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Cost, Style & Ease: Crossovers Successfully 'Fill A Niche'

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Mark Savage
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The 2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD compares to cars like the VW Beetle or Mini Cooper, a fine compact crossover that borders on cute.

Crossover vehicles have been steadily growing and taking over the auto market. Starting at just 4% of car sales in 2000, they reached about 40% of sales in 2018.

The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue are the three top sellers, according to Lake Effect's auto contributor Mark Savage. And while we may be driving less right now, the demand for more crossovers likely won’t slow down.

There's a few key things that make crossovers a popular choice: cost, style, easy to drive, easy to use and fuel economy. 

"As cars and sedans and coop’s have kind of, at least decreased in popularity, it was natural that then something like this was gonna fill a niche because the crossovers on the other end of the scale had already been growing and moving ahead," notes Savage.

Within the crossover market there's also the recent introduction of compact crossovers. However, despite an even smaller size, Savage says that doesn't always translate to a rough ride. 

"My kind of standard is about a 106-inch wheelbase to get yourself a decent ride on our crater-like roads that we have in Wisconsin," he notes. "But some of these are a little smaller ... but they have worked much harder I think to make these much more manageable and smoother, so that you don't feel like you're driving a truck — which is one of the things that wasn't attractive about SUVs."

This year alone: The Honda CR-V was redone and included a hybrid version, the Kia Seltos with all wheel drive, the Hyundai Venue for those who like boxy styling, a new Subaru Crosstrek to come in the fall, and Toyota is reintroducing its Venza. "[The Venza is] going to be a highly styled kind of a compact, little bit bigger crossover. And I think it's going to be a little more luxurious," says Savage. 

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.
Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is also the executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and editor of FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha. Savage is an Indianapolis native where he fell in love with cars, the Indy 500 and all things fast, dating back to his pedal car days. He speaks with fellow contributor Dan Harmon each month.