At a glance, it can be hard to tell the difference between a crossover like the Mazda CX-30 from an SUV. It doesn’t help that most dealerships use the terms more or less interchangeably. But if you’re in the middle of shopping for a new Mazda SUV from a Pittsfield Mazda dealership, we can clear up this crossover vs SUV question once and for all.
Crossovers look a lot like SUVs and offer a number of the same advantages — raised ground clearance, a two-box design that makes great use of space, and the ability to get power to all four wheels.
But they’re built differently, using what’s called unibody construction, where the body and frame are a complete unit. This has its advantages; a crossover like the Mazda CX-5 is strong, but it’s also lighter and more fuel-efficient than an SUV.
The drivelines are also different, with crossovers typically using an AWD system like the Mazda i-Activ AWD® system instead of four-wheel drive.
What makes an SUV different from a crossover? There are a few things. To begin with, SUVs use body-on-frame construction, similar to what you’d find on a full-size pickup truck. That’s strong, but it’s also a lot heavier.
So, while vehicle performance benefits in some regards (like towing capacity), it suffers in others. A vehicle that’s built like a truck tends to drive like one, which is why the unibody-based Mazda CX-9 offers better driving dynamics and fuel efficiency than many competing ladder-frame three-row SUVs.
There is a case to be made for traditional SUV construction. When you need towing capabilities that rival a compact pickup truck, or if you’re doing extreme off-roading that involves rock crawling, mudding, or fording deep water, body-on-frame construction is better adapted to those things.
But what if the extent of your off-roading is a dirt road, a campground, or navigating the snow when winter hits Massachusetts? That’s how most of us drive, and under those circumstances, a Mazda crossover outfitted with all-wheel drive is a great fit.
More importantly, if you’re spending most of your time on blacktop, its engaging driving dynamics and better road manners will serve you better over the longer term.
If you’ve read this far and you’re still wondering whether you’d do better with a crossover or SUV, visit Berkshire Mazda. We’ll show you the many great choices in our inventory, explore your needs and driving patterns, and make sure you get the right fit.