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How Sweet 16 Parties Killed the SUV

alcan_armyjeep_1942_sm REAL off-roading

I find it almost laughable to look at some of the SUVs that are coming out today.  They are generations removed from their inspiring ancestors: the Jeep driven by the American military in WWII and the infamous British Land Rover.  These first SUVs were made for off-roading in unforgiving terrain.  They were working vehicles.  They were REAL vehicles.

My family has always owned SUVs and pickup trucks. In my opinion, they were the best option for a family that was constantly hauling dogs, kids, wood, tractors, and kayaking equipment -- and I guess my family agreed.  Our family history of SUVs included several of the classics: the good 'ole Ford Explorer (first generation), a classy Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a meaty Dodge Durango that we named "Brock."  Pickup trucks included the trusty Dodge Dakota and a red Toyota Tundra.

These trucks were high off the ground and cut through the Wisconsin slush and snow like a hot knife through butter. Many of the interiors were basic -- everything had a purpose.  This was what a truck was made for: to work and haul. When our Jeep showed up with leather seats, it was a big deal.

The sport-utility vehicles you see today are as different from the original Jeep as an apple from a flank steak. Compare the wanna-be hardcore Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV and the over-the-top Porsche Cayenne to the military Jeep -- or even the first-generation Ford Explorer...posers. We all know the most rugged thing these cars are hauling are faux-Christmas trees...

The purpose of the SUV becomes even more distorted in the super-luxury brand class. Maserati has been teasing the wealthy SUV/crossover crowd with the Kubang for years... and now Bentley is saying they are going to release a behemoth of their own.  These trucks have price tags in the six-digit range. Wh-hat?

The fleets of working SUVs seem to be a dying breed...