Cars are an extremely personal thing – everyone has their own set of favorites and likes their own group of automakers. But even enthusiasts can get together in their hatred for crossovers. And there’s a simple reason as to why – the body style serves no purpose.
For episode number 10 in season 2, “The Grand Tour” tested three high-performance crossovers. Jeremy Clarkson was behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Richard Hammond brought a Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack to the party, and James May drove the Range Rover Velar.
We’re sure you’ve all watched the episode by now, but if you haven’t or if you need a refresher, check it out again before I start bashing the machines.
The trio of vehicles actually cover the range of available crossovers in the segment well. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the most raucous of the bunch, Macan Turbo Performance Pack is the best all-rounder, and Velar is the best looking, which is a major selling point for crossovers.
If I remove my salty enthusiast glasses for a moment, it’s easy to see why American consumers are flocking to crossovers and SUVs in hordes. The vehicles are high off the ground, have a spacious cargo area, and have words like all-wheel drive and all-terrain somewhere in the monroney. All of these things are important when it snows a few inches in winter and when the time comes for the biweekly Costco run.
But if that’s all it takes, what’s wrong with a sedan? Or God forbid, a wagon? They even have ones that are built to handle some dirt. So why are crossovers such a hit? Even when I take a step back and try to understand the situation, I still don’t get it. And after watching “The Grand Tour’s” episode, I think the trio were trying to show just how idiotic the SUV and crossover craze really is.
The episode starts with the crew heading to Canada and attempting to beat or get as close to a lap time that was set by a BMW M3 CS sedan, an actual-to-goodness sports car. The sporty M3 managed to lap the track in 2:22, which none of the crossover’s managed to get close to. The Alfa was the quickest crossover of the bunch and managed to set a time of 2:40, which is 18 seconds off the pace of the BMW.
And it wasn’t just the lap times that were off, all of the presenters pointed out flaws in the vehicles’ designs that made them tiresome to drive on a track. I know a lot of you are probably saying something a long the lines of, “The Stelvio Quadrifoglio may have 505 hp, but it’s not a track machine.”
Fine, its SUV bodystyle should be good at holding large cargo though, right? The crew then set off to try to fit dogs into the back of the crossovers. And before anyone claims that no one puts dogs into the back of a SUV, my parents used to do it with two Saint Bernards, which were massive dogs, and it all worked out.
Unfortunately, none of the dogs were very happy in the back of the SUV and the moronic electric tailgates meant that the doors couldn’t be closed. So if you’re planning to go to Ikea or Home Depot, these cars aren’t going to be very helpful.
Still, I can overlook all of this stuff, because chances are, if you’re wealthy enough to purchase one of these vehicles, you’re probably going to get furniture or large items delivered to you. So, I can overlook these downsides. The majority of realistic owners won’t be showing up to track days trying to set blistering lap times. What they will be doing, though, is possibly traversing over rough terrain and driving in inclement weather.
The next two tests were to see how the crossovers dealt with interesting terrain. The trio set off to beat a horse around a dirt arena in a barrel racing test. Incredibly, the Macan Turbo Performance Package and Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s all-wheel-drive systems freaked out. Both crossovers entered into “limp-home” mode. The Velar managed to survive the test, but took twice as long as the horse to finish the course.
The last test saw the presenters attempt to cross over rough terrain while towing a boat. These crossovers aren’t meant for towing and aren’t meant for being rugged off-roaders. Hilariously, Clarkson ditches the Alfa and goes with a Ford F-150 Raptor for the test and reveals just how worthless the other crossovers are.
Watching Hammond attempt to get up a hill was painful, as the Porsche looked like it was fish out of water. The Velar didn’t have as hard of a time, but boy the F-150 Raptor just embarrassed the others. The entire episode revealed that crossovers are useless. They’re not as good as a sedan on the track, not as good as a minivan when it comes to holding cargo, and not as good as a pickup when it comes to off-roading.
Hopefully, non-enthusiasts watched the episode and saw how ridiculous crossovers really are. So what can they do? If you’re need of a vehicle that can hold numerous dogs and can go off-roading, get a proper SUV. A Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover Ranger Rover, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler, or Jeep Grand Cherokee are all great options that can do a better job than a regular crossover.
None of these options, though, will be good on a track. But there’s a solution for that, as well. Go on Craigslist or eBay and find a cheap Mazda MX-5 Miata. That little sports car will be funnier than any crossover on a track and won’t break the bank like one of the useless machines will either.
I understand why minivans exist, I even get why the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator are cash cows for the brands, but I will never understand why crossovers are popular. And it looks like the trio from “The Grand Tour” share my same rationale.