In over eight decades since its origin, the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) has come a long way. Originally designed for purely practical purposes when it was first created, it underwent a complete transformation during the middle of the 20th century to becoming the ultimate family car. The development and widespread popularity of the SUV is one of the great success stories in the history of motorcars and one we will look at in closer detail right here.
When the SUV first started being used, the emphasis was very much on the middle part of the acronym. Utility. The vehicle was purposely created in a large size to carry around as much cargo as possible while still having room for a number of passengers as well. The Chevy Suburban of 1935 is often credited as being the first American SUV, while the Land Rover was the first in Europe. They were heavy and gas-guzzling, but they served the purpose they needed to. This made them perfect for usage during wartime as a convenient was of transporting soldiers and equipment but originally, there wasn’t much planned for these types of vehicles beyond this.
The utility had already been covered and it was time to add the sport into these vehicles to make them more commercially enticing. Unless you lived on a farm, ranch or in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t much point in owning an SUV and this was not a big enough market for major car companies. Over time, manufacturers began to develop these vehicles so they still offered the practicality, but weren’t quite so expensive to maintain.
As things began to settle down after the Second World War, American families needed a vehicle that would fit them all in while still allowing for ample space for all their luggage. Car manufacturers spotted the gap in the market, and realised families were who they needed to be targeting. They raced to create vehicles that were family-friendly while still offering a sense of durability that didn’t alienate their core market. It took some time before they caught on, but by the 1970s SUVs became all the rage. More stylish than a minivan, sales continued to be strong throughout the next decades.
A big advancement in the development of the SUV, the crossover drives and handles like a regular car while still offering the size and practicality of its larger cousins. The idea was still to offer plenty of room on the inside, while making sure the outside wasn’t too bulky so they were suited to city driving and squeezing into small parking spaces. Another advantage is their fuel efficiency, which has always been a major concern for families on a budget along with cheap car insurance.
Nowadays, pretty much every manufacturer makes a version of the SUV – even those you never thought would. In the modern car market, many customers are demanding a vehicle that is both energy efficient and highly practical and manufacturers are queuing up to provide this for them.