The EPA states that a vehicle with more than 130 cubic feet of storage and less than an 8,500 pound gross weight is considered a station wagon. According to this classification, most crossovers qualify as station wagons.

Crossovers can be traced back to the 1950s. The Soviet Maskovitch 410 is considered the first crossover automobile. The French Matra-Simca Rancho, introduced in 1977, was one of the first crossovers. Today there are many other crossovers on the road, helping it to become one of the fastest-growing automotive segments.

Between the years 2003 and 2005, crossover SUV sales increased by 30 percent. Nearly every vehicle manufacturer now offers a crossover model, noting that such vehicles are designed to blend the best offerings of SUVs and cars into one. Similar to cars, crossovers have a lower center of gravity to offer stability and responsiveness.

The lighter weight of the crossover makes it more nimble on roadways than a traditional SUV. Unlike cars, the increased cargo and passenger space commonly found in crossovers enables the transport of more people and items. Many crossovers are on par with cars in terms of fuel efficiency, getting more miles per gallon than trucks. However, crossovers will not compare to SUVs in towing ability. While SUVs may be capable of off-roading, crossovers generally do not handle well off-road.

Manufacturers may refer to crossovers as CUVs, or crossover utility vehicles, to further link them to larger trucks. But many consumers confuse crossovers with traditional SUVs and with good reason, as many SUVs billed as compact SUVs are really crossovers. The lines between the two types of vehicles are frequently blurred and differ from brand to brand. Examples of crossovers include the Audi Q3, the Ford Edge, the Honda Crosstour, and the Toyota Venza.

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