SUV design choice: Crossover or it's over

Luca Ciferri is senior reporter at Automotive News Europe.
To tell the difference between a truck-based SUV and a car-based crossover today, you need to check the technical specifications. Design is no longer a way to differentiate.

Not only are bull bars gone, but the “tough enough to go anywhere” look of SUVs is disappearing in favor of a more comfy, crossover-like appearance.

The morphing is a consequence of the anti-SUV fervor that started almost a decade ago in the United States and has spread worldwide. To survive, SUVs had to look more like crossovers.

The redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee is a stylish vehicle, more refined outside and premium inside. Little resemblance remains between the 2011 Grand Cherokee and Jeep Wagoneers of the past.

Combining off-road capability and class was something Land Rover started with the first Range Rover in 1970. A vehicle that could go anywhere yet was as refined as a premium sedan was a winning formula. Audi, BMW, Mercedes and even Porsche eventually had to follow suit.

Hummers communicated the opposite: “I'm big. I'm bulky. I'm tough, and I do not care about the environment.”

Not surprisingly, Hummer quickly went from being cool to being closed. From glory to graveyard in just nine years is probably a record in the modern auto industry.

Hummer designs looked great. But the world changed too quickly, and the brand did not have time to adapt.