I’m old enough to remember when the word “minivan” didn’t exist, when American *moms drove carpools and kids to piano lessons in sedans and station wagons. Styles, tastes, and social conventions change, though. Over the decades we saw how Chrysler’s introduction of the front-wheel drive minivan, CAFE standards that favored light trucks, and women discovering that they liked sitting up high in traffic, have changed the American families’ fleet.
Due, in no small part, to consumers’ zeal to keep their mommymobiles from having the stigma of mommymobiles, we’ve seen the family “car” go from wagon, to minivan, to truck-based SUVs (which, much to those consumers’ dismay actually rode like trucks), to high-waisted passenger-car based crossovers. It’s not just the American fleet, either. CUVs are popular worldwide.
Unlike my friend Jack, I have no particular ire for crossovers. I drive a small car and from my perspective, literally, CUVs have about the same profile, size, and bulk as the midsize SUVs and full-scale minivans that preceded them. People buy or lease the vehicles that meet most of their needs most of the time and today’s drivers think that crossovers fit that description.
Still, change is a constant. I was going to say that somewhere, there is a warehouse full of elephant-leg bell-bottom jeans, but in searching for an image to link to in case some of you youngins don’t know what they look like I discovered that they have come back into style. Hopefully, the multi-color polyester plaids from the ’70s will stay unfashionable. Showing up at your kid’s school in a Honda CR-V or at your club in a Cayenne is fashionable today, but as Tower of Power taught us, what is hip today might become passe, and unlike bell-bottoms, 1960s station wagons will not become stylish again due to today’s parents’ fondness for airbags and other safety features.
Driving a crossover won’t always be de rigueur. Put on your prognosticator’s cap and tell us what you think the next sea change in the automotive world will bring us. Will the kids who grew up in crossovers embrace the three-box sedan? Will anyone care if our vehicles are all generic autonomous “mobility providers” that run silent and run green?
Personally, I think that we’re going to be operating vehicles with both internal combustion engines and steering wheels for a long time, and that humans like to decorate everything that we have, so style will always count, but then as I said at the outset, I’m old. I could be wrong and in any case, it’s just one man’s opinion. What’s yours?
Ten years from now, what will be the most popular type of vehicle that consumers buy? Will it come in a familiar form factor, like the sedan, or will it be sui generis, as the minivan and crossover have been?
*It wasn’t just moms, though the fact that fewer women worked outside of the home then meant that carpooling had a bit of a feminine flavor. I attended a community-wide Hebrew day school for K-9. Until we moved about a half-mile from the school and I could walk, my parents carpooled with other parents, and more often than not, it was the dads who drove in the morning. Even after we moved, my father, of blessed memory, would usually drop me off at school on his way to work.
Image Source: Ford Motor Co.