The small-SUV boom has solved a major auto-industry problem

2016 Honda HRV
The Honda HR-V. Honda

Over at Car & Driver, Eddie Alterman makes an interesting argument from why we should be somewhat thankful that the small SUV or crossover has seen booming sales of late, while the sedan has been sinking.

“The nascent aspect of the crossover gives designers more leeway to experiment,” he writes. “The mini-crossover segment, for example, is a riot of forms and styles and expressions of brand cues. The Jeep Renegade has little in common stylistically with the Honda HR-V, lashed together in the same segment. They are for different people.”

He goes on to contrast this with the dreary sameness of sedan land:

“The competition has been so fierce in sedan segments as to make all regress toward the mean — similar interior options, similar performance, similar trunk space, simi­larly sober styles …. The sedan may be benchmarking itself out of existence.”

Jaguar F Pace
The Jaguar F-PACE. Newspress

These are excellent points. And the situation is really a lucky one for the auto industry. In the past, the only place that designers could really cut loose was with sports cars and supercars. Because there’s only so much you can do that’s different and fresh when you’re stating point is a rectangle with a wheel at all four corners.

Designers are also rising to the challenge, gladly. For example, the new Jaguar F-PACE is one of the best-looking vehicles the legendary Ian Callum has ever created — and the best-looking SUV currently on the market.

The good old sedan has been in decline for a while. But before we get too upset about that, we should join Alterman in enthusing about the upsides.

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