Whoever thought the crossover would be the engine that drives the car market back to respectability?
Well, it's happening, but you'd never know it from the sales charts. For some insane reason, crossovers are counted as trucks. But anyone with even a scant knowledge of such things knows they are the station wagons of the 21st century. And, therefore, cars.
Station wagons were the staple of the soccer moms of their day, just as minivans were a generation later. And just as with minivans, the moms grew weary of their wagons.
A friend with six youngsters often told me, "I'll be so glad when Larry (her youngest) starts to drive. Then I can get rid of this darned Country Squire."
True to her word, she assigned the Squire to the kids and bought herself a turbocharged two-seater. In its window was a small card that read: "Mom's car. Do not touch."
Midrange cars, with 2.9 million deliveries in the first 11 months of this year, are the best-selling vehicles in the nation, and crossovers are second, with 1.8 million. Both reported year-to-year sales gains in November, but both are down for the year to date, CUVs by 8 percent, midrangers by 22 percent.
The crossover-station wagon affinity has many bases. Both are built on car platforms; both are low, making them easy to enter and exit; both ride and handle like cars, and most of all, they look like cars. They lack "the ugh factor," which is the sound I utter whenever I see an SUV.
There are drawbacks, of course. To my mind, there are too many crossover nameplates on the market; 52 were listed on the November sales report. Every major maker felt it had to get into the act; many with two or three entries. Remember, too many eggs will break the basket.