Skip to main content

Some people might shy away from a certain crossover because they seem a little soft around the edges. There are cars, trucks, or SUV models that are marketed more toward one demographic than another. For example, a big black Ram 1500 pickup truck definitely appeals to those seeking something with a bit more of an aggressive aesthetic. A red mini a red Mini Cooper on the other hand, isn’t trying to boast a heavy payload or look tough.

2020 RAM 1500 truck is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The 2020 Ram 1500 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

So can crossovers still look aggressive? Yes, of course. Especially when you realize that a crossover is anything built on a unibody frame with a more SUV-oriented body style. The thing is, just because you prefer a more rugged exterior style doesn’t necessarily mean you are limited to buying a truck.

A chrome 2021 new Kia Telluride navigating in water.
2021 Kia Telluride | Kia

No matter what aesthetic appeal people associate a certain vehicle with, each model still draws buyers from each side of the spectrum. Is the new Kia Telluride rugged? Most would probably agree that it is. And in spite of its rugged looks, the Kia Telluride is in fact a crossover.

Crossover or SUV?

There are some SUVs out there that are actually crossovers. For a vehicle to technically classify as an SUV it has to be a body-on-frame construction. Think Toyota 4Runner vs. Toyota Highlander ––similar size; different construction and capability. According to U.S. News and World Report, “simply put, if a vehicle is based on a truck’s platform it’s an SUV, and if it is based on a car’s platform, it’s a crossover.”

A silver 2021 Toyota 4Runner driving on rugged terrain
The 2021 Toyota 4Runner driving off-road | Photo via Toyota

So, because the new Kia Telluride shares underpinnings with related models like the Kia Sorento and the Kia K5, it’s technically a crossover. The crossover movement has allowed larger vehicles with SUV styling to use less fuel and ride smoother. They do lose some of their capability. However, for most the sacrifice is worth it.

What SUVs are actually crossovers?

One of the first obvious answers to this question is the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Palisade, and Hyundai Santa Fe. These are all based on the same platform as the new Kia Telluride. While both the Palisade and Telluride are often called midsize SUVs, they are crossovers. The Toyota Highlander and Honda CR-V are also crossovers.

The Toyota RAV4, which was actually the first mainstream crossover ever, is amrketed as a compact SUV. So some of the family crossovers like the Honda CR-V or the Hyundai Tuscon are predominately marketed as small or compact SUVs rather than crossovers. That’s because crossovers can actually take on a more aggressive style, and sometimes calling something a crossover instead of an SUV can take away from a marketing campaign that is trying to frame something in a more rugged light.

Do crossovers actually compare to more aggressive trucks?

The tough, rough and tumble Toyota Tacoma pickup truck is one of the more aggressive smaller trucks on the market. Crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 and the all-new Kia Sorento are leaning toward a more aggressive exterior style. But in terms of sheer rugged capability, the Toyota Tacoma outshines any crossover. Period.

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro truck in the snow isn't exactly the stereotypic image of a girly vehicle.
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

Moreover, the rugged adventurous look that many crossover SUVs have adopted lately demonstrates that people like a well-rounded and versatile vehicle that gives them the best of both worlds. In fact, it seems that vehicles are more marketed toward certain types of people with a wide range of needs. There’s a definite appeal in a crossover that looks like a rugged SUV, offers a smooth ride, and finds a middle ground in terms of capability.

A silver 2021 Toyota RAV4 driving on a highway road
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 in action | Toyota

Still aggressive?

Crossovers are not tough, truck-like SUVs. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still boast aggressive styling cues. They are versatile and there is a huge spread of options for consumers to choose from. Car buying comes down to what buyers need and how much they want to spend. These days, there are plenty of rugged-looking options––even in the crossover segment.


Michael Dietrich Says Downtime on Naked and Afraid Led Him to Live in a Camper Van