As a family 'wagon' the crossover allows some big bonuses Remember way, way back when people still bought station wagons? When four-wheel drives were juggernauts driven by people who had more than one coloured Swannie and had different gumboots for every day of the week? Those days - aside from a few ever-popular models - seem to have disappeared. This week, Driven deputy editor Liz Dobson braved the crazy roads of Goa, India, to attend the launch of yet another Ford crossover SUV, hot on the heels of the Kuga and a junior stablemate to the Territory.
The clue to this shift towards smaller SUVs as part of a wider crossover range is in the word "utility". These machines are incredibly useful. Sure, they're far less likely to go off-road than most that have come before them, and many are only sold as two-wheel-drives. But when you look at the surrounds of our biggest city, and the opportunities to get out and explore, their potential becomes obvious. As a family "wagon" the crossover allows some big bonuses like easy access, a nice high seating position that gives a good field of vision when braving school pick-ups and, in an ever-increasing number of cases, an extra row of seats.
I'm more of a car fan than one of SUVs, but when I find myself with one parked in the driveway I often end up using them for the intended purpose - getting out and doing stuff. The point of a two-wheel-drive crossover is lost on me - but not the large numbers of willing buyers out there. But head bush during winter and you're just as likely to find yourself stuck as you would be in a car should your ambition outstrip available traction.
The days when these machines were considered urban assault vehicles and their owners often labelled with the English translation of that SUV pioneer "Pajero" are most certainly over, and while those fellas in their Swanndris aren't the target market any more, there are some capable off-road machines that are refined enough to be driven in Parnell or in WopWop nowhere.
What do you think of the proliferation of soft-roaders?