by Martha Hindes
coined the term "crossover" put the best description possible on a segment
of vehicles that nobody can quite classify.
come in small to very large sizes, have anemic or overpowering engines, and can
range from a beefed up wagon to a nearly trucklike rendering with solid offroad
credentials. All seem to stress a car-like ride rather than the buck and bounce
often associated with trucks.
seems to differentiate them from the pure autos or trucks that came before are
some attributes. Among those usually are a more car-like unit body construction
("unibody," as the industry calls it), rather than a frame of tubes,
bars and ladder-type underpinnings that normally undergird a truck. They can feature
the bare minimum of amenities such as cloth seats and minimal price to their loaded
counterparts powered by gutsy engines and a potpourri of technologically advanced
gadgets. Some are nearly like
minivans, minus the sliding doors that can doom
it to the "soccer mom" heap, but sporting the enormous room and usability
of those vehicles.
the crossover designation is undergoing a transformation as this group continues
to fragment -- like a sparkler scattering light in ever-increasing directions
-- adding "cross utility," "sport wagon," and "sport
activity" among the recently coined descriptions. Such variety makes one
thing a certainty: As long as crossovers are around, buying a vehicle will never