Trucks and Crossovers are Not Just for Morons

Trucks (including crossovers and SUVs) will very likely surpass car sales this year. The "crossover" craze has been going on for about 10 years or so, but if you ask some people on the internet the vast majority of truck and crossover buyers are just "idiots who think they need something they don't." This superiority complex of, "I understand what is best better than you," is getting a bit tiring and it is time we lay it all out there.

I broker deals on vehicles all the time and crossovers are the most popular segment among my clients. I have put more clients in Subaru and Audi crossovers this year than anything else. I have also worked several deals on Grand Cherokees and Pilots. Why do my customers request these vehicles? I will tell you "safety" did not come up in the conversation. They wanted to transport people and stuff. I know that a minivan will objectively haul both better, but people also want to drive something that is enjoyable and stylish. Is that really so terrible? And as much as I would love people to drive more wagons, there are exactly zero wagons available under 45k that offer the same utility of a mid-size crossover. There are only a handful of wagons that rival the utility of compact crossovers, and more often than not the wagon is more expensive.

I also want to address the most common critique of- "People only buy SUVs because they think they are safer." While it is true that many car-buyers have been brainwashed into thinking that larger vehicles are "safer" and 4WD/AWD makes them invincible in bad weather, you are more likely to suffer less damage in a collision in a larger vehicle than in a smaller one. That is not stupidity it is physics. As to the 4WD/AWD invincibility thing, yes we all know that it is the tires that make the difference, but most people (outside of the snowbelt) are not going to run two sets of wheels for varying seasons. So all else being equal a 4WD vehicle with all-season tires is going to have better traction than a 2WD vehicle with all season tires. Will that truck/crossover stop sooner? No, because four-wheel-drive does not mean four-wheel-braking.

But what about all those people who buy pickups and don't "use" them? Just because a pickup is not currently towing a trailer or hauling a full load of plywood that doesn't mean the vehicle isn't being put to good use at some other time. People have a habit of making purchase for 5-10% of their vehicle needs but if once a month you need to haul or tow something and you happen to like pickups, I don't really see the problem.

Let's take a closer look at this need metric. If people only bought cars based on their actual needs than the the number of beige and boring cars would be vastly more than it is now. Does anyone need a 400+ hp Mustang, or a 500hp German sport-sedan or even a 270hp V6 in their Accord? And no one needs car car that can pull 1g on the skid-pad or can lap the Ring in under 8 minutes. People buy what they like, vehicle purchases are made by a combination of needs and wants. I realize this is the internet, making us all experts on what other people should do and passing judgement on someone else's choices makes us feel better. But all someone did was buy a car, or a truck, or an SUV...is it really that big a deal?

@AutomatchTom is a professional car buying consultant, lover of all things automotive and a bit wagon obsessed. You can find more ramblings and plenty of carporn here.