on OLX Pakistan are as follows.

SUVs have specialized chassis that extend to the nose of the car. Keep in mind chassis is made of strongest metal used in the whole car body. 

7. Offroad compatibility

Many people take crossover SUVs as offroad vehicles.  As mentioned earlier, these are not meant for offroading. If you are planning to take your crossover SUV to a proper off-road terrain, it will take a beating due to three major reasons:

  • Ground clearance is not abundant 
  • It doesn’t have seperate differentials 
  • The suspension is not best suited for off road terrains

These weaknesses are an off road vehicle’s strongest points. Here is why offroad vehicles are most compatible for offroading:

  • Ampel ground clearance due to body on frame design
  • Multiple differentials allow for manual control across both axles
  • Suspension used in SUVs are best suited for offroading 

Are there any similarities between Crossover SUVs and SUVs?

Despite their differences, there are some similarities between the two. These include the following: 

  • Raised riding position
  • Good ground clearance
  • Excellent cabin space
  • Boot space is accessible through the cabin since there is no separate trunk. 

Knowing all the differences and similarities, which one do you prefer, crossover or SUV? Let us know in the comments below. 

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