Arguably, the first crossover SUV to go on sale in America was the Subaru 4WD station wagon. It arrived in the mid-1970s with a raised suspension and 4-wheel drive, a car with extra cargo capacity, greater utility, and the ability to travel off the pavement and through blizzards with relative ease. It rusted if you spilled water on it, but otherwise it was a trusty, if quirky, companion.
Fittingly, then, it was Subaru that revived its original crossover recipe for the 1996 model year, debuting the Legacy-based Outback wagon with a raised suspension and 4-wheel drive. The Outback arrived at the same time as the original Toyota RAV4, and together these two models kicked off a trend that today dominates consumer preferences in the U.S. market.
Decades after these pioneers arrived, Americans can pick and choose from tiny crossovers like the Mazda CX-3 to huge ones like the Buick Enclave. They all have these things in common, though: available all-wheel drive, extra cargo capacity and utility, and driving dynamics more akin to a car than a truck.
The most popular crossover segment, however, is the compact class. Most of the models in the compact crossover segment possess an irresistible blend of affordability, efficiency, safety, comfort, and cargo space. You can get them cheap with little equipment, or you can load them up with luxury features. Truly, there is something for everyone in the compact crossover class.
Here, we’ve selected eight that perform specific jobs exceptionally well, and listed them in alphabetical order by make.