We Need More Sporty Versions of Affordable Crossovers

When Ford unveiled the Edge ST, I predicted that it signaled the future of practical performance cars. Since consumer tastes are shifting from cars to SUVs, possibly permanently, hot hatches are going to turn into hot crossovers. Since then, the Explorer ST has been confirmed for production alongside the Edge ST. These sporty SUVs line up with my predicted future of hot crossovers, but there’s one problem with both of them: they’re awfully expensive.

The Edge ST starts at $43,450, and the Explorer ST starts at $55,835. Those are both way too expensive. For reference, the Fiesta ST — which you can still get as a 2019 model — starts at just $22,315. And back when the Focus ST existed, it started in the mid-$20k range. There’s a significant price jump to the ST SUVs because they’re bigger and more premium than the hot hatches they’re replacing. If you just wanted a fun, fast, practical car, but didn’t need luxuries like heated leather seats or premium audio, you could get a fairly bare-bones Fiesta or Focus in ST form with the fun engine and transmission and call it a day without breaking the bank. That’s not the case with these new ST crossovers, which come very well equipped.

All that to say we need more sporty crossovers that are actually affordable for the people who want them. Where is the Subaru Forester STI? Where’s the Chevy Equinox SS? What about a Ford Escape ST for less than $30k? I’m surprised that none of these vehicles exist in a world where affordable, sporty compact cars exist, but their crossover counterparts don’t.

You might think that compact SUVs are just too boring to have sporty variants. What self-respecting car enthusiast would ever buy something like a Toyota RAV4, even if there were a high-performance TRD variant? To that, I say you could say the same thing about popular hot hatches. The non-sporty variants of cars like the Ford Focus, the Volkswagen Golf and the Honda Civic aren’t all that exciting on their own, but enthusiasts buy the hopped up versions and love them. I think the same thing could happen with small, sporty, affordable crossovers — if any automakers had the guts to build them.

As a father of three and a former Focus ST owner, a Ford ST crossover is something that should be right up my alley. In theory, a versatile Ford Explorer with all-wheel drive and three rows of seats, plus some fun ST DNA cooked into the performance and the styling, sounds great. I do think it looks pretty cool and I’m sure it’s a blast to drive (despite the lack of a manual transmission), but I have no interest in spending upwards of $60,000 on a Ford crossover. That’s more expensive than the fanciest, priciest minivans you can buy.

This is why we need way more affordable options when shopping for fun, sporty SUVs. My hope is that one manufacturer will give it a serious shot and more will follow suit, giving us a rich well of options for a vehicle that’s fun, practical and affordable — much like a hot hatch. Mitsubishi had its chance with the Eclipse Cross, but they forgot to give it good performance. Chevrolet is close by giving crossovers sporty appearance packages — but not sporty performance. Ford is the closest out of anybody — but they just need to make more affordable versions. Someday, I hope my dream will be a reality and I’ll have a Honda CR-V Si in my garage next to my minivan. Find a Crossover for sale

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