Much like the Laser Disc, there are odd automotive segments that never quite made it to mainstream acceptance. The strange Chevy El Camino, Subaru Brat in the hybridized car-pickup “non-segment” segment, and the Pontiac G8 ST that never even made it to production — all were far from successful. “Failure” seems closer to the truth.

Today’s ubiquitous crossover could’ve taken the same road. They were created largely for the American driver, who couldn’t stomach ever-increasing gas prices but still demanded a higher riding position and ample space for Costco runs, soccer cleat-clad children, beach balls, and so on. The Toyota RAV4 was the first crossover to arrive on our shores in 1996, spawning myriad successors, all providing performance and excitement worthy of any retirement community member. But all that changed in the recent past; you no longer have to trade in your testicles and driving sense to drive one. Even the haters (car nuts) have been proven wrong now that more horses, better driving dynamics and sleeker silhouettes have shown up in performance-focused crossovers. Here are five that break hard from the pack of mediocre crossovers still stuck in the driver’s ed parking lot.

MORE STILTED STEEDS: Bigger is Better: Best Full-Size Pickup Trucks | Crosstraining: Driving Five Great Crossovers/a> | Behind The Wheel: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover

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