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Why Don’t They Make SUVs Anymore? | Kunes Auto Group

Published on Sep 18, 2023 by Talia Mushinsky

If you've ever wondered why SUVs, or Sports Utility Vehicles, are such a big deal, you've come to the right place. They were once the cool giants of the road, ready to take on any adventure you could think of. Imagine having a vehicle that not only has room for all your friends and their stuff, but can also tackle trails off road like a champ! These vehicles were the go-to vehicles if you wanted a mix of space, strength, and fun. But lately, it feels like the real spirit of SUVs is slowly fading away.

Back in the day, SUVs were like the superheroes of cars, all set to tackle rocky trails and carry loads of stuff without any issues. The original SUV was crafted with a nod to military vehicles, intended to facilitate off-road adventures post-WWII. They were envisioned as beasts that could carry hefty loads with ease, equipped with all-wheel drive and featuring a tailgate that allowed for comfortable outdoor seating, sheltering you from the ground where potential dangers lurked. These SUVs provided the perfect setup for enjoying a snack amidst a hunting expedition, with tailgates designed to hold your coffee at just the right height. Pretty cool, right?

blue vintage 70s Chevy SUV towing a camper on a dirt road

It seems like the true essence of SUVs is being lost. Today, crafting an SUV seems to be more about elevating the design and interior of a regular front-wheel drive hatchback, which, though not inherently bad, does steer away from the original concept of SUVs, leading to increased prices and somewhat diminished handling capabilities. Sure, you might come across modern SUVs with spacious trunks, but it feels like manufacturers have strayed away from the SUV’s rugged, versatile origins, rather than keeping its adventurous heart alive. 

These days, SUVs have fancier insides compared to the old times when they were known for being tough and useful. It's not as easy to move big things with them as it was before. This shift towards luxury has not only escalated maintenance and cleaning demands but also compromised visibility on the roads due to heightened vehicle stature. Unfortunately, despite these changes, the revamped SUVs have not shown significant advancements in their ability to navigate difficult terrains.

It Beckons the Question: What Truly Embodies the Spirit of A Genuine American SUV Now?

As we reminisce about the golden era of SUVs, we at Kunes Auto Group invite you to explore vehicles that echo the true spirit of the classic American SUV, marrying both comfort and utility seamlessly. Let's bring back the adventure and ruggedness that SUVs were originally celebrated for!

We're going to take you on a journey exploring what makes SUVs the popular choice for many families and adventurers. So buckle up, because we're about to dive into the exciting world of SUVs, checking out their awesome features, the good sides, the not-so-good sides, and which brands are rocking the new and used market.

Let's get rolling!

row of SUVs and other vehicles parked in a parking lot

General SUV Features

Sports Utility Vehicles, aka SUVs, are a type of vehicle that combines elements of road-going cars with features from off-road vehicles.

Learn More About Standard SUV Features

  • Size and Space: SUVs are larger than regular sedans, providing more room for passengers and cargo space.
  • Seating Capacity: SUVs typically have seating for five or more passengers, with some larger models offering third-row seating to accommodate up to seven or eight people.
  • Body Style: SUVs have a more upright, boxy body style compared to sedans. They often feature higher rooflines and more substantial hoods.
  • Ground Clearance: SUVs usually offer higher ground clearance compared to sedans, allowing them to traverse uneven terrain more easily.
  • Engine Performance: Many SUVs are equipped with powerful engines, providing substantial towing capacity and off-road capabilities.
  • Drivetrain: SUVs can be found with a variety of drivetrains, including front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), and all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
  • Off-road Capability: Depending on the specific model, some SUVs are designed with off-road capabilities, featuring skid plates, hill descent control, and other specialized systems.
  • Safety Features: Due to their larger size, SUVs often come equipped with a range of safety features such as advanced airbag systems, stability control, and anti-lock brakes.
father and son sit on the back tailgate of a green SUV on the side of a forest road

SUV Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Spacious: Offers more space for passengers and cargo compared to most sedans.
  • Versatile: Can handle a variety of driving conditions, including off-road terrains.
  • Safety: Generally, offer a higher driving position, which provides better visibility and might offer more protection in collisions.

Cons

  • Fuel Efficiency: Typically, consume more fuel compared to smaller vehicles.
  • Maneuverability: Due to their size, SUVs can be more challenging to maneuver in tight spaces.
  • Price: Generally, more expensive compared to sedans and hatchbacks, both in terms of purchase price and upkeep.

Popular SUV Brands

  • Toyota: Known for producing reliable and durable SUVs.
  • Ford: Offers a wide range of SUVs, from compact to full-size models.
  • Jeep: Specializes in producing SUVs with strong off-road capabilities.
  • Honda: Produces a range of popular compact and mid-size SUVs.
  • BMW: Offers a range of luxury SUVs with advanced features and technology.

Different Segments of SUVs

Crossover SUVs

Discover the booming world of SUVs, a category that has been witnessing a surge in popularity, especially the "crossover SUV" segment, commonly known as "crossovers" or "CUVs." Since 2010, the allure for these vehicles has spiked, captivating the hearts of many.

 

Essentially, crossovers blend the comfort and fuel economy of passenger cars with the spaciousness of SUVs. They are built on a car-based platform, offering a smoother ride compared to traditional SUVs, which are often based on truck platforms.However, crossover SUVs may not offer the same off-road prowess as traditional SUVs, which are commonly built on a more robust body-on-frame platform, resembling off-road vehicles and light trucks.

 

Interestingly, the lines between crossovers and traditional SUVs often blur, with many unibody vehicles also being classified as SUVs. The term "crossover" is relatively recent, hence early unibody SUVs aren't usually referred to as crossovers. Due to these overlapping characteristics, "SUV" has become a universal term encompassing both crossovers and traditional SUVs.

Pros

  • Car-Like Ride: Offer a smoother, more car-like ride compared to traditional SUVs.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Generally more fuel-efficient compared to larger, truck-based SUVs.
  • Versatility: Offer a good balance of passenger space, cargo space, and performance.
  • Affordable Luxury: Many crossovers come with luxury features at a more affordable price point compared to luxury SUVs.
White 2023 Nissan Rogue

Ideal SUV For

  • Urban Families: Families living in urban areas who are looking for a vehicle that offers a blend of space, comfort, and performance.
  • Young Professionals: Often preferred by young professionals for their stylish designs and modern features.

Crossover SUV Models

  • Nissan Rogue: Offers a comfortable interior and a range of advanced safety features. (pictured left)
  • Honda HR-V: Known for its spacious interior and versatile cargo space.

Compact SUVs

Stepping up in size and comfort, the compact SUV is where innovation meets sophistication.

 

We often notice that many vehicles dubbed as compact SUVs are essentially compact crossovers, harmoniously merging the comfort and style of a C-segment passenger car with the functionality of an SUV. This unique blend provides an optimal balance, making them a popular choice for modern drivers.

Pros

  • Fuel Efficiency: Generally offer better fuel economy compared to larger SUVs.
  • Maneuverability: Easier to navigate in tight urban spaces due to their compact size.
  • Affordability: Tend to be more affordable in terms of initial purchase price and maintenance costs compared to larger SUVs.
  • Adequate Cargo Space: Despite their smaller size, they still offer a decent amount of cargo space compared to sedans.
pictured left to right: gray 2023 Ford Escape, red 2023 Ford Escape

Ideal Vehicle For

  • Urban Dwellers: Individuals or small families living in urban areas where parking and space are limited.
  • First-Time Car Buyers: Those who are buying a car for the first time and prefer a vehicle that is easier to handle and park.
  • Daily Commuters: People who have a substantial amount of daily commuting and are looking for a fuel-efficient option.

Compact SUV Models

  • Honda CR-V: Offers a comfortable interior and advanced safety features.
  • Ford Escape: Known for its robust engine options and user-friendly technology.

Here, you'll find the perfect blend of elegance, space, and innovation, ready to redefine your driving experience. Remember, when it's about hitting the road in style, a compact SUV from Kunes Auto Group is your go-to choice!

Mid-Size SUVs

Mid-size SUVs are the perfect blend of comfort, performance, and elegance. Positioned ideally between the compact and full-size SUVs, these magnificent beasts promise a seamless transition from the city streets to the adventurous trails. Mid-size SUVs are where space meets style without compromising on fuel efficiency. Many of these versatile vehicles combine the best elements of passenger cars with the robustness of SUVs, offering you a premium driving experience.

 

Mid-size SUVs bring forth an exemplary array of choices that cater to varied tastes. Stepping into one means embracing a lifestyle of comfort, balanced with high-performance capabilities.

Pros

  • Balanced Space: Offers a good balance between passenger and cargo space without being too large.
  • Versatility: Capable of handling a variety of driving conditions, including light off-roading.
  • Towing Capacity: Generally have a decent towing capacity, allowing for the transportation of trailers, boats, etc.
  • Family-Friendly: Often equipped with features that cater to families, such as third-row seating and advanced safety features.
white 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Ideal SUV For

  • Growing Families: Families with children who need more space for passengers and cargo.
  • Outdoor Enthusiasts: People who enjoy outdoor activities and need a vehicle that can handle different terrains.

Mid-size SUV Models:

  • Toyota Highlander: Offers a smooth ride, a spacious interior, and a good reliability rating.
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee: Known for its strong off-road capabilities and a range of powerful engines.

So, when you are ready to upgrade your drive, make sure to explore the mid-size SUV range at Kunes Auto Group - your gateway to a world of adventure, luxury, and unprecedented driving pleasure.

Full-Size SUVs

Full-size SUVs offer you a grandeur driving experience that's simply unmatched. In this elite category, you'll find the pinnacle of space, power, and sophisticated engineering, promising not just a journey, but an adventure every time you hit the road.

 

Step into a world of refined adventure with the Chevrolet Tahoe or the Ford Expedition, renowned behemoths in the SUV realm, masterfully crafted to elevate your driving experience. Whether you're on the hunt for a vehicle boasting superior off-road capabilities or seeking the epitome of luxury, rest assured, Kunes Auto Group has the perfect option for you.

Pros

  • Spacious Interior: Offers the most space for rear seats, passengers, and cargo space among the SUV categories.
  • Powerful Engines: Equipped with powerful engines, providing substantial towing capacity.
  • Off-Road Capabilities: Many full-size SUVs offer strong off-road capabilities.
  • Luxury Features: Often come with a range of luxury features, including premium materials and advanced technology.
red 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe

Ideal SUV For:

  • Large Families: Families with several members who require a large amount of space.
  • Towing Needs: Individuals with significant towing needs, such as towing trailers, boats, or campers.

Full-size SUV Models

  • Chevrolet Tahoe: Known for its spacious interior and powerful engine options.
  • Ford Expedition: Offers a smooth ride, a range of powerful engines, and a spacious, upscale interior.

We invite you to explore this splendid array of full-size SUVs, a realm where grandeur meets functionality, perfectly curated to suit the tastes of the discerning driver. Let us help you find your perfect match, where elegance meets unparalleled power, only at Kunes Auto Group.

Luxury SUVs

We specialize in bringing you SUVs that redefine spaciousness and luxury. Most of these extended SUVs are constructed on robust platforms similar to full-sized or heavy-duty pickups, assuring you strength and durability. They are decked out with premium features that make every ride a pleasurable experience, incorporating advanced technology and utilizing high-quality materials to give you a taste of luxury.

Pros

  • Premium Features: Come with a range of premium features, including high-quality materials, advanced technology, and superior comfort.
  • Performance: Often offer strong performance with powerful engines and advanced suspension systems.
  • Advanced Safety Features: Equipped with the latest safety features and technology.
  • Brand Prestige: Owning a luxury SUV can be a status symbol due to the prestige associated with luxury brands.
gray 2023 BMW X5

Ideal SUV For

  • Affluent Buyers: Individuals who are willing to spend more for premium features and brand prestige.
  • Corporate Executives: Often preferred by corporate executives for their luxury and comfort features.

Luxury SUV Models

  • BMW X5: Known for its powerful engines and agile handling.
  • Lexus RX: Offers a smooth ride, a premium interior, and a range of advanced safety features.

Let us help guide you in finding the SUV that suits your style and meets all your space needs, only at Kunes Auto Group.

The Most Reliable SUVs of All Time

In the dynamic world of SUVs, reliability often stands as a cornerstone of excellence, defining a vehicle's true value and appeal. When you think of steadfast companions that have gracefully aged like a fine wine, always delivering more than expected, several names come to mind. From the not-so-flashy yet absolutely reliable Toyota RAV4 to the sturdy and dependable Chevrolet Suburban, these MVPs in the SUV segment have garnered a loyal fan base that swears by their unyielding performances and unwavering reliability. As we venture on this journey to discover the most reliable SUVs of all time, brace yourselves to meet the legendary stalwarts that have left an indelible mark in the annals of automotive history.

pictured left to right: red 2023 Toyota Rav4, white 2023 Toyota Rav4, light blue 2023 Toyota Rav4

Toyota RAV4: A Not-So-Flashy SUV in its Category

Now, when it comes to looks, it may not be the flashiest, but it has a reputation that makes up for it in spades. It's known to be super reliable, maybe even the best in its class. And the inside - it's like a peaceful, roomy haven with all the techy bits you'd want. Not to mention, it's got some serious get-up-and-go, thanks to a powerhouse of an engine!

 

Owners Just Can't Get Enough of Their RAV4s:
When it comes to the Toyota RAV4, the buzz is all about its steadfast reliability and impressive performance over the years. Its enduring appeal is evident from the numerous positive reviews it has garnered. Owners of older models consistently highlight its resilience, with particular emphasis on its ability to withstand various weather conditions seamlessly. 

 

Moreover, a remarkable number of people have noted the smooth, hiccup-free rides it offers, spanning across different years of usage. This cumulative praise paints a picture of a vehicle that stands the test of time, making it a worthy investment for anyone looking to purchase a car that combines reliability with comfort.

pictured left to right: red 2024 Toyota Sequoia, blue 2024 Toyota Sequoia, white 2024 Toyota Sequoia

Toyota Sequoia: The Unyielding Powerhouse on Wheels

Let's get real for a moment: the Toyota Sequoia is like the superhero sidekick to the widely admired Tundra, inheriting the same rock-solid and almost unbeatable drivetrain. It's been shining in the spotlight for quite some time, proving to be a trustworthy companion on both smooth roads and bumpy trails, without making you break the bank.

 

Here's the Lowdown on the Toyota Sequoia's Unwavering Reliability:
The Toyota Sequoia isn't just another vehicle on the road; it has consistently stood as a beacon of reliability, winning the hearts of many over the years. In fact, it's been holding a top spot in the reliability rankings for a while now, impressing even the most seasoned car enthusiasts. Its track record speaks volumes.

white 2001 Mitsubishi Montero

Mitsubishi Montero: Your Trusty Companion for Adventures and Daily Commutes

Alright, time for some real talk: the Mitsubishi Montero, especially the ones from the '90s, have a legendary reputation in the midsize SUV category. Sure, its trusty 3.5-liter V6 engine might not wow the newer generation, but there was a time when its lively 200 horsepower was the highlight of automotive conversations. Not to mention, its agility, especially in the short wheelbase version, which boldly rivaled even the most reputable off-road beasts.

 

Indeed, the cherished Mitsubishi Montero concluded its remarkable journey in 2006, leaving a legacy of comfort and adaptability. Now, if you're seeking to recapture the Montero's unique blend of comfort and versatility, look no further than Mitsubishi's Outlander. Inheriting the Montero's spirit, the Outlander stands ready to usher you into a new era of adventure, promising a harmonious blend of city grace and rugged readiness, echoing the grandeur and nostalgia of the iconic Montero. It's more than a vehicle; it's an invitation to rediscover the joy of the journey, just as you would in a Montero. Let the adventure continue!

pictured left to right: white 2023 Toyota 4Runner, red 2023 Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner: The Unsung Hero with Pickup Truck Grit

When it comes to pinpointing who first sparked the trend of melding pickup utility with SUV structure, we reckon the 4Runner might just be one of the trailblazers.

 

This fusion doesn't exactly scream luxury comfort, but what it lacks in plushness, it compensates with a stout character, capable of lugging hefty loads akin to a pickup truck. And let's not forget its shared lineage with the legendary Hilux – a vehicle hailed for its near-indestructible demeanor.

 

Toyota 4Runner: The Choice of Happy Owners Everywhere
When we chat with 4Runner owners, one thing becomes clear: they absolutely love their SUVs! This car seems to have a knack for impressing everyone with its remarkable reliability. Time and time again, it stands tall, scoring high marks in dependability surveys.

Remember the stories of its incredible adventures? Well, owners swear by its ability to tackle any terrain like a champ. Picture cruising through the snow without a worry, because this SUV handles it "like a beast". It seems that no matter how hard people try, getting this car stuck is nearly impossible. With a bit of a lift, it conquers even the toughest terrains, leaving everyone amazed.

 

And the love for the 4Runner goes beyond just its rugged capabilities. Owners are so attached to their 4Runners that letting go of them feels almost unthinkable, even when a shiny new car comes into the picture. Whether you're planning cross-country adventures or just running errands around town, the 4Runner promises to be a loyal companion, ready to stand the test of time, miles, and adventures. In the eyes of its numerous fans, it embodies the very essence of reliability, making it a choice you'll cherish for years to come.

black 2023 Volvo CX90

Volvo XC90: Unbeatable Reliability Meets Strong Performance

If you're on the hunt for a vehicle that embodies safety, innovation, and stellar performance, let us introduce you to the Volvo XC90. Now, you might be thinking, "What makes it so special?" Well, buckle up, because you're about to find out!

 

The XC90 isn't just a pretty face; it packs a punch with its vigorous engine performance that promises to spice up your daily drives. And reliability? Oh, it's got that in spades! You won't have to worry about it letting you down when you need it the most.

 

Volvo XC90: Owners Can't Stop Raving About It
People who own an XC90 just can't help but gush about it. Picture this: folks enjoying long-distance trips without a hitch, thanks to its comforting embrace and dependable nature. It's like the XC90 has a magic touch that makes road trips smoother and more enjoyable.

Owners from all walks of life trust their XC90s to take them places, and guess what? It never disappoints!

 

And if you're wondering about longevity, prepare to be wowed. There's chatter about these cars going strong even after clocking in an impressive number of miles, proving that the XC90 is built to last and be your faithful companion on the road for many years to come.

 

If you're ready to embrace safety, comfort, and an exhilarating performance, the Volvo XC90 is waiting to welcome you with open arms!

dark green 2023 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Mercedes-Benz G-Class: A Beast Both in Power and Reliability

If you've been seeking a vehicle that promises not only stellar tech advancements and powerful performance but also steadfast reliability, then you're in for a treat with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Imagine a vehicle that's kind of like that trusted friend who's always there for you, no matter what! Yeah, the G-Class is exactly that, but in SUV form!

 

The G-Class doesn't just keep up with the times, it practically leads the charge! Even the basic models are nothing short of a powerhouse, boasting a turbocharged V8 engine that promises to inject a healthy dose of excitement into your drives with its impressive 416 horsepower. It's like having a guardian angel under the hood, ensuring you reach your destination safely and enjoyably, no matter the kind of journey you embark on.

 

And for those of you with a penchant for even more power, prepare to have your minds blown! The AMG G 63 variant steps things up a notch, offering a jaw-dropping 577 horsepower to fuel your adventures. It's the kind of car that doesn't just meet expectations but surpasses them in every way, satisfying even the most power-hungry among us.

 

Mercedes-Benz G-Class: Owners Singing Praises Far and Wide
Across the board, owners are showering the G-Class with adoration, pointing out its reliability as a standout feature. Picture this: individuals cherishing their vehicle as if it were a trusted member of the family, always ready to deliver on promises of reliability and might.

 

Imagine cruising in a vehicle that not only promises luxury but has a long-standing reputation of delivering on the reliability front. And you know what? It's not just about the newer models. Even older versions have won the hearts of many, with owners happily vouching for their unwavering reliability, time and time again.

 

So, are you ready to become part of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class family? Trust us, it's an experience filled with power, reliability, and an unyielding spirit of adventure. It's more than just a car; it's a lifestyle, a statement, a true companion on the road!

pictured left to right: gray 2023 Chevrolet Suburban and a black 2023 Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban: A Time-Honored Champ with Sturdy Scores

This gem has been hitting the roads since 1934, making it a shining star with the longest-standing automotive nameplate under its belt. Chevrolet Suburban is like that favorite grandpa with stories spanning generations, showcasing a rich history and a spirit that stands tall even today. Now, that's what we call a legend!

 

The Chevrolet Suburban is known for its rock-solid dependability and outstanding quality that seems to just get better with age, much like a fine wine. It's a true superstar, stealing the spotlight not just in sales figures but also when it comes to being a reliable buddy on the road.

 

Chevrolet Suburban: Owners Can't Stop Gushing About It

Now, if you're someone who's all about space and reliability, the Suburban is just the right fit for you. Imagine stepping into a gentle giant, ready to embrace you with its spacious interiors and dependable performance. Yes, it's big, but don't let those tight parking spots intimidate you – it's got your back with a little maneuvering magic!

 

Owners everywhere are absolutely smitten with their Suburbans, and can you blame them? The waves of praise are endless, with folks readily awarding it perfect scores for being a trustworthy companion on all their journeys. Whether it's cruising smoothly on a long road trip or being a reliable everyday ride, the Suburban has proven to be a real hero in the automobile world.

 

Trust us, it's not just a car, it's an experience packed with legacy, comfort, and a promise of unmatched reliability!

red 2023 Buick Envision

Buick Envision: A Robust Gem in the Compact SUV Sector

While Buick has been a bit of a silent warrior in recent years, they've quietly been cooking up some absolutely fantastic rides, and the Envision is no exception. Since gracing the roads for the first time in 2016, it's been a beacon of the brand's innovative spirit and resilience.

 

You see, this charming compact SUV has been turning heads and stealing hearts everywhere with its undying reliability. It's like that trusted friend who never lets you down, always scoring top marks in the quality and reliability departments. Talk about being a consistent performer!

 

Buick Envision: Owners Can't Get Enough of It
A compact SUV that embodies luxury in every curve and detail, the Envision stands as a dependable companion, eager to join you on every adventure. Quickly ascending to favoritism in the SUV segment, owners consistently praise its steadfast reliability and impeccable style.

 

The love for the Envision isn't just a passing phase. It's been a steady flame burning bright, as seen in the consistent shower of high ratings and reviews from its community of proud owners. From first-time buyers to long-time car enthusiasts, the praises are endless, and the reliability scores just keep soaring high, often hitting the perfect 5-star mark!

 

Bring home a vehicle that promises a blend of luxury, innovation, and steadfast reliability: The Buick Envision. Once you experience the Envision magic, you'll join the chorus of happy owners singing its praises!

silver / white 2023 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer: The Ideal Trustworthy Family Ride

Let's take a stroll down memory lane, back to when Ford introduced this fabulous machine as a successor to the beloved Bronco. Tailoring it more to families, the Explorer soon became the talk of the town with its convenient five-door option, sweeping family purchasers off their feet!

 

Now, stepping into the present, the Ford Explorer continues to impress, with the 2023 model boasting a jaw-dropping reliability score that makes it a prime pick for families, standing tall and proud as a beacon of reliability in the automotive landscape.

 

You see, this isn't just us saying this; Ford Explorer owners can't stop singing its praises. From its early days to the more recent models, it's clear that this vehicle has struck a chord with many. They rave about its star performance, its consistency, and how it has proven to be a trustworthy companion over the years.

 

So, why not consider becoming a part of the ever-growing family of happy Ford Explorer owners? After all, with decades of satisfied customers, it seems like the Ford Explorer might just be the perfect addition to your family!

silver 2023 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler: The Trustworthy Trailblazer

The Wrangler isn't just any SUV—it's a living legend that carries the heritage of Jeep in every nut and bolt. Think of a vehicle that's got the heart of a warrior, tracing its roots back to rugged military vehicles but spruced up with all the modern comforts to make your daily drives a breeze. Yes, the Wrangler has evolved to ensure that your daily commuting is just as thrilling as any off-road escapade.

 

Now, we all know that the journey to perfection can have a few bumps, and the Wrangler had its share. But guess what? It has grown, matured, and come out stronger, becoming a symbol of dependability on wheels. It's not uncommon to see Wranglers that have been on the road for decades still purring and roaring with gusto, embracing both highways and rough trails with equal zest.

 

Today's Wranglers? Oh, they're nothing short of amazing, continuing a tradition of reliability that's honestly impressive. Just ask around, and you'll find a community of proud Wrangler owners who can't stop gushing about their rides. They’ll tell you about the unmatched off-road capabilities and how their Wranglers have stood by them, without a hiccup, through thick and thin.

 

If you're on the hunt for a vehicle that promises not only adventure but also a reliable companion, the Jeep Wrangler is calling your name. It's not just a vehicle, it's a lifestyle, and it's inviting you to be part of a legacy of thrill and dependability. You should give it a spin!

Over the years, we have seen how SUVs have constantly improved, becoming some of the best vehicles on the market. Each one has its own special features, being reliable, powerful, and comfortable. These SUVs have become favorites in their class. We can see this with the strong Toyota Sequoia and the tough Jeep Wrangler. These cars offer not just a ride, but a memorable experience because of their proven reliability and great history. As we finish looking at these popular SUVs, it's clear that they are truly great cars, finding a special place in the homes and hearts of the people who own them, offering safe and exciting trips. When you’re ready to take home your own SUV, get in touch with a sales representative at your local Kunes Auto Group dealership today!

How the SUV Got its Start

The birth of the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) concept is a bit murky, given that it is intertwined with the evolution of various vehicles including station wagons and light trucks. The origins of the SUV can be traced back to military vehicles during the 1930s and 1940s, like the American Jeep and the British Land Rover, which were designed to be rugged and capable of traversing rough terrains. 

 

After World War II, manufacturers saw the potential of this type of vehicle for civilian use. People needed vehicles that could handle a variety of tasks, including carrying goods and people, while providing more comfort than the existing trucks offered. Additionally, as recreational outdoor activities became more popular, there was a growing demand for vehicles that could easily transport equipment and navigate difficult terrains. 

 

The SUV was developed to meet these needs, providing a versatile vehicle that could handle a wide range of tasks and terrain while offering a comfortable ride for passengers.

Significant Milestones in the Growth and Transformation of the SUV

1941 Willys Jep military vehicle

1930s to late ‘40s: World War II Era
The early formation of the SUV concept begins, merging the comfort of sedans with the robustness suitable for off-road adventures. During the period of heightened demand for military use vehicles with off-road prowess, essential SUV components like transfer cases and second differentials experienced a monumental increase in production, exceeding a hundred-fold. This surge was propelled by the relentless efforts and innovation from leading companies such as Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet.

 

  • 1936: Japan: Introduction of the Kurogane Type 95, blending sedan comfort with off-road capabilities.
    • Germany: Introduction of the 1936 Opel Geländesportwagen.
  • 1938: Russia: Launch of the GAZ-61, a significant step towards modern SUV designs.
  • 1940:  United Kingdom: Unveiling of the Humber Heavy Utility, a passenger car chassis equipped with a four-wheel-drive system, hinting at the future direction of SUVs.
  • 1941:  Germany:  Introduction of the 1941 Volkswagen Kommandeurswagen, adding to the burgeoning SUV landscape.
    • United States: The 1941 Willys Jeep transitions from a military vehicle to a civilian favorite, paving the way for modern SUVs.
  • 1947:  Introduction of the Crosley CC Four Sport Utility, showcasing a novel body style, albeit different from future SUV designs.
  • 1948:  United Kingdom: Launch of the 1948 Land Rover Series I, which quickly gains popularity in both civilian and military sectors.
1955 Chevrolet Suburban

1950s to 1970s: The Dawn of a New Vehicle Era
In the 60s-70s, the SUV market transformed with notable launches like the International Harvester Scout and Jeep Wagoneer, introducing luxury and innovative features, reshaping the automobile landscape once again.

 

  • 1949: Introduction of the Willys Jeep Station Wagon, the first to offer a four-wheel drive option, marking a revolutionary moment in the automotive industry.
  • 1955: Chevrolet launches the four-wheel-drive versions of the Suburban, establishing a significant milestone in the evolution of SUVs.
  • 1956-1957
    • Debut of the International Harvester Travelall, celebrated as the first full-size SUV, in 1956.
    • Introduction of the Dodge Power Wagon Town Wagon in 1957, setting the foundation for modern SUV designs.
vintage photo of a red 1964 International Harvester Scout

1960s-1970s: The SUV Evolution

  • 1961: Arrival of the International Harvester Scout, offering a competitive array of engine options and features, challenging the Jeep CJ's dominance.
  • 1963: Launch of the Jeep Wagoneer, a sophisticated and car-like design that transformed perceptions of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • 1967: Introduction of the comfort-oriented Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55, bringing luxury to the off-road vehicle segment.
  • 1970: Debut of the Range Rover Classic, a chic option that offered luxury both on and off the road.
  • 1972: Introduction of the Subaru Leone 4WD wagon in Japan, a game-changer considered by many as the first SUV, blending commercial and passenger vehicle elements.

1974 and Beyond: The Term "SUV" Takes Hold

  • 1974: The Jeep Cherokee adopts the term "SUV," spotlighting it in its advertising brochures as a "sports utility vehicle."
  • 1977: Market introduction of the VAZ-2121 (renamed the Lada Niva Legend), the first mass-market 4WD unibody car, ushering in a new era in the SUV industry.
  • 1979: Launch of the AMC Eagle in North America, recognized as the first "crossover," merging luxury and comfort features in various body styles and marking the onset of a new generation of cars.
black 1984 Jeep Cherokee XJ

1980s to 1990s A Vibrant Transformation in the SUV Landscape
The popularity of SUVs soared among urban families, spurring a competitive market with diverse offerings from various manufacturers, including powerhouses like Jeep, Ford, and General Motors. This period witnessed an evolution from off-road vehicles to a staple in households, marking the beginning of the SUV boom that would continue to grow exponentially in the years to follow.

 

1984: The Birth of a New SUV Era

  • Launch of the Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
  • Introduction of compact, family-friendly SUV features
  • Utilization of unibody construction for a lighter, yet robust vehicle
  • Rise in popularity among urban families
  • Emergence of the term "sport utility vehicle" in households

 

Mid-80s Onwards: Fuel Economy Standards and the Rise of SUVs

  • Skillful navigation of the U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards (established in 1975) by manufacturers
  • Utilization of the "light trucks" category to promote SUVs as passenger vehicles
  • Surge in SUV popularity, fueled by an era of affordable gasoline
  • Introduction of new SUV models to compete with Cherokee

 

1994: SUV Boom with a Diverse Line-Up

  • EPA classifies vehicles by "market class"
    Introduction of various SUV models from brands like Jeep, Ford, and General Motors
  • Entrance of Japanese and European makers with models like Toyota 4Runner and Land Rover Range Rover

 

Late 90s: The Unstoppable SUV Craze

  • 1996: Term "SUV craze" coined by Consumers Digest magazine, highlighting the growing popularity of SUVs
  • 1999: Sales of SUVs and light trucks in the U.S. surpass those of regular passenger cars for the first time
black 2006 GMC Envoy

Early 2000s: Introduction of SUV Categories Including Compact and Luxurious Options
In the early 2000s, the SUV market blossomed, introducing crossover SUVs that combined traditional and modern comforts. Despite a brief downturn mid-2000s to 2010 due to economic issues and fuel price spikes, the sector saw a resurgence post-2010, attracting a wider audience with compact SUVs and luxurious entries. By 2019, SUVs made up a significant 47.4% of U.S. vehicle sales, indicating a shift in consumer preferences.

  • 2003: Approximately 76 million SUVs and light trucks on U.S. roads, making up about 35% of all vehicles. Shift of manufacturing focus from compact cars to SUVs due to higher profit margins.

 

Mid-2000s to 2010: A Period of Decline and Subsequent Recovery

Rising fuel prices and an economic downturn affect SUV sales. Closure of several General Motors assembly plants producing SUVs and trucks.

  • 2010: Industry recovery begins with falling fuel prices and an improving economy.

2010s to 2020s: A Decade of Robust Growth and Dominance in the SUV Sector

  • Early 2010s: SUV segment strengthens, showcasing a significant growth in market share.
  • 2013: Compact SUVs become the third-largest market segment, attracting a broader audience.
  • Mid-decade: Global SUV sales surpass the "lower medium car" segment, becoming the largest market segment in 2015.
  • 2016: SUVs and light trucks in the U.S. outperform traditional car sales by over 3 million units, indicating a shift in consumer preferences. Introduction of luxury SUV and crossover models by brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
  • 2019: A significant milestone with SUVs accounting for 47.4% of U.S. sales, compared to 22.1% for sedans.

Looking back, it's really cool to see how the SUV has changed over the years. It started out as a tough military vehicle, made to handle all kinds of rough spots. But then, people started noticing that it could be really useful in everyday life too. It could help carry a bunch of stuff and still have room for the family! Over time, companies started adding more bells and whistles to make the ride even nicer, without losing the ruggedness that made SUVs special in the first place.

 

Now, we have all sorts of SUVs - big ones, small ones, fancy ones, and they can fit into any kind of lifestyle. What's next for the SUV? Well, no one knows for sure, but it's definitely going to be exciting to find out!

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