Friday, October 24, 2014

The Subcompact Crossover Segment Heating Up

2015 Honda HR-V
The 2015 Honda HR-V will be based on the Honda Fit chassis.
For years we've been told Americans don't like small cars and they don't like hatchbacks. We do know they like all-wheel/four-wheel drive and crossovers, however. So what happens when manufacturers take small hatchbacks, give them AWD, and call them a crossover? You get the quickly growing subcompact crossover segment.

This isn't the first time small 4WD vehicles have been sold in the U.S., however. The 1980s offered vehicles such as the Dodge Colt Vista, the 4WD Toyota Tercel, the Nissan Stanza Wagon, and of course, the Subaru Justy. In the 1990s we saw the Mitsubishi Expo LRV/Eagle Summit Wagon/Plymouth Colt Vista trio and the Nissan Axxes. Things became more mainstream with the advent of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and the Subaru Impreza. Over the years, many of these vehicles got bigger, heavier, and their personality changed. It wasn't until 2007 when Suzuki came out with the SX4 that the subcompact crossover segment reappeared on buyers' radar—although not many buyers opted for the Suzuki, and the entire brand—SX4 and all—left the U.S. market in 2013.

Chevrolet Trax
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is based on the Chevrolet Sonic platform.
Now, the small AWD car market is beginning to really heat up and many automakers are offering (or will be offering) small hatchbacks with AWD as an option. This includes:

• Buick Encore
Chevrolet Trax
• Fiat 500X
• Honda HR-V
Jeep Renegade
• MINI Countryman ALL4
Nissan Juke

Allegedly, Mazda will debut a CX-3 in the not-so-distance future; there are rumblings of a small, AWD Hyundai (iX25?); and chatter that Kia's Soul will soon be able to turn all of its wheels.

I'm excited that this segment is getting bigger. We loved the size of our 2010 and 2011 Suzuki SX4; it was that just-right size, and the fact that we could get it with AWD and a manual transmission was icing on the cake. Hopefully this latest crop of vehicles will at least have a shift-it-yourself option. Regardless, this segment is definitely on the rise, and I would expect other manufacturers to hop on on this subcompact bandwagon as well.

Fiat 500X
The upcoming Fiat 500X


murphyseanm said...

I really wanted the Juke when I was looking for a new vehicle last time but my wife just hates the styling. I am happy to see the segment grow, even Mercedes Benz has the GLA now which is just about the same size category. I think in about 3 years everyone will have a Sub Compact CUV with AWD.

Anonymous said...

The SX-4 is inferior in cargo capacity compare to the Aerio hacthback that it replace .