Recently, TFLcar witnessed a huge surge in the baby crossover market at the press event for the 2015 Chevrolet Trax. There, we discussed the exploding small/baby crossover market with industry experts and were floored to see how big this nearly nonexistent market is becoming. The next year will see baby crossovers like the Fiat 500X, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V, among others.
A “Baby Crossover” is a super small SUV/crossover that’s based on a small car platform. For instance: the 2015 Chevrolet Trax is based on General Motors’ Gamma II platform, which is shared with the small Chevrolet Sonic. Soon, nearly every automaker selling in North America will have a contender for this new category of crossover.
Is this category reallythat new?
The AMC Eagle (1979 – 1987) was one of the true forerunners of the small crossover world. Sure, they were a little ungainly to look at – they were capable, affordable, (fairly) efficient and truly defined a segment years before the segment existed. The AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé was, in essence, an AMC Gremlin that was lifted and fitted with AMC’s 4X4/AWD system.
“A first in mass production passenger cars, the early AMC Eagles came with a true full-time automatic system that operated only in permanent all-wheel drive. The four-wheel drivetrain added approximately 300 pounds (136 kg) to the Eagle’s curb weight. The AMC Eagles were also the first mass-produced U.S. four-wheel-drive vehicles with an independent front suspension.
The AMC Eagle’s central differential behind its TorqueFlite automatic transmission was single-speed (without a low-range option) and used a viscous fluid coupling for quiet and smooth transfer of power to the axle with the greatest traction, on wet or dry pavement. The central unit consisted of closely spaced, wavy clutch plates operating in a “honey-like Silicone fluid” performing a “limited-slip function” between the front and rear drives, as well as under adverse driving conditions sending torque to the axle with the most traction.” – – Wikipedia
the work that went into building all-wheel drive vehicles that, even by today’s standards, could blast through snow, tackle nasty roads, do light off roading and still handle fairly well around town.
“The AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé is a 3 door coupé style road car with a front mounted engine powering all four wheels.
It’s powered courtesy of a naturally aspirated engine of 4.2 litre capacity. This unit features overhead valve valve gear, 6 cylinder layout, and 2 valves per cylinder. It produces 110 bhp (112 PS/82 kW) of power at 3000 rpm, and maximum torque of 278 N·m (205 lb·ft/28.3 kgm) at 1800 rpm.” – – Carfolio.com
Think the AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé is too big to be the grandparent of the baby crossover revolution? Check out the specifications of the 1980 AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé when compared to the tiny 2015 Chevrolet Trax.
2015 Chevrolet Trax 167.20″
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 165″
Min Ground Clearance
2015 Chevrolet Trax 6.2″
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 5.4″
Track Width, Front
2015 Chevrolet Trax 60.6″
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 59.6″
2015 Chevrolet Trax 100.6″
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 97-inches”
Track Width, Rear
2015 Chevrolet Trax 60.6″
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 58″
Maximum curb weight
2015 Chevrolet Trax 3,254 lbs
AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé 4,321 lbs
Driving characteristics: Sure, the weight, efficiency and packaging of both vehicles are considerably different. Seeing how close other dimensional numbers are is pretty interesting. Around town, the AMC Eagle Kammback Coupé was a snap to drive and had a great turning radius. It was easy to sit in and, with the Gremlin’s high roofline, it was very comfortable for the driver. Back passengers had headroom, but poor legroom.
It was slow, very slow. Look, 110 hp is not enough to propel the 2+ton car around with alacrity. Still, its ride was pretty good on the highway and it was surprisingly easy to push through a corner. It didn’t feel too tippy at all, especially when compared with its larger siblings.
I never drove it on ice or snow, but I did drive it on a beach (Pismo Beach, CA) and it danced over all surfaces while trucks and Jeeps plowed. Pretty cool machine for the time folks.
Do you have a car to ad to this list? Let us know below!
Speaking of the 2015 Chevrolet Trax… See this TFL Show Episode #5 below starting at 13:38.
Jeep guys, if you’re contemplating a solid axle swap to an AMC Eagle – it’s been done.
… still a cool idea.