Is your car an SUV or a crossover MPV? Here's how you can tell the difference - EMONG'S JOURNALS.COM

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Is your car an SUV or a crossover MPV? Here's how you can tell the difference

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Is your car an SUV or a crossover MPV? Here's how you can tell the difference
It can be confusing at times.

When you go and shop for a family car, chances are you've considered big, bulky vehicles that can accommodate more passengers and at the same time, allow a generous cargo space. You could have chosen between a sports utility vehicle (SUV) and a crossover multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). Both vehicles can carry 7 passengers, and both permit a liberal amount of load in their boots.

If you're starting to wonder "what's the difference?", here's how you can distinguish one from the other.

The difference is all about the platform

SUV - A sport utility vehicle or suburban utility vehicle (SUV) is a vehicle which uses the chassis of a light truck, but operated as a family vehicle. SUVs are similar to a large station wagon or estate car, though typically featuring tall interior packaging, high H-point seating, high center of gravity, high ground-clearance and especially four- or all-wheel-drive capability for on- or off-road ability. Some SUVs include the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or large sedan. Examples are the Ford Expedition (full size SUV) Toyota Fortuner (mid-size SUV) and the Hyundai Tucson (compact SUV).

MPV - A crossover or multi-purpose utility vehicle (MPV), meanwhile, is a vehicle built on a unibody car platform combining in highly variable degrees features of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) with those of a passenger vehicle, especially a station wagon or hatchback. It usually has the two-box design of a shared passenger and cargo volume with rear access via a third or fifth door, a liftgate – and flexibility to allow configurations that favor either passenger or cargo volume, e.g., fold-down rear seats. Examples are the Toyota Innova, Suzuki Ertiga, Honda Mobilio, and the Mitsubishi Xpander.

Common ground

Using unibody construction typical of passenger vehicles instead of the body-on-frame design of light trucks and the original SUVs, the crossover MPV combines SUV features – such as a tall interior, high H-point seating, high ground-clearance, and all-wheel-drive – with those of an automobile – including independent rear suspension, car-like handling, and lighter weight and better fuel economy than trucks or truck-based vehicles.

Crossover MPVs are typically designed for only light off-road capability, if any at all, and are offered with front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The term "crossover" is to describe a vehicle that was "crossing over" from the practicality of an SUV to the drivability and fuel efficiency of a car.


While the difference between an SUV and an MPV is clear, it doesn't always work in practice. Many shoppers have been using the terms interchangeably, referring to car-based, unibody vehicles as SUVs even though they're crossover MPVs by definition.

Not only are there a lot from which to choose, but with car manufacturers often swapping these terms, it can be tough even to know what’s what.

The result is that the term "SUV" is now often applied to both crossover MPVs and SUVs.

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