Crossovers are one of the few automotive genres where designers are given almost free reign as long as they satisfy the required passenger capacity and cargo space criteria for the particular class that is being targeted. This state of affairs has given rise to some seriously unusual-looking crossover vehicles, ranging from ostentatious high end luxury models down to more affordable vehicles that attempt to draw attention via their non-standard looks.
Weird can be wonderful, and in the case of crossovers, it can also be practical. Let's take a look at 10 crossover vehicles that edge closer to the strange side of the ledger when it comes to styling.
01. 2012 BMW X6
The 2012 BMW X6 is the perfect example of what can happen when the crossover "coupe" concept is stretched across a full-size platform. Mechanically identical to the popular BMW X5, the BMW X6 offers standard four-passenger seating, four-door access to its cabin, and a plunging rear roofline and rising beltline that work together to create the illusion of a true coupe. Combined with the X6's extremely brawny haunches, the result is a vehicle that resembles no other on the luxury crossover market. Most of the buyers who opt for the BMW X6 can overlook its smaller-than-average cargo space and appreciate the fact that its unique design will be a conversation starter at the local country club.
02. 2012 Lincoln MKT
The 2012 Lincoln MKT is another full-size crossover that typically provokes a strong reaction from potential buyers based on its looks alone. The Lincoln MKT's most prominent feature is its enormous, toothy front grille, a dual-panel design that some find intimidating and others consider endearing. Spinning around to the rear reveals a more conventional crossover hatch opening, bisected by a broad rear light panel that contains the turn signals, tail lights and parking lights for the automobile. Many journalists have labeled it the first wagon ever built by Lincoln, but with seven passenger seating and 76 cubic feet of cargo space there's no denying the MKT's crossover leanings.
03. 2012 Acura ZDX
The 2012 Acura ZDX is another luxury crossover coupe, only this time the automaker has elected to keep things reasonable small. The four-door Acura ZDX is marketed as a compact coupe that just happens to have the increased ride height and available all-wheel drive of a crossover, and like the X6 it boasts a dramatically-angled roofline to go with small back windows and a prominent rump. The ZDX is instantly recognizable as an Acura thanks to its large shield-like front grille, and inside it features the 2+2 seating arrangement that has become so popular in the four-door coupe segment. Rear passenger room suffers somewhat thanks to the low roof, and cargo space is also restricted to just 56 cubic feet with the second row folded forward.
04. 2012 Subaru Tribeca
The 2012 Subaru Tribeca is almost the forgotten member of Subaru's crossover-laden lineup, a large people mover that can handle up to seven passengers across three rows of seating as well as swallow 74.4 cubic feet of space. The Subaru Tribeca doesn't really look all that out of place anymore thanks to some tasteful cosmetic surgery in recent years, but it suffers somewhat from the memory of its debut when its front fascia featured an unusual snout that didn't really fit in with the rest of the brand's styling language. Nowadays, given the lack of advertising hype surrounding the Tribeca most of the surprise it generates comes from the fact that people generally don't know that Subaru builds and sells such a big vehicle.
05. 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is a virtual carbon copy of the extremely popular Jeep Wrangler with one very important exception: it offers four doors, instead of two. This means that the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited presents a stretched profile when compared to the regular Wrangler that initially throws some people off when encountering the vehicle for the first time. That longer body brings a heaping helping of increased practicality to the equation, including much easier access to the Jeep's rear quarters, three passenger capability in the back seat, and a hefty 86 cubic feet of total cargo space. And hey - the Wrangler Unlimited is still a convertible, just like the two-door model.
06. 2011 Honda Element
The 2011 Honda Element was conceived during the height of the 'small box' compact crossover craze, and the vehicle's rounded, cube-like designed cultivated a cult-like following amongst buyers who wanted to stand out from the crowd. The Honda Element might look quirky, but it's important to remember that a boxy shape is more than just a styling statement - it's also one of the most practical arrangements for moving cargo from point A to point B. The Element's uncommon rear-hinged doors offer exceptional access to the vehicle's 75 cubic feet of interior space and help to make the crossover a favorite amongst pet owners who appreciate how easy it is to get Rover to jump up inside - and how simple-to-clean the Honda's interior trim is, too.
07. 2012 Ford Flex
The 2012 Ford Flex is the platform-mate of the Lincoln MKT, but it bears its own unique styling that couldn't be any more different when comparing the two vehicles side by side. By channeling the spirit of the early 60's surf wagons Ford's design team managed to produce a distinctive take on the crossover concept that is neither wagon nor SUV but something that truly lies in between. A long, flat roof, slab sides, seven passenger seating, and driving dynamics that are impressive when ordered in EcoBoost trim help the Ford Flex appeal to sedan owners who need the extra 83 cubic feet of total storage space that it has to offer.
08. 2012 Honda Crosstour
The 2012 Honda Crosstour is a crossover based on the automaker's popular Accord sedan, but you wouldn't necessarily be able to glean that information by looking at the vehicle. The mid-size Honda Crosstour is truly one-of-a-kind, a vehicle whose jutting, Accord-inspired front fascia is balanced out by an almost cantilevered rear cargo area. Yes, the Crosstour offers more interior space for hauling gear than a regular Accord sedan, but passenger room is almost identical, leading some to speculate that the Crosstour was an attempt at building Accord wagon that was instead rebranded as its own model in an effort to lure crossover-hungry shoppers into showrooms.
09. 2012 Nissan Cube
If you couldn't tell by the name alone, the 2012 Nissan cube makes no bones about its straight-up-and-down, right-angle styling cues. The compact Nissan Cube crossover certainly sticks out due to the collection of rectangles and squares that make up its grille, doors, and greenhouse, but that's not the most interesting aspect of its looks. The vehicle also sports a transparent right-rear roof post that not only makes a visual statement but also improves visibility for the driver when backing up. The Cube illustrates that good things can happen when vehicles designed for the Japanese domestic market are imported to the United States and given a chance to find their niche.
10. 2012 MINI Countryman
The 2012 MINI Countryman is another compact crossover that catches its fair share of second glances due to a proportional disconnect. The MINI Countryman is for all intents and purposes a MINI Cooper hatchback that has been blown up, stretched out, and given a second set of doors. Roomier than the original MINI hatch, and riding taller to satisfy those who must drive down snowy roads in the winter time, the MINI Countryman looks like a MINI that's been hitting the gym hard on nights and weekends. Is a muscular MINI a contradiction in terms? Not according to the strong sales enjoyed by this crossover interpretation.
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