Auto makers have long sought the perfect balance between power, room, efficiency, and style. The crossover is the industry's latest find. With estimated sales of the category to exceed 3 million next year, it seems the industry has found a winner.

More and more people are finding a sedan simply doesn't fit enough people or cargo for their daily needs, especially as anti-traffic measures like carpooling become more common, reports MSNBC. The rising price of fuel and growing concern for the environment make SUVs a dying breed. That's where crossovers step in - more car than a sedan, without the efficiency-sapping size and bulk of the SUV. Ford's Kuga crossover concept (pictured) is a model for the genre, its edgy looks and flowing shape a hit at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show.

Built on the same platforms that underpin sedans, typical crossovers provide car-like efficiency - Mazda's CX-7 manages 17mpg (13.8L/100km) city and 22mpg (10.7L/100km) highway - while holding 5 adults in comfort and providing, in the Mazda's case, 29.9cu ft (847.9L) cargo capcity -- 58.6cu. ft. (1661.9L) with the second-row seats folded down.

It wasn't easy for the industry to find this sweet spot, and car makers are looking forward to a long life for the nascent crossover category. 2008 is set to be the sector's coming-out party, with analysts expecting 70 to 80 models to hit the streets over the next two years.