2019 Land Cruiser driving off-road

Differences between a crossover and a regular SUV?

Crossover vs SUV: What’s the Difference?

More likely than not, you’ve heard the term crossover and crossover SUV when people talk about specific type of vehicles. These days, it almost feels like a buzzword. So, this begs the question: what makes something a crossover and what makes something just a regular SUV? Is there a strict set of criteria? Is one just a subclass of the other?

What are the differences between a crossover and a regular SUV?


View Our New Crossover and SUV Inventory


The Major Difference

There’s really one major difference when it comes to telling these two apart: unibody versus body-on-frame construction. Crossovers are unibody design (traditional car platform), whereas most SUVs are body-on-frame (traditional truck platform). We realize that’s just exchanging one bit of jargon for another, however, so let us explain.

2020 Toyota 4Runner parked on a rock

2020 RAV4 driving on city freeway

Body-On-Frame Construction

The first ever cars were body-on-frame. The chassis and the body are made separately, with the body being placed on top of the chassis. This has two major benefits: the chassis has higher torsional resistance and is easier to switch out. That translates into consumer advantages: SUVs can tow more and can be repaired more easily and cheaply. By the nature of their construction, these vehicles also have more ground clearance. The Toyota 4Runner is a body-on-frame vehicle.

Unibody Construction

This is how most passenger vehicles are currently made. The vehicle is one large piece. There are multiple benefits from this type of construction: they’re lighter, they crumple more easily, and lower to the ground. Translation: they get better fuel economy, they’re much safer in crashes, and they handle better than body-on-frame vehicles. The Toyota RAV4 is a unibody vehicle.

Still Wondering About Something?

There are more differences than that, but it mostly comes down to individual vehicle design. If you have any questions regarding Toyota crossovers and SUVs, we’d be happy to chat. If you have a specific crossover or SUV you’d like to try out, then don’t forget to schedule a test drive.