The best crossovers combine top family car practicality and rugged off-road looks. They allow buyers to tap into the tough image of an SUV without the costs involved, as most crossovers are available with front-wheel drive. In fact, for many, four-wheel drive is an option only on high-spec versions – so off-road ability is almost an afterthought.
The focus instead is on practicality and efficiency. Crossovers are often based on superminis or small family cars, but have slightly bigger dimensions and provide more interior space. Plus, due to their raised off-road stance, they're easier to get into and out of, and their boots are easier to load luggage into. This is key to the appeal of a crossover, although the sizes of these cars vary wildly, so take a test drive and make sure you're happy with the amount of space on offer before you commit to buy.
Don't be swayed by the appeal of four-wheel drive if you don't really need it, either. A front-wheel-drive crossover will be much lighter and more efficient, so unless you live in a rural location and regularly face challenging terrain, it's likely to be the better option. Even if you're cut off by snow a few times a year, it can work out more economical to simply fit a set of winter tyres during the worst of the weather than shell out for extra fuel all year round.
That choice of fuel is also crucial. While many buyers automatically plump for diesel, petrol crossovers are becoming increasingly efficient, and as they're cheaper to buy, they can work out better value unless you cover a high mileage. But no matter what you choose, the high driving position and great visibility a crossover provides mean this market will continue to enjoy a sales boom.