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When looking at a crossover vehicle, it might be hard to tell exactly what makes it special. Basically, crossovers evolved to bridge the gap between cars and sport utility vehicles, and they exploded in popularity when people finally admitted they weren’t using their SUVs to their potential. A crossover is essentially a car-based vehicle that combines some characteristics of sport utility vehicles (like aesthetics and cargo space) with features of passenger vehicles (like station wagon or minivan style seating configurations). Since crossovers have enjoyed such a boom in popularity in recent years, automakers have flooded the market with new and upgraded crossover models. The crossover category has drawn in plenty of converts and new customers: young, active families who aren’t thrilled about the perceived stodginess of wagons and vans; former sport utility vehicle drivers who were tired of paying for gas for power they didn’t need; and people who might have been drawn to the aesthetics of a sport utility vehicle, but couldn’t afford it or didn’t need it. Crossovers, in short, meet the needs of a lot of different demographics with their flexibility, versatility, and athletic good looks.

Most crossovers are designed to undercut sport utility vehicles in price, but that still doesn’t mean they’re inexpensive. The good news is that the ongoing and increasing popularity of crossovers means good things for potential buyers who, for whatever reason, prefer to buy used. As new crossovers hit dealer lots, a lot of used crossovers hit the market because their owners trade them in or sell them privately so they can upgrade. As long as consumers shop carefully, they can find good deals on late model used crossover SUVs. The category is defined so loosely that potential buyers need to be careful when they’re shopping, so they don’t expect a feature they’re not getting (not all crossovers have all-wheel-drive capability, for example). But careful research when shopping for a used crossover will be time well spent.