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CUV is a type of vehicle that’s slightly bigger than sedans and smaller than sports utility vehicles (SUVs). It’s also no slouch on the road, making it popular for people who want a reliable daily driver that doesn’t take up much parking space. In fact, CUVs have grown in market share from under 4% in 2000 to nearly 40% in 2018.

What Does CUV Stand For?

CUV stands for crossover utility vehicle. Crossovers are similar to SUVs but are less rugged and less suitable for off-roading. They’re designed for street driving with the same seating and cargo versatility as SUVs.

Pros of CUVs

Honda CR V
Crossovers are affordable, spacious, efficient, and easy to drive, making them appealing to newer drivers or those who want a quality vehicle without splurging. Image credit: Honda Newsroom.

Crossovers are affordable, spacious, efficient, and easy to drive, making them appealing to newer drivers or those who want a quality vehicle without splurging.


CUVs are relatively inexpensive because of their architecture. A crossover’s body, floor plan, and chassis form a single structure, which makes manufacturing a CUV cheaper compared to bigger vehicle types.


Crossovers are small and light, making them incredibly fuel-efficient. Despite their size, they can pull heavy loads and handle off-roading better than cars.

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Some crossovers have a second row for passengers, resulting in a comfortably roomy cabin. Additionally, most designs allow drivers to fold the last-row seat for cargo storage.

Easy to Drive

CUVs are easy to drive, even for newer drivers because of their smaller frame. They’re based on car platforms as opposed to trucks, so maneuvering them around traffic and out of parking lots is a breeze.

Cons of CUVs

The two notable disadvantages of crossovers are their limited power and relative lack of traction. 

These drawbacks occur because CUVs mainly offer front-wheel drive, as opposed to four-wheel (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

4WD and AWD both generate power on all four wheels, which gives them that extra torque needed to pull heavier loads.

CUVs vs. SUVs

The main difference between CUVs and SUVs is their size. SUVs are bigger, making them more powerful than crossovers. Additionally, the way SUVs are built allows them to haul more load, tow better, and go off-road without any difficulties.

SUVs are also roomier for passengers because of their third-row seating and bigger interior. Mid and full-sized SUVs offer a foldable third-passenger row, which allows for a more versatile cargo space.

Crossovers have the advantage over SUVs in terms of fuel efficiency and ease of use because they’re smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic than SUVs. In addition, SUVs have to carry around extra weight since they’re constructed from multiple parts welded together.

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Should I Buy a CUV or an SUV?

The decision between getting a crossover or an SUV is entirely up to you. They both have advantages over the other, and it’s strictly a matter of personal choice, driving tendencies, and lifestyle.

What Are the Best CUVs?

There are a lot of crossovers to choose from, but some of the best ones available on the market are the following:

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is an elegant crossover with a slick and modern design and reliable power to boot. It’s also economically better than other crossovers, as it only consumes between eight to 10 liters per 100km on the highway.

This model is comfortable to drive, as it has enhanced seats, body, and suspension. It also reduces the level of road noise. These features help decrease fatigue, which should make for a better driving experience.

Honda CR-V

In terms of passenger and cargo space, the Honda CR-V is one of the best crossovers available. The CR-V has a maximum cargo capacity of 76.5 cubic feet, which trumps the 69.8 cu-ft of the Toyota RAV4.

This model is also one of the safest crossovers today, thanks to its state-of-the-art technology. The CR-V has intelligent safety and driver-assisted features to alert you while driving.

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One example is Honda’s adaptive cruise control (ACC) feature that maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. It also brakes and accelerates as needed, making it easier to drive during stop-and-go traffic.

Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek is one of the most affordable crossovers available. With a starting price of less than $25,000, it offers all-around value with its superb safety features, longevity, and power.

It’s equipped with upgraded EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This safety feature lets drivers scan the road for unanticipated dangers thanks to a set of dual-color cameras placed near the rearview mirror.

Around 97% of Crosstreks sold in the last ten years are still on the road, so they’re a great choice for those looking for a daily driver that’s built to last.

About The Author
CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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