The automotive landscape is always evolving, catering to the ever-changing needs of the consumer and, to a large degree, the whims of manufacturers. So it’s interesting to see that Ford USA has placed all its eggs in two baskets, planning for a future in which sedans and hatchbacks no longer exist and all cars anyone buys fall into one of three categories:

1. SUVs
2. Trucks
3. Sports cars

The Rise Of The SUV

Trucks have always been a staple in the USA, but in the last decade, we’ve seen a growth in the sales of SUVs. It’s not just genuine truck-based SUVs with off-road intent, either; the world has been overrun by a new breed of ‘crossovers’, the best mix of an SUV’s high ride height, comfortable seats, and large cargo area, but without the negatives like thirsty engines with high fuel economy. We’ve even seen an upsurge in performance crossovers like the Ford Edge ST, which are able to satiate the desires for a practical family car with the performance of a hot hatch.

The SUV craze has resulted in niche vehicles all vying for customers hard-earned money, with added sportiness found in the form of coupe SUVs from various brands, while the move towards electrification has created further diversity. You mix this with the desire for genuine off-roaders as well, and there’s an almost endless combination of products that all fit within the high-riding category.

By the time 2021 rolls around, Ford will have no fewer than eight SUVs on offer, ranging from the subcompact EcoSport to the full-size Ford Expedition and Expedition Max. In between these, the Escape, Edge, and Explorer occupy the crossover territories, while the Mustang Mach-E provides a cross between an EV, SUV, and a sports car all in one package. The newest additions to the roster come in the form of the truck-based Ford Bronco off-roader, and the Bronco Sport - a compact off-roader based on the Escape.

The Death Of Sedans And Hatchbacks
Although many brands still sell sedans and hatchbacks in the USA, Ford has been forward-thinking, discontinuing the Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks in favor of new crossovers and SUVs to fill their place. Did the humble hatchback not fulfill its duty? Well, it did, and with performance models like the Focus and Fiesta ST, and even the Focus RS, there was a hatchback for most people’s needs. But in an era where the manual gearbox is dying, most buyers don’t care for involvement and see their vehicles as appliances. This results in people wanting comfort and good visibility, which are easier to attain in an SUV.

Sedans had it far tougher as they were incredibly limited by trunk volume, and often the pursuit of style resulted in cramped rear seats. There are still perks, such as sedans making ideal performance cars with low-mounted engines, numerous available configurations, and a low center of gravity in comparison to an SUV. But people who want sports cars will now buy the genuine item, and as a commuter, an SUV is far more practical than most sedans. At the end of the day, it’s become a case of “why buy two cars when one can do the job of both?” 

Sports Cars Always Have A Place
SUVs may be endowed with big engines and overly firm suspensions that defy the laws of physics - along with delivering poor gas mileage and at a high MSRP - but a tall, heavy vehicle will never be a true sports car. These machines fill a space that covers practicality and moderate performance, making them ideal as family cars; but the wealthy, or the enthusiasts, who can afford a second car just for pleasure will always indulge in a genuine sports car.

This may take the form of a two-door coupe, or even a convertible, but performance is always paramount, often at the expense of chasing miles per gallon. Just a single test drive behind the wheel of a sports car is enough to show that despite these being niche vehicles, they will always have a place on the market as something that inspires passion. 

Get Used To It
Driving enthusiasts will lament the death of sedans, hatchbacks, and station wagons for all their performance benefits over an SUV, but at the end of the day, the market caters to what buyers put money down on. In the current day and age, it’s SUVs, and no matter how much we try and fight this, it’s not going to change. Most people buy cars as appliances to get from point A to point B, and in this light, the crossover is hard to beat. However, we can take solace in the fact that there will always be sports cars, even if it is just a humble four-cylinder Mustang, meaning if you can afford a second car or are willing to sacrifice practicality for the sake of joy, there will always be something out there for you.