Hooniverse Asks: Is it wrong to love a modern CUV?

Many enthusiasts love to hate modern cross-over sport utility vehicles. The say that they’re slow, handle poorly, and lack steering feel. They also say that they’re not any safer than typical car, and that ride height and all-wheel-drive systems provide a false sense of security to the driver. They keep going, saying that the higher ride height and increased mass reduces fuel economy. Further, those horrible CUVs can’t tow or carry much more than [insert favorite brown wagon with manual transmission]. Listening to those reasons could almost convince someone to buy a car, except that everyone is buying CUVs and cars are sitting on dealer lots with hefty discounts.

But there are some CUVs that even enthusiasts like. The Mazda CX-5 often comes up as a conclusion to “I hate CUVs but if I had to get one I’d get…” Which is a hypocritical statement if there ever was one.

Today I stand before you telling you that I do like many CUVs, despite their many unfavorable attributes. To be honest, and I feel kind of weird saying this, as if I’m revealing some weird fetish that most people would embarrassed by, at my age I feel confident enough to expose my appreciation for CUVs on this here Hooning website, without fear of retaliation. And I’m #proud-ish of it and #brave. And I hope others can admit what they feel the same inside and join me.

One CUV that I really like, significantly more than the Mzda CX-5 which I feel is kind of over-hyped in the if I had to get one I’d get… class, is the Acura RDX. Honda’s 2.0-liter turbo engine, similar to the one used in the Civic Type R, also available in the Accord, is a gem. It’s perfectly matched up to the nine-speed automatic transmission. The RDX kind of hauls ass, as far as CUVs are concerned. It handles pretty well and it looks good, too. The interior has a few issues, such as the infotainment system and the shifter, but it is also big enough to carry all the stuff and people that I do. Overall I like it so much that I would totally get one. Having checked some lease offers, this thing is a bang for the buck. I could totally live with one for 36 months and 36,000 miles. I think.

The truth is that modern CUVs are really damn good. They are faster than my sports cars from not long ago, they are roomy and comfortable, and practical, too. And yes, they even get great gas mileage. The only thing not too like about them is the fact that so many people don’t think they’re cool. Those people probably buy used wagons they couldn’t afford new, Jeeps, or pickup trucks… which are [sarcasm font] just so much cooler.

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18 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Is it wrong to love a modern CUV?”

  1. Lokki Avatar
  2. Maymar Avatar

    If I’m going to drive a lardy dorkmobile, it’s gonna be a minivan for max practicality. They can pry sliding doors from my cold dead hands.

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      Honestly, this would be my answer as well. While I don’t hate most CUVs, I find most of them unattractive and I see no real reason or desire for AWD. If I was in the market for a roomy family vehicle, I’d rather go for a minivan.

  3. outback_ute Avatar

    With how capable cars are now I don’t think there is a great drawback for a crossover, and I regard ground clearance as a good thing.

    Infinitis are probably a good value here since they have really struggled to establish themselves, and the rwd based platform should be a bonus.

    One I have driven is the Ford Territory, which was very enjoyable to take on Bells Line of Road through the Blue Mountains into Sydney, regarded as one of the great drivers roads. The steering is fantastic, very sharp and good feedback; much better than the Falcons of the time – later models changed to a similar geometry (front mounted rack and split lower wishbone).

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Are you wrong to like a modern CUV? Yes. Are you wrong to acquiesce to their versatility? No.

    I’m fortunate enough to be able to have multiple vehicles for multiple purposes, but for an only car, a CUV makes a lot of sense. I would never consider one to replace any of my vehicles, but I would have to consider one if I were looking to replace them all.

  5. Lokki Avatar
  6. GTXcellent Avatar

    I’ve been saying this for years now – that I don’t get the hate and vitriol for CUVs.
    Where I live, we have snow for half the year, then mud, then 3 months or so of nice weather – it absolutely makes a TON of sense to have a vehicle with AWD/4 wheel drive. Most have plenty of headroom, plenty of elbow room, and they great respectable mileage. For those folks who view vehicles as transportation (and not the kick-ass freedom machines they really are) they absolutely make the most sense. They may make compromises, but deliver on the total package.

    (disclosure – our household has never owned a CUV, and in all likelihood, probably never will)

    1. caltemus Avatar

      Many CUVs don’t have AWD, and many that do have a very limited transfer-on-slip method of sending power to the rear wheels. Snow tires will always be better than AWD for snowy climates.

      1. GTXcellent Avatar

        Snow tires mean nothing when you’re trying to bust through 2 foot high snow drifts – you have to have some ground clearance (believe me, coming from a former owner of a 9-3 Aero with snow tires) and snow tires cannot be used during “mud” season from mid-March through May.

        As a do-everything-ok vehicle, an AWD CUV makes a helluva lot of sense here.

      2. GTXcellent Avatar

        Snow tires mean nothing when you’re trying to bust through 2 foot high snow drifts – you have to have some ground clearance (believe me, coming from a former owner of a 9-3 Aero with snow tires) and snow tires cannot be used during “mud” season from mid-March through May.

        As a do-everything-ok vehicle, an AWD CUV makes a helluva lot of sense here.

  7. 0A5599 Avatar

    Do you mean love, love, or just love?

    My Typhoon comes pretty close to being a CUV in terms of “truck” things. AWD but doesn’t off-road. Good interior space in a compact package. Low to the ground. Other than BOF construction, it checked all the CUV boxes.

    I could live with a modern version, even if unibodied.

  8. nanoop Avatar

    Yes, it is wrong to love a CUV. Try focusing your affections on people, especially when they say that you are in a relationship with them.

  9. caltemus Avatar

    Need a car? Get a sedan, need more space, get a hatchback of a similar size. Going up in required space, sedan > hatchback > wagon > minivan. Anything between wagon and minivan is a compromise of efficiency for fashion. An Odyssey will always be a more efficient ratio of footprint:cargo space than the equivalent Pilot. I wonder if the RDX has more cargo space than the late TSX sportback (second gen). It’ll always be less space than a Volvo 240

    P.S. Does a crossover exist that you can actually see out the back of? Seems like they all have massive D pillars.

  10. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I have a CUV out of necessity rather than desire but I’ve grown to appreciate its good qualities even when I complain about its lousy packaging. Full disclosure, I drive a 2016 Mazda CX-5 which was leased to replace a totaled Mazda5 and a Saturn with a blown transaxle. Had it been possible to get another Mazda5 quickly and cheaply we would have resisted the bells and whistles and the all wheel drive.

  11. ptschett Avatar

    …and now I’m thinking back to doing Bible study in the New Testament epistles, and analyzing which of the Greek words that meant a particular kind of love was behind the word rendered as our all-purpose English “love”. (Eros or agape toward a CUV would just be weird.)

    I see CUVs as an extension of the hatchback/wagon automotive realm, which never created much passion for me one way or the other. I remember thinking the original RAV4 was a neat idea when it came out a quarter of a century ago. If I had to have a single vehicle for all my driving and for some reason it couldn’t be a BoF pickup, some AWD CUVs would be high on the list, as they make a lot of sense for my primary vehicular uses and my climate. In the end I’m with Patrick George at [redacted]: I blame Harley Earl.

    Somewhat unrelated (but brought to mind by the word “love” in an automotive context):

  12. Zentropy Avatar

    I’ve honestly never owned one, unless you count the AMC Eagle SX/4. It fit the definition even before the word was defined. I genuinely liked that car.

    My wife has had two and probably will always drive a crossover. I don’t expressly hate them, I just don’t understand their relevance. Wagons drive better with comparable space, minivans ride as good or better with considerably more space, and true SUVs can generally tow more and tackle rougher terrain. So CUVs aren’t really stellar at anything, which is really nothing worth celebrating. No hate, just no enthusiasm. (I do generally dislike front-wheel-drive, though, and most CUVs are on transverse FWD platforms.)

    My dad feels that CUVs are easier to get into and out of now that he’s older and less agile, so I suppose I might find them appealing in 30 years or so. Until then, there are just more interesting vehicles out there.

  13. Tiller188 Avatar

    “The Mazda CX-5 often comes up as a conclusion to “I hate CUVs but if I had to get one I’d get…” Which is a hypocritical statement if there ever was one.”

    Eh, I have to disagree on that point. I don’t have any particular hatred towards CUVs, but for any who do, I don’t see anything terribly hypocritical in identifying the least-bad option in a group of generally-bad choices.

  14. Sjalabais Avatar

    As I said before, the “remember the gold old days of the CUV”-generation will appear whenever the next car-shape-fad pops up – or when Skynet decides humans are not fit for automobility. It happened with wagons, it’s been going on with minivans for a while now, it will catch up with CUVs. Nostalgia trumps everything else, with time.