They are so popular they are changing the automotive world - but in New Zealand will nearly half of all passenger cars on the road be crossovers or SUVs, as expected in the US, by 2021?
That's the scenario painted by IHS Automotive, a US industry analytical firm, who predicted crossovers and SUVs would grow to nearly 43 per cent of the US market by 2021 while passenger cars would fall to 33 per cent (in 2016, cars were 36 per cent of the market; crossovers and SUVs 40 per cent).
In New Zealand, the current picture is strikingly similar. In 2012, SUVs (measured as compact, medium and large vehicles) took 26 per cent of the market, growing steadily until, like the US, they represented 36 per cent market share last year.
David Crawford, chief executive of the New Zealand Motor Industry Association said last month that registrations of SUVs remained strong in August - up 7.5 per cent in the year to date over the previous year - while passenger vehicle registrations (SUVs plus passenger cars) were down 3.2 per cent overall.
So why are SUVs and crossovers so popular?
All you have to do to answer that question is to look at one of the latest medium SUVs on the market - Honda's new CR-V.
This new model of one of the pioneer marques in the evolution of SUVs is hitting the market now with a turbocharged powertrain, top-end technology - and an interior which can accommodate up to 7 people and converts into a storage space which almost seems capable of carrying a fridge, washing machine and dryer at the same time.
There you have the universal appeal of modern SUVs - it looks like an SUV but drives like a car; it is an ideal family vehicle - but has plenty of grunt - and it can double as a willing workhorse, but with thoroughbred technology. Finally, the sense of off-road adventure that old SUVs promised can still be enjoyed, especially if an all-wheel drive option is purchased.
Nadine Bell, General Manager Marketing, Honda New Zealand, says some of the attributes of the new CR-V appeal to some very basic human instincts on the road: "Safety is a big one - the CR-V offers a high riding position; people feel more comfortable having better vision.
"Then there's convenience - you can load your CR-V up with kids, adults and break down the seats and carry a huge amount in the back. The cabin space and luggage space in the new CR-V are best in class - it has the biggest storage space plus a one-action dive-down of the seats and a power tailgate that makes loading easy."
But let's not forget comfort, performance and technology - the big difference between the old, truck-like SUVs and the modern form.
The new CR-V has its first turbocharged engine, a 1.5L powertrain which gives added torque (including pulling power). The latest in vehicle connectivity includes a 7-inch touch screen, a built-in Garmin GPS and an advanced audio interface which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android auto platforms and voice control search functions.
Talking safety again, the technology in the new CR-V offers the following systems among others: Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist - all designed to keep driver and family safe.
"Fuel efficiency is also a big plus," says Bell. "The CR-V 2-wheel drive and all-wheel drive uses only 7.3L per 100km and 7.4L per 100km respectively."
That is light years away from the old gas-guzzling SUVs, which were mostly designed on truck chassis - and looked like it.
"People have voted with their feet," says Bell. "The CR-V is so much more comfortable to drive and better designed than the old SUVs; it offers not only that huge flexibility as a vehicle but also easy practicality - it is easy to park, for example, and yet you can have all the adventure you crave."
Nor is the medium SUV trend likely to slow soon. Last year in the US, Porsche - a celebrated sports car marque - sold twice as many crossover SUVs as sports models. Many other luxury marques have also seen a falling percentage of car sales as opposed to their SUVs.
Bell says the CR-V comes in at a price level well under the luxury brands - but still offers performance, safety and flexibility.
"It's not possible to know if the SUVs and medium SUVs will boost the segment up to and over 50 per cent in New Zealand," says Bell. "All I can tell you is that the things people like about the CR-V and SUVs in general won't be going away. Far from it."