This post was originally a series of tweets on 10/15/2016. I’m repackaging and expanding on them for posterity.
SUVs are taking over the auto market. I know it, you know it, and manufacturers know it. Everybody wants one, and I absolutely don’t blame them. Modern crossovers drive like cars, don’t come with significant mpg penalties, and are close enough in price to justify their increased practicality. Every major (and most minor) automaker offers a range of SUVs to choose from. Toyota has five with a sixth on the way, Porsche has two, and Buick has three.
However, there is a curious hole in the offerings: affordable performance SUVs. Certainly, performance SUVs exist. BMW makes M-badged X5s. Mercedes makes AMG-badged everything. Porsche has fast, faster, and fastest versions of the Macan and Cayenne. Bentley and Lamborghini are even getting in the game. But those are high-end vehicles with high-end prices (the M-badged BMW X5 starts at over $100k). Down-market, the only option in the ballpark of the average new car price ($33k) is the Subaru Forester 2.0XT. The next closest option is the Jeep Cherokee SRT at $67k, double the average new car price.
That seems like an under-served market worth exploring. The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro starts at $25k. Why aren’t there slightly lifted, wagonesque bodies on those chassis starting in the low thirties? Something like a Ford Escape with Mustang running gear would sell like hotcakes, and the marketing writes itself. “Why buy a RAV4 snoozemobile like everyone else on your street when you could have the performance utility vehicle instead?” And it doesn’t even have to be that complicated. Nice Civic Type-R engine you have there, Honda, let’s stick it in a CR-V and see what happens!