Vehicles That Deny Convention

Michael Schlee


Most vehicles fall into standard categories in the automotive world. There are Vans, Pickup Trucks, SUVs, Sedans, Coupes, Wagons, etc. Granted, there are usually sub-sections within these categories to better define a vehicle. However, one look at the majority vehicles and there is no mistaking what it is.

Toyota Venza

Toyota Venza

No one will ever confuse a Ford F-150 with being a station wagon, a Mini cooper with being a minivan, or Chevrolet Corvette with being an SUV. But sometimes, a vehicle comes along that defies conventional classification.


The most iconic of all these vehicles is the Chevrolet El Camino. For nearly 30 years Chevrolet produced this half car, half pickup truck. Ford also had its own ‘Pick-Up Car’ called the Ranchero during this time period. Even Subaru attempted a Pick-Up Car in the 1970’s with the Brat, and then again recently with the Baja.  Pick-Up Cars aren’t the only historical ‘Whatchamacallits’. Who could forget the AMC Eagle Wagon-On-Steroids or Volkswagen Thing…..uh……thing.


Today there are more vehicles that defy conventional classification then ever before. Why? Well, there are many theories behind that. Some say it is the CUV craze, some cite the competitive marketplace while others say it is a reflection of changing consumer needs.


What ever the reason, I’ve subjectively listed the 15 vehicles that I feel defy conventional classification. Even amongst these 15 ‘unclassified’ vehicles, there seems to be 5 prevalent themes behind their purposes. Here they are.



SUW (Sport Utility Wagons)

These are generally station wagons on steroids. Subaru and Volvo have both been players in this category for a while offering raised up wagons ready to do some mild offroading.
• Subaru Outback
• Toyota Venza
• Volvo XC70

Volvo XC70

Volvo XC70



MMV (Mini-Minivans)

These vehicles offer all the benefits of a conventional minivan in a smaller, more fuel efficient space. Not as big, heavy, or cumbersome as a regular minivan, these vehicles offer 3rd row seating, storage space and utility. Think of them as Minivan lite.
• Kia Rondo
• Mazda 5

Kia Rondo

Kia Rondo



SU-Van (Sport Utility Van)

Much like the SUW, these are minivans on steroids. Unlike the Chevrolet Uplander which just had a SUV look to it, these vehicles are much more then that. Think SUV underpinnings and style with minivan design, layout and utility.
• Ford Edge
• Lincoln MKT
• Mercedes R-Class

Mercedes-Benz R-Class

Mercedes-Benz R-Class



Tall Hatches

This is a tricky class of vehicle to name and classify. For the most part these vehicles are built on compact car chassis and feature 4 cylinder engines. They are all hatchbacks with taller bodies featuring better utility then their compact car cousins. These vehicles range from the small Nissan Cube to the near SUV Jeep Compass. In fact, if it weren’t for the Compass’ more truck like twin, the Jeep Patriot, it may not be confused as much as it is for a car. On a side note, in the USA there is also the Scion xB
• Chevrolet HHR
• Chrysler PT Cruiser
• Jeep Compass
• Kia Soul
• Mercedes B-Class
• Nissan Cube

Kia Soul

Kia Soul



SUC (Sport Utility Coupe)

Yeah, the acronym may ‘Suc’, but this is a vehicle currently all its own. A large SUV based off another large SUV styled to mimic a coupe. Oh yeah, there will even be an M version coming out in the near future.
• BMW X6





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1 Response to Whatchamacallits?

  1. Its good to know I drive a tall hatch i had no idea that was the classification I love my Chevy HHR best car ever great fuel economy drives like a dream and I love the way it looks.

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