SUVs are a relatively new category of passenger vehicle. With car models like the Mustang and 911 in production for over 50 years, and the Beetle, Corvette, and Mercedes-Benz SL in production for over 60, most SUV models are still mere pupils compared to popular car models.
But some models are the exception and have been in production for over 30 years. In this article, we take a look at four of the longest continuously sold SUV models and what has helped make them stand the test of time.
The Suburban is the granddaddy of all SUVs in more ways than one. The model has been continuously produced since 1935, making 2015 the 80th year it’s been sold. With its large size and relatively large price, the Suburban has been one of General Motors’ most profitable models. The Suburban has also been sold under different full-size SUV marquees as the GMC Yukon Denali and as a Holden model and separate GMC model.
The Suburban has a fascinating history. The model started out as a station wagon on a truck frame. During World War II, the model was producing as a military transport vehicle. The 1949 Suburban went on to inspire the design of the Chevrolet HHR, more than half a century later. Now in its 12 generation, the Suburban remains one of the largest passenger vehicles on the roads.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The Toyota Land Cruiser didn’t enter the U.S. market until 1960. However, the model has been in production by the Japanese automaker since 1951 and helped put it on the map. Like the Suburban’s and the Jeep’s early years, the Land Cruiser evolved from a military vehicle. In the 1960s, it gained a reputation for reliability and rugged off-road capability.
Over the years, the Land Cruiser has grown larger and become much more luxurious. With a starting price today of over $80,000, it’s one of the most luxurious models (and most expensive) on the market and competes against the likes of the Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
The styling of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which was recently discontinued, was based off the iconic 1960s Land Cruiser design.
The Toyota 4Runner debuted in 1984 and has now been sold continuously for over 30 years. The model began as essentially a Toyota pickup with a rear seat and a fiberglass shell over the back.
The 4Runner was a popular compact SUV in the 1980s with competitors such the Chevy S-10 Blazer, Ford Bronco II, and Nissan Pathfinder. In 1989, a four-door version was launched as the 4Runner debuted its second generation.
The 4Runner has since morphed into a mid-size SUV and has taken on more off-road characteristics with luxurious touches. The 2015 4Runner has a starting MSRP of $33,210. The model is one of the last-remaining body-on-frame SUV models in its class.
The Jeep Cherokee has an interesting and somewhat confusing history. The model is considered to the origin of the popular compact SUV segment. Originally conceived in the late 1970s, the Cherokee was brought to market in 1984. Unlike many of its smaller competitors, the XJ Cherokee, which was produced until 1996 when a new Cherokee debuted, was offered in both two and four doors from the get go.
The 2nd generation Cherokee was produced until 2001. In 2002, the Jeep Liberty was introduced. However, the Liberty was sold as the Cherokee in all markets besides North America. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has also been sold since 1993. Jeep reintroduced the Cherokee to the North American market for the 2013 model year as an all-new compact SUV model.
Indicative as to how SUV models have grown larger over the years, the new Cherokee is actually 1.1 inches longer than the Jeep Grand Cherokee was when it debuted in 1993.