The Brief History Of The Sport Utility Vehicle

The Brief History Of The Sport Utility Vehicle

Most of​ us are familiar with the​ birth of​ the​ automobile and​ Henry Ford's Model "T," but we often overlook the​ creation of​ one of​ the​ most popular vehicles on the​ road: the​ SUV. as​ time marches on, so does everything else and​ at​ one point the​ need for​ a​ larger, more rugged vehicle emerged paving the​ way for​ all the​ SUVs on the​ road at​ this very moment.

Necessity is​ indeed the​ mother of​ invention, or​ in​ this case, evolution. Many believe the​ modern Sport Utility vehicle evolved from a​ vehicle known at​ the​ time as​ a​ "depot hack" (also referred to​ as​ "suburbans" or​ "carryalls"). Depot hacks were larger vehicles that transported people (and usually lots of​ luggage) to​ and​ from the​ train depots back when the​ rail line was the​ way to​ travel long distances.

As more and​ more people used their cars for​ longer distance driving, and​ people began to​ move further away from family members creating the​ need to​ drive longer distances more often, car manufacturers looked for​ a​ way to​ position themselves in​ the​ automobile market in​ the​ 1920s and​ 30s.

Jeep ultimately produced the​ "Jeep Wagon" which they described in​ marketing as​ the​ "utility vehicle" for​ the​ family in​ the​ 1940s. and​ so the​ term was coined. Jeep continued to​ develop its SUV line, producing the​ popular Wagoneer in​ the​ early 60s, while Chevy wound up with the​ official name "Suburban" for​ one of​ its models. in​ the​ 60s, when the​ surf scene and​ surfing lifestyle became popular, wagons began to​ take off and​ the​ ever popular "Woody" gained recognition.

As far as​ we can tell, these types of​ "carryalls" were truly the​ precursor to​ the​ modern SUV. as​ the​ baby boom generation grew up and​ started having kids of​ their own, the​ desire for​ sporty vehicles that could haul the​ whole family plus some started to​ grow. at​ that time, the​ average was 2.7 kids per family, a​ population that was still growing and​ as​ urban sprawl began to​ take hold, people found themselves in​ their vehicles more often than ever before. SUVs became the​ popular alternative to​ the​ stuffy station wagon, with more power and​ a​ sexier style.

The 70s brought high gas prices causing larger engines and​ high performance vehicles like the​ SUV to​ wane in​ sales. People began to​ gravitate toward fuel-efficient mini-vans, keeping the​ "carryall"
alive long enough to​ wait for​ the​ 80s to​ roll around. as​ the​ economy boomed, so did the​ American need for​ big, high performance vehicles again and​ big they were. Many SUV manufacturers went to​ extremes with 10-cylinder engines (the Ford Excursion is​ one). it​ was about size and​ power.

That trend, however, lost momentum for​ a​ variety of​ reasons during the​ 1990s and​ 2000s. SUVs came under scrutiny for​ being unsafe both to​ passengers inside and​ to​ smaller cars on the​ road. as​ urban space began to​ decrease, parking spaces became smaller and​ behemoth SUVs became less practical for​ city driving. a​ new awareness of​ fuel-efficiency based not on the​ economy, but on environmental awareness also came about and​ people started questioning the​ ownership of​ such vehicles.

The automobile industry responded by creating "compact SUVs" and​ cross-overs. Toyota came out with the​ smaller "Rav-4" – an​ SUV with a​ wheelbase the​ same size as​ a​ car. Isuzu the​ popular Ascender 5-Passenger. SUVs also became safer during this time with manufacturers including both passive and​ active safety features.

Most recently, SUVs have tried to​ jump on the​ environmentally- and​ economically-sound bandwagon of​ electric powered vehicles and​ hybrids, hoping to​ stay competitive with the​ newer "green" cars. With SUVs evolving continuously to​ meet the​ market's demands, it​ doesn't look like they'll be going away any time soon.

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