Sedan or Crossover: Which is Right For You?
We are entering the age of the crossover, or so it seems. The once-novel vehicle has become the default category of vehicle that many families investigate first when it’s time to find a new car for hauling the tribe. Although crossovers enjoy some distinct advantages over sedans, they are not without their disadvantages. Coupled with that is the fact the sedan has been taking care of business on the roads for millions of drivers since day one. This should give any prospective buyer a moment of pause, in which he or she should ask: “Sedan or crossover, which one is right for me?”
When it comes to getting the most distance out of every drop of gasoline, a sedan will always come in ahead of a crossover with an equivalently powerful motor. This is due to the very things that make a crossover stand out. Its raised ride height translates into more aerodynamic resistance at speed. Its larger body and increased interior space come at a cost of increased weight, which in turns cuts into efficiency. A sedan’s comparative sleekness and lighter weight allow it a reduced workload at any given speed.
If it is copious cargo space that tops the list of features your next ride should include, then a crossover may very well suit the bill. These larger, boxier vehicles excel at providing owners with room to haul all manner of bulky items or even small teams when the event arises. Many crossovers feature innovative seat folding, allowing the interior to transform into something resembling a cargo van with a few origami folds of the seating. A sedan is a bit more limited in this regard, though pass-through seating and large trunks mean they don’t cede this ground without a fight.
If you have ever witnessed race cars on a track, then you may have noticed a scarcity of lift kits on the vehicles. This is because a tall ride height is essentially a detuning of the vehicle’s handling characteristics. A crossover has a higher center of gravity than a comparable sedan, which translates into more dynamic forces at play during a maneuver.
A sedan is able to handle more G loading before it rolls or loses control than a crossover. Stability and traction controls and other electronic babysitters do much to level the playing field, but at the end of the day, a vehicle with a heavier weight that’s higher off the ground will always suffer in terms of handling when compared to a vehicle that is low slung and lighter.
Need to make banzai runs down a desert track before the big off-road rally? No? Then you may have to ask yourself if you really need the extra capabilities a four-wheel drive system provides. Although there are sedans out there with all-wheel drive, most run either front- or rear-wheel setups, whereas a crossover almost exists to sport this extra capability.
If you live in an area with significant snowfall, need room for seven people, or other mitigating factors, an AWD crossover may be needed. If it is just a matter of following a trend, think twice, and consider the virtues of the tried and true sedan.
Image via Chrysler.com