Has anyone else noticed that we are neck deep in lifted, four door, wannabe suv cars all of the sudden? What is with all these quasi-SUV hatchback cars? It seemed to start with the SUV based X6 in 2008. BMW took the perfectly good X5 and made it less useful. It had its roof hacked off in the back and lost some of its handsome looks to this strange, new shape. The X6 has a much smaller back seat and storage area, has fewer options in the US (no diesel), and costs more. I guess you really need to be buying solely on looks to want one of these.
Next came the Hondas. The Accord Crosstour (which I have mentioned before as being a guilty pleasure of mine) and the Acura ZDX showed up in 2009. The Crosstour added a bit more utility to the regular Accord line and the availability of AWD. This makes sense to me. The Acura, on the other hand, took the already great MDX crossover and gave it an X6 treatment. It was hacked and tucked to look like a fat guy in a compression suit. One big thing that pissed me off with the ZDX is that fancy treatment cutting the towing capacity by 3500 lbs. 3500!!! So I pay more for a silly looking hatch-wagon-SUV thing and it can only tow 1500 lbs? What a piece!
Continuing the trend, BMW comes back to the plate. They seem to have sold enough X6s to make some other weird, frumpy looking cars. This time the gang in Bavaria are basing them on the 3 and 5 series. It is an additional trim level (vs the all new model above) called the Gran Turismo. That means Grand Touring in Italian, not Japanese racing video game. I guess BMW thought that their customers were craving something with more utility than the sedan without the dork factor of the wagon. I sincerely believe that failed. The GT series cars are about as dorky looking as they come. They offer a fair amount of utility over the sedan but are compromised next to the wagons. We only get the 3 series wagon at the moment but BMW was already making a 5 series wagon!! I realize that Americans don’t buy wagons, and that is sad. This doesn’t mean that we are going to buy this weird pseudo-wagon. Initial sales figures in the US back this up. However, the GTs are still for sale and I can’t find any sales figures for the last few years. Maybe there are people out there that are willing to pay extra for this weird shape?
The next gen of these strange crossover-crossovers is coming out soon with the BMW X4 and the Mercedes GLE Coupe. These are both based on their similarly sized SUV stable mates and will probably offer similar utility compromises for vanity as their predecessors. I suspect that to a lot of people this is like wearing Spanx. You like the way they make you look, but you really have to cram to get all your stuff inside them.