SUVs of the Decade

It’s hard to believe but we are already more than a decade into the new century. During this time, the SUV category has changed considerably. In 2000, the vast majority of SUV models were truck-based models that got poor fuel economy and there were no available hybrid SUVs. There are ten 2011 hybrid SUVs and the vast majority of new models are crossover style. In this article, we look back at some of the top SUVs of the decade.

Below is a list of Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year award winners over the past decade:

2001 Acura MDX
2002 GMC Envoy
2003 Volvo XC90
2004 Volkswagen Touareg
2005 Land Rover LR3
2006 Nissan Xterra
2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
2008 Mazda CX-9
2009 Subaru Forester
2010 Subaru Outback

This list represents some of the top SUVs of the decade. There are however several glaring omissions. The 2007 Honda CR-V, the model’s third generation, helped shape the compact SUV class for the remainder of the decade. The CR-V was the number one selling SUV in the U.S. in 2010. Other standout models of the decade include the Cadillac Escalade. The Escalade became a symbol of American style and luxury and helped revive the Cadillac brand. It also helped bring younger buyers to Cadillac, which was previously a make that was preferred by older car buyers.

Today, the vast majority of SUV models are built on platforms shared with car models and have unibody construction. This change has helped make SUVs lighter, more fuel-efficient, and have better handling while still retaining a high ride height and an all-wheel drive option.

Despite difficult times in 2008 and 2009 due to a worldwide economic recession and high gas prices, there have been an explosion of SUV models in the past decade, particularly luxury models. By 2007, Audi, Porsche, and BMW all offered SUV models. In 2011, there are more than 85 SUV models for buyers to choose from including models from Mini to Infiniti.

2011 models continue to make strides towards greater fuel economy. There are also several automakers offering fuel-efficient diesel engine SUVs. For example, the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg offers gas, hybrid, and diesel engine options and even its gas engine gets nearly twenty percent better fuel-efficiency than the gas powered V-6 2010 model.

This list of the top SUVs of the decade shows the capability of Japanese and European automakers to build quality SUVs. Only one American SUV was a winner in the past decade. Ford and GM posted big SUV sales during the 1990s. Despite their misfortunes in the past decade, American automakers are building higher quality models. It is likely more than one American model will be on the list this coming decade. However, the Porsche Cayenne won Motor Trend’s 2011 SUV of the Year award.

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