The Chevrolet Tahoe is most definitely an SUV. The Mazda Miata is most definitely a car. The BMW X6? That’s a bit harder to say for sure. The desire to cross-pollinate strains of car DNA has led to some pretty wacky creations that try to blend the versatility and utility of an SUV with the sprightly reflexes of a sports car. Or any car, really, that doesn’t handle like a loaded semi.
Some cars, like the aforementioned X6, have been rather successful in this pursuit. The X6 is based on the X5, but has been tweaked to perform in a more athletic nature. Other cars, like the Acura ZDX, gave the formula a shot but was met with a less enthusiastic welcome.
We decided to take a look at other vehicles that suffer from the same type of genre confusion. We can’t say they’re the sexiest vehicles on the road, or the most practical. But they are distinct and unusual in their own right, and for that we commend them. Here are seven of those vehicles.
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo seems to be the answer to the question that no one was really asking. Built on the normal 5 Series platform, the GT has a strange elevated rear with a hatchback-style trunk lid that makes for easier loading and unloading. While it may be more practical than the standard sedan, BMW felt there should be a genre-bending option between that and its family of SUVs. Hence, the 5 Series GT — which starts at a lofty $60,000 — was born, for better or for worse.
Convinced that there’s a segment of buyers who want an X6 that’s actually the size of the X3, BMW unveiled its X4 crossover utility coupe-type thing. Following in the same vein of BMW’s “Sports Activity Coupe” moniker, the X4 in theory offers the handling and crispness of a car with the cabin space of an X3-sized crossover. It’s been a part of BMW’s plan to fill every possible niche market, and apparently it’s been successful.
This is the beast that started it all, at least for the Bavarian automaker. It’s a similar concept as the X4, but is instead built on the X5 platform. It’s a larger, more cumbersome, and less sports-car like — but it’s done so well that BMW has not only been selling an M division version of it but is keen on expanding the coupe-UV formula to other vehicles. Rumor has it there’s even an X2 in the works.
Seeing the success that BMW was having with the X6 prompted Honda to develop the Crosstour, which is really closer to the 5 Series GT, as it’s based on the Accord sedan. It’s larger and more capable as far as cargo space is concerned, but its polarizing looks (especially in the back) have limited its widespread appeal. Its more expensive cousin, the Acura ZDX, struggled through a few years of production before ultimately calling it quits.
Essentially what Mini did with the Paceman was take its largest car, the Countryman, took off two doors, sloped the roof, and raked the back window a bit more. Why? In the name of quirkiness, of course! Mini is under BMW control, and as such, BMW has decided to bring the magic of its car-turned-SUV-type creations to its baby city car brand. Think of it as a larger Mini Hardtop: It shares the same driving dynamics as the smaller Minis but with more space, helping blur the lines between car and crossover.
If the Paceman is considered quirky, then the Nissan Juke is just totally out there. Its polarizing styling is a perfect illustration of Nissan’s willingness to take risks, and although it acts and is classified as a compact crossover, it behaves much like a car on the road in terms of dynamics. The versatility of the Juke combined with the maneuverability and agility of a small car is a good reason why the compact crossover segment is skyrocketing.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
This is possibly one of the most confused cars on the market. It’s an SUV, but with less cargo space and passenger room; it’s also a convertible that sits way higher and is large and less maneuverable than the cars on which most convertibles are based. Though it likely has its small legion of fans somewhere, the Murano CrossCabriolet wasn’t able to justify its genre-bending and it won’t be coming back after this model year.